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The Winter Spirits: Ghostly Tales for Frosty Nights (2023)

av Sphere Books (Publisher)

Andra författare: Bridget Collins (Bidragsgivare), Imogen Hermes Gowar (Bidragsgivare), Kiran Millwood Hargrave (Bidragsgivare), Andrew Michael Hurley (Bidragsgivare), Jess Kidd (Bidragsgivare)8 till, Elizabeth Macneal (Bidragsgivare), Lisa Perrin (Illustratör), Natasha Pulley (Bidragsgivare), Laura Purcell (Bidragsgivare), Laura Shepherd-Robinson (Bidragsgivare), Susan Stokes-Chapman (Bidragsgivare), Stuart Turton (Bidragsgivare), Catriona Ward (Bidragsgivare)

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From the creators of The Haunting Season comes a spellbinding new collection of never-before-seen ghostly tales, authored by twelve of the biggest names in historical and gothic fiction
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‘’Tuppence for a bag of salt, tuppence for a bag of pins. Tuppence for a dead man’s hand, tuppence and I’ll eat thy sins.’’

Well, I thought I would finish this collection within three days but work and life in general got in the way. This was for the better since I had the chance to truly savour each story, to fully experience the darkness and the eerie silence of each tale. As February ends and the nights get shorter and shorter, this beautiful volume seems only appropriate for me to bid goodbye to an excellent winter (reading-wise, mind you…)

Mainly set during the days leading to Christmas, in a variety of places and eras, these stories will transport you to haunted mansions and theatres, to wuthering moors and threatening marshes, to foreboding churches and graveyards. Spirits that seek justice and mortals that seek wealth or validation will lead you to a wintery world where the holly and the ivy bear blood and not white blossoms…

Host (Kiran Millwood Hargrave): An affluent couple wants to communicate with the spirit of their daughter. They obey the medium’s wishes, but their despair will cause all Hell to break loose. There’s been a plethora of medium stories lately, but this one is quite unusual, and atmospheric.

Inferno (Laura Shepherd-Robinson): A man who tries to escape from the sins he has committed, finds refuge in a strange villa in Lake Garda, inhabited by an enchanting young woman and an elderly servant. The end will shock you and the story itself is a masterpiece of twists and psychological terror.

‘’All the children in town knew the story of the Old Play, even if they’d never seen it. Parents would tell it to them at bedtime. Everyone knew the plot - how the beautiful Maiden Queen was bewitched by the Tuppenny Hag and put to sleep in the faraway world. How the Tuppenny Hag tempted the Beggar to take the Maiden Queen’s golden locker, which he did so as to feed his starving family. How the Greenwood Folk offered to guide him out of the forest but led him to the Magistrate instead, who pronounced him a sentence of death.’’

The Old Play (Andrew Michael Hurley): Oh, my God, what a story! An actor, who has a few demons to fight, prepares for the annual performance of a strange Christmas play. However, tonight’s show is special…I’ve always thought there is something eerie when it comes to the backstage energy and the preparation of a play and here this aura of uneasiness and nervousness is communicated to perfection. One of the most unique stories I’ve ever read.

‘’Nobody should be in the attic. Nobody should be sewing on the machine. It simply cannot be. And yet it rumbles on. Outside the wind is blundering about the house, and the sea on my horizon is roaring, but still the rattle of the sewing machine penetrates it all, persistent, accusatory, until I press the pillow over my head to block it out, and still the noise comes and comes. Even when I take the laudanum I keep at my bedside the rhythm penetrates its fog: ‘It’s me,’ it seems to purr. ‘It’s me, it’s me, it’s me.’’

A Double Thread (Imogen Hermes Gowar): A selfish woman has moved to Penzance, haunted by a family scandal. Her one concern is the outstanding silk gown she wants to prepare for Christmas. Her new seamstress is impeccable but even that is not enough for such an entitled, spoiled human being. Even though the ending may seem predictable, Imogen Hermes Gowar creates an eerie story and a protagonist that is insufferable, yet fascinating.

The Salt Miracles (Natasha Pulley): A priest travels to the remote island of St Hilda in Scotland to investigate a series of strange occurrences, characterised as ‘miracles’.
This story had so much potential. Had a truly talented writer written this tale, it would have been a masterpiece. But now? I feel that Natasha Pulley needs to stop treating every theme as material for readers who only read idiotic YA ‘books’. How she teaches Creative Writing is utterly beyond me. The story is supposedly set in the era of Arthur Conan Doyle and the language is like a composition of a 10-year-old pupil. Or perhaps, even worse. Her incompetence turned an eerie folk tale into a pitiful comedy…

Banished (Elizabeth Macneal): A healer is summoned by a powerful man to exorcize the troubling ghost of his wife. The woman doesn’t know that she has stepped into the heart of a terrible case of injustice, cruelty and revenge. A remarkable story set in Edinburgh during the 1700s based on a true incident.

The Gargoyle (Bridget Collins): Jesus, what a story! Do you know the feeling when you watch a really good horror film and you just know there is something worrying even though the frame only shows thick darkness and nothing else? That’s how effective this story is. You’ll walk through the eerie graveyard, and you’ll listen to the rain on the window and you’ll smell old house decay, while you’re sympathizing with the writer who tries to exorcize her demons through her work.

The Master of the House (Stuart Turton): I’m sorry but if I were Thomas, I’d choose to flee with the Devil too! Set in 1901, this rather unusual, yet no less terrifying story, is a mad mix of A Christmas Carol and The Omen, forming a hallucinatory Gothic fantasy.

‘’She dances with it out across the lawn, down the slope, loving the cold air on her face and the crunch underfoot. Only her footprints in this bright frozen world. She misses a catch and the ball rolls down the path and under the gate. The girl gives chase. Ignoring the calls of the nanny, the gardener, she bolts through the gate and out into the wide-open space of the marshland, benign under the sun-dazzled sky. A place of wading birds, waving reeds, low hillocks, rushes rustling, greedy pools, sucking earth, the closing of the day, hot panic, missed footing, the winter moon, dead calm.’’

Ada Lark (Jess Kidd): Written in Jess Kidd’s signature present tense style, this is the haunting story of a gifted child and a trap in the form of a seance. But spirits and children have a mind of their own…

‘’But I get stronger with each of your deceptions. And you get thinner and thinner. Soon there will be nothing of you left.’’

Jenkin (Catriona Ward): How would you like to be haunted by a strange cat-like creature which would appear when you behave in a ‘dishonest’ way? An outstanding story, full of twists and true pain that you simply HAVE TO read.

‘’Widow’s Walk. The townsfolk called it this on account of the churchyard on the other side of the hedge, where, buried in a line spanning the length of it, were the graves of unfortunate women who had lost their lives in some unhappy way, each and every one of them a widow.’’

Widow’s Walk (Susan Stokes-Chapman): A French woman, who has followed her husband to England, is now alone. Struggling with the aftermath of this loss, her only consolation is her art, her beautiful fans, beloved by the high society of the city. But when she comes home every night, a dark presence is lurking in the shadows of her chamber, and someone is following her, night after night, as she passes through Widow’s Walk.
Although I was able to suspect the route the story would take, the closure was no less shocking. A darkly beautiful, haunting Christmas tale.

Carol of the Bells and Chains (Laura Purcell): It’s no wonder that in a collection full of excellent stories, Laura Purcell’s tale is the jewel in the crown. She takes a governess (whose life seems to be filled with secrets), troublesome children and the terrifying legend of Krampus and creates a quintessentially British masterpiece.

I was amazed to read a reviewer’s opinion that stated how ‘’similar these stories felt’. Are we even serious? Excuse me. Having read most novels by the writers whose stories grace this collection, I can assure you that their distinctive voices can be heard loud and clear. Unless you read smut and YA in which case this volume is not for your little minds.

Keep these exceptional collections coming, please. They are Christmas presents in print.

‘’It was a blessed sight that greeted me: fires blazing in the hearts, a plate of steaming mince pies, so hot that I scalded my mouth. Garlands were slung from the picture rails, in great big bushels - holy and ivy for eternal life, the berries for Jesus’ shed blood - and the air was thick with the scent of ground cloves and ginger.’’

My reviews can also be found on https://theopinionatedreaderblog.wordpress.com ( )
  AmaliaGavea | Feb 24, 2024 |
I'm not really a fan of short stories but this collection intrigued me as it included works by many authors I really like so I picked it up. As with all anthologies there are excellent parts and slightly less so and this was no exception. I really disliked the stories with a horror element but some were absolutely wonderful - surprisingly most of these were set in Scotland.
I'm not saying I am a convert to the format but I was pleasantly surprised! ( )
  pluckedhighbrow | Nov 11, 2023 |
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» Lägg till fler författare

Författarens namnRollTyp av författareVerk?Status
Sphere BooksPublisherprimär författarealla utgåvorbekräftat
Collins, BridgetBidragsgivaremedförfattarealla utgåvorbekräftat
Gowar, Imogen HermesBidragsgivaremedförfattarealla utgåvorbekräftat
Hargrave, Kiran MillwoodBidragsgivaremedförfattarealla utgåvorbekräftat
Hurley, Andrew MichaelBidragsgivaremedförfattarealla utgåvorbekräftat
Kidd, JessBidragsgivaremedförfattarealla utgåvorbekräftat
Macneal, ElizabethBidragsgivaremedförfattarealla utgåvorbekräftat
Perrin, LisaIllustratörmedförfattarealla utgåvorbekräftat
Pulley, NatashaBidragsgivaremedförfattarealla utgåvorbekräftat
Purcell, LauraBidragsgivaremedförfattarealla utgåvorbekräftat
Shepherd-Robinson, LauraBidragsgivaremedförfattarealla utgåvorbekräftat
Stokes-Chapman, SusanBidragsgivaremedförfattarealla utgåvorbekräftat
Turton, StuartBidragsgivaremedförfattarealla utgåvorbekräftat
Ward, CatrionaBidragsgivaremedförfattarealla utgåvorbekräftat
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