Monday 26 March 2018

The Wish Dog and Other Stories

Penny Thomas & Stephanie Tillotson (eds)

The Wish Dog and Other Stories takes you into the realm of the unknown, the ghostly and the gothic, in a colourful kaleidoscope of half-glimpsed shades.
The title story, The Wish Dog conjures up a fetch – a lifetime companion much wanted; Harvest is a haunting reworking of Babes in the Wood; Sovay, Sovay tells of a Grand Guignol actress who loses her head to a dream of romance and returns with a thousand stories to tell to her bewitched audience; in Broad Beach a man who has had a close encounter with death has dreams that seem larger than life – what he wants most is to run, like the athlete he watches at the tideline each day.
Other tales feature a ghostly mansion in a Merthyr park, a lonely soldier permanently on guard, the angel of death and a would-be suicide, a lonely Inuit asleep on a mountainside, a row of small wet footprints on floorboards…
Open the pages if you dare, but don’t forget to look behind you.

There seems a little confusion over themes in this book.  The introduction opens with the question of 'What makes a good ghost story?' and the cover refers to 'Haunting tales from Welsh women writers' and I wonder if this perhaps explains the variety in the stories here with many going down the path of the supernatural while others offer a story with a wider interpretation of the world 'haunting'.

Of those in the latter camp Nic Herrriot's 'Convention is the Mother of Reality...' is the undeniable stand out with it's delicately poignant tale of ageing and friends both real and ... other and Gillian Drake's 'Seashells' is a quick but satisfying story of both person and place finding each other.

Of the former there are a few which go in too heavy handed or are just a bit too clunky to conjure up any chills but in amongst them is the folk horror of Sian Preece's 'Harvest' and the jealous spirit of the 'Caretakers' in Jo Mazelis story both of which provide engaging diversions.

I like coming across unexpected ghost stories and in the case of this unassuming volume it proved to be mostly for the good as there was very little here that I didn't enjoy, much that I did and a few that really shone through.

Buy it here - The Wish Dog: Haunting tales from Welsh women writers


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