What we have here is a journey around the world in the hands of a number of very famous and some significantly less so authors of the weird, the macabre and the ghostly.
The book opens with an almost throw-away yet very famous Edgar Allen Poe story about a vengeful 'Black Cat' and then heads off to court and a ghosts attempt to influence proceedings to ensure his murderers conviction in Charles Dickens' 'To Be Taken with a Grain of Salt'.
The books fifth tale, 'The Open Door', by Mrs Margaret Oliphant explores loss and rejection at a Scottish house and our second lady Victorian Elizabeth Braddon provides one of favourites in 'A Cold Embrace' where unwanted love sends an artist to his grave.
Ambrose Bierce's 'Moonlit Road' is an series of overlapping tales telling of wrongful death, madness and ghosts and Henry James makes a very fine contribution with his story of jealousy and greed and finally revenge in 'The Romance of Certain Old Clothes'.
Guy de Maupassant's 'The Hand' is a fun but slight and slightly vague tale that sits in advance of Robert Louis Stevenson's fabulous 'The Body Snatcher' with it's story of murder and comeuppance.
Rocking the most Hammer Horror of titles Francis Marion Crawford's ' The Screaming Skull' takes a fairly cliched idea and with it's first person, one sided dialogue treatment and a it of flair makes it quite fun.
|Charlotte Perkins Gilman|
The book ends on a real high with a quick story by H.H. (Saki) Munro that tells a brutal tale of rural horror at the hands or rather pipes of Pan and finally a great piece of shape-shifting horror in Hugh Walpole's 'Tarnhelm'.
I've never been a fan of short story anthologies but over the last year I've got really into these collections of Victorian & Edwardian weirdness and I've found a few absolute gems and this was one of them.