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Saturday, October 27, 2018

Tales of the Weird (British Library)

From the Depths and Other Strange Tales of the Sea, ed. Mike Ashley
British Library 978-0712-35236-9, 19 July 2018, 318pp, £8.99.
From atop the choppy waves to the choking darkness of the abyss, the seas are full of mystery and rife with tales of inexplicable events and encounters with the unknown.
    In this anthology we see a thrilling spread of narratives; sailors are pitched against a nightmare from the depths, invisible to the naked eye; a German U-boat commander is tormented by an impossible transmission via Morse Code; a ship ensnares itself in the kelp of the Sargasso Sea and dooms a crew of mutineers, seemingly out of revenge for her lost captain
    The supernatural is set alongside the grim affairs of sailors scorned in these salt-soaked tales, recovered from obscurity for the 21st century.

Haunted Houses. Two Novels by Charlotte Riddell, ed. Andrew Smith
British Library 978-0712-35251-2, 30 August 2018, 354pp, £8.99.
From the once-popular yet unfairly neglected Victorian writer Charlotte Riddell comes a pair of novels which cleverly upholster the familiar furniture of the haunted house story. In An Uninhabited House, the hauntings are seen through the perspective of the solicitors who hold the deed of the property. Here we find a shrewd comedic skewering of this host of scriveners and clerks, and a realist approach to the consequences of a haunted house how does one let such a property? Slowly the safer world of commerce and law gives way as the encounter with the supernatural entity becomes more and more unavoidable In Fairy Water, Riddell again subverts the expectations of the reader, suggesting a complex moral character for her haunting spirit. Her writing style is succinct and witty, rendering the story a spirited and approachable read despite its age.

Glimpses of the Unknown. Lost Ghost Stories, ed. Mike Ashley
British Library 978-0712-35266-6, 20 September 2018, 336pp, £8.99.
A figure emerges from a painting to pursue a bitter vengeance; the last transmission of a dying man haunts the airwaves, seeking to reveal his murderer; a treasure hunt disturbs an ancient presence in the silence of a lost tomb.
    From the vaults of the British Library comes a new anthology celebrating the best works of forgotten, never since republished, supernatural fiction from the early 20th century.
    Waiting within are malevolent spirits eager to possess the living and mysterious spectral guardians a diverse host of phantoms exhumed from the rare pages of literary magazines and newspaper serials to thrill once more.

Mortal Echoes. Encounters with the End, ed. Greg Buzwell
British Library 978-0712-35281-9, 4 October 2018, 288pp, £8.99.
A strange figure fortells tragedy on the railway tracks. A plague threatens to encroach upon an isolated castle. The daughter of an eccentric scientist falls victim to a poisonous curse. The stories in this anthology depict the haunting moment when characters come face-to-face with their own mortality. Spanning two centuries, Mortal Echoes features some of the finest writers in the English language including Edgar Allan Poe, Graham Greene, May Sinclair and H. G. Wells. Intriguing, unsettling and often strangely amusing, this collection explores humanitys transient existence, and what it means to be alive.

Spirits of the Season. Christmas Hauntings, ed. Tanya Kirk
British Library 978-0712352529, 18 October 2018, 288pp, £8.99.
Festive cheer turns to maddening fear in this new collection of seasonal hauntings, presenting the best Christmas ghost stories from the 1850s to the 1960s.
    The traditional trappings of the holiday are turned upside down as restless spirits disrupt the merry games of the living, Christmas trees teem with spiteful pagan presences and the Devil himself treads the boards at the village pantomime.
    As the cold night of winter closes in and the glow of the hearth begins to flicker and fade, the uninvited visitors gather in the dark in this distinctive assortment of haunting tales.

The Platform Edge. Uncanny Tales of the Railways, ed. Mike Ashley
British Library 978-0712-35203-1, 18 January 2019, 256pp, £8.99.
Howling down the tunnels comes a new collection showcasing the greatest stories of strange happenings on the tracks, many of which are republished here for the first time since their original departure.
    Waiting beyond the barrier are ghostly travelling companions bent on disturbing the commutes of the living, a subway car disappearing into a different dimension without a trace, and a man's greatest fears realized on the ghost train of a carnival.
    An express ticket to unforgettable journeys into the supernatural, from the open railways of Europe and America to the pressing dark of the tube.

The Face in the Glass. The Gothic Tales of Mary Elizabeth Braddon, ed. Greg Buzwell
British Library 978-0712-35208-6, 1 February 2019, 352pp, £8.99.
A young girl whose love for her fiance continues even after her death; a sinister old lady with claw-like hands who cares little for the qualities of her companions provided they are young and full of life; and a haunted mirror that foretells of approaching death for those who gaze into its depths.
    These are just some of the haunting tales gathered together in this macabre collection of short stories. Reissued in the Tales of the Weird series and introduced by British Library curator Greg Buzwell, The Face in the Glass is the first selection of Mary Elizabeth Braddon's supernatural short stories to be widely available in more than 100 years.
    By turns curious, sinister, haunting and terrifying, each tale explores the dark shadows beyond the rational world.

The Weird Tales of William Hope Hodgson, ed. Xavier Aldana Reyes
British Library 978-0712-35233-8, 4 April 2019, 288pp, £8.99.
A splash of something huge resounds through the sea-fog. In the stillness of a dark room, some unspeakable evil is making its approach.
    This new selection offers the most chilling and unsettling of Hodgson's short fiction, from encounters with abominations at sea to fireside tales of otherworldly forces from his inventive `occult detective' character Carnacki, the ghost finder.
    A master of conjuring atmosphere, when the horror inevitably arrives it is delivered with breathtaking pace and the author's unique evocation of overwhelming panic.

Doorway to Dilemma. Bewildering Tales of Dark Fantasy, ed. Mike Ashley
British Library 978-0712-35263-5, 3 May 2019, 272pp, £8.99.
Between horror and fantasy lies a world in which the inexplicable remains unsolved and the rational mind is assailed by impossible questions. Welcome to the realm of Dark Fantasy, where safe answers are beyond reach and accounts of unanswerable dilemma find their home.
    Delving deep into the sub-genre, fiction expert Mike Ashley has gathered an unsettling mixture of twisted tales, encounters with logic-defying creatures and nightmarish fables certain to perplex, beguile and of course, entertain.

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