This week, however, we heard tell of a review which we felt compelled to re-post here. Anna van Gelderen very kindly posted this review on her blog of our previous collection of Christmas ghost stories, The Longest Night. The interest twist? It’s in Dutch! One of the most heartening things about sending out copies of our new book, Poor Souls’ Light, is seeing it travel far and wide: to Germany, America and Australia.
So, with the help of Google translate and some careful re-phrasing on our part (although I do think one of Google’s original phrases, ‘the cat is so soggy against you’, describes winter perfectly), here is said review:
Last December Curious Tales, the British writer collective (the Booker-nominated Alison Moore is the best known amongst them), published a bundle of original short stories, drawing inspiration from this darkest time of the year. They are all around fifteen pages long and each story begins with an intriguing black and white illustration by artist Beth Ward. The book, published in limited edition, was published with great care and each copy is signed and numbered by one of the authors. Although they are inspired by old masters in the genre, such as A.N. Wilson, they remain quite clearly modern stories.
'Winter Closing' by Alison Moore takes place in the former home of a deceased writer which is now a museum dedicated to her. It is an unpleasant place, but a fan of the author tirelessly gives tours, until December 21 when the house closes for the winter and something goes awry.
The story of Emma Jane Unsworth, entitled 'In', is oppressive and initially puzzling. But if you read it carefully, a protagonist emerges who finds herself overwrought and on the verge of snapping, driven crazy by the rattling of her garden gate.
The contribution of Richard Hirst, 'Drums at Cullen plays with a few standard elements of the genre but in an original way: an isolated country house, a woman who seems to have risen from the dead. Deliciously creepy.
'Bedtime' Tom Fletcher is set in a steadily deteriorating house which is newly occupied by a pair of young overtired parents. The working mother runs night shifts and sleeps during the day, whilst the unemployed father witnesses their little daughter exhibiting increasingly strange behavior in the nights.
The last story is perhaps the most intriguing: 'Dark Jack' by Jenn Ashworth is about a woman who passes her evenings volunteering for a helpline and is seriously upset by a caller who keeps saying things such as, "It's dark and it's cold and I can’t get out. "
All five stories are very different, but also have some things in common: they all play with the period of the year in which nights are the longest, and strike enough notes to keep you pondering and shuddering after you’ve finished rreading. Unfortunately, this book is now sold out (the edition was limited to only 300 copies), but the good news is that the collective has just released a new collection. It is called Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales, features an introduction by Alison Flood and costs only €12.70 (including shipping). Order here. Do not wait too long, because this edition but is limited to only 500 copies. My copy is already underway.