Apart from having just about the most glorious cover art - by Antony Maitland - of any book I've ever bought this collection of supernatural tales turned out to be great fun. There are some fabulous authors behind that cover, a few of whom I know well and a couple I'd been looking forward to checking out.
This collection was originally published as half of much longer anthology called both 'The Restless Ghost' and 'The Usurping Ghost' which was subsequently split into this and a second anthology called 'Ghostly Encounters' - which I've just noticed I have on my shelf waiting it's turn. It's lovely discovery because if it's half as good as this one then it'll be a good ride.
Opening proceedings is 'Feel Free' by Alan Garner wherein a young artist finds himself physically in harmony with the creator of an ancient Greek dish. It's beautifully executed and straight off the bat a very unusual, sympathetic and human take on the idea of a haunting.
Quatermass creator Nigel Kneale is up next with a haunted house tale, 'Minuke', which felt like a home counties version of 'Poltergeist' and is very much in the modern day rural horror vein that he explored in shows such as 'The Stone Tape' and 'The Murrain'.
'Witches Bone' by the one author in the book I'd not heard of, W. C. Dickinson, followed on with a slightly silly tale about a wishing bone and the mayhem it leaves in it's wake. It was entertaining enough in a 'Tales of the Unexpected' sort of way.
Continuing the rural horror is H. P. Lovecraft's, 'The Moon Bog', as two Americans attempts to clear an Irish marsh lets loose entities who are otherwise inclined.#
Sheridan Le Fanu (here billed as J. S. Lefanu) is represented by what is by far the weakest story in the collection, 'The White Cat of Drumgunniol', with it's story of a cat that foreshadows death for a particular family. It's not bad, it's just a bit of cliche.
I'd never read any Robert Louis Stevenson before so his 'The Bottle Imp' came as a very nice surprise as a couple desperately try to rid themselves of a malign magical bottle. It's wonderfully constructed and I was almost cheering for them by the end.
Closing the book was a real treat, Joan Aiken's, 'The Apple of Trouble'. It's light, funny, inventive and fully silly as two resourceful children attempt to rid themselves of the apple from the Garden of Eden, a cantankerous uncle and the three Furies (or Erinyes) who follow the apple around and exact vengeance on whoever is unfortunate to own it. It's a joyous read and by the time I was halfway through I'd already made the decision to track down more in the series.
In all it's a great little collection filled with variety and invention featuring some great writers and stories written over at least a century that feel entirely at home in each other's company.