Top positive review
9 people found this helpful
on 18 July 2014
I got into EF Benson with "The Room in the Tower" - an effective but basic spook-story, the first in this volume. By good luck or chance it was a reading comprehension text at high school in a great textbook called "The Dark", and I never forgot it. I spent years trying to find it and when I found it, I found ...this:
Like many so-called "Ghost Story" Collections, this is a little misleading. What we have here is a bumper collection of tales from an assured and skillful write which could be best filed under "Weird Fiction". Vampires, ghosts, satanists, mad scientists, the returning dead, seances, creepy wicker-mannish hares and "local shop" weirdness - you name it, its in here. Benson seems to be the hub in the weird fiction wheel touching on subjects dear to writers as diverse as Arthur Machen, HP Lovecraft, MR James, Algernon Blackwood and Poe, almost as if he was setting out to write a pastiche collection when in fact he often pre-empted these writers. . If you have a taste for early twentieth century supernatural writing at all you will be pleasantly entertained. Benson's range is his great asset and i found the shifting tones, moods and themes refreshing. (MR James is my favourite weird writer but he does use the same kind of set-ups often - I'm not complaining)
Tales of note are the Blackwood-esqe "The Man Who Went Too Far", the chillingly pagan "Gavon's Eve", the frankly horrific but very well executed occult shocker "The Sanctuary", and a magnificently atmospheric and odd little witch "The Wishing Well".
If you long for a triangulation of the edwardian dining room, intellectual free-thought and real chills then at £2.99 it's a no-brainer (with apologies to the poor creature in "And the dead spake" ... you'll see.)