Note, the format of my Short and Sweet reviews differs in that they simply comprise the book blurb and a short response (hence, the short and sweet). Sometimes I have too many books to do a full-length review. At other times, like now, tennis elbow and a torn tendon makes too much writing/typing difficult. As such, I’ve decided to devote longer reviews to Australian authors until such time as my injury clears. 

I don’t often read ghost stories or short stories, but the cover of this book called to me, the words leading my eye to a far-off door, making me want to go inside. A clever cover, indeed. In the mood for something atmospheric, after a few lighter reads, the blurb suggested this book could be a good fit. Have a read:

A wonderfully atmospheric collection of short stories, rooted deep in the landscape and inspired by traditional folk tales and country legends from England and France. These tales are richly populated by ghosts and spirits seeking revenge; by grief-struck women and haunted men coming to terms with their destiny – all rooted deep in the elemental landscapes of Sussex, Brittany and the Languedoc. The collection includes “The Mistletoe Bride”, “La Fille de Melisande”, “Red Letter Day” and “The House on the Hill”.

Atmospheric really is the best way to describe this haunting collection – it was the sense of place that really stood out in most of the stories. As far as ghost stories go, none are particularly scary (so if getting freaked out is your thing, this might not work for you); instead the stories rely on a subtle rendering of atmosphere, building up the sense of eerie-ness and mild discomfort to put readers ever-so-slightly on edge. I enjoyed “The Mistletoe Bride” and can well imagine that tale scaring children and adults alike when told around a campfire (it certainly makes me think twice about playing “Hide and Seek”). Other stories that stood out for me included “The House on the Hill”, the stirring “Drowned Village”, “Sainte Therese” with its clever examination of reality suspended, and “The Yellow Scarf”‘s clever play on the cracks in time. The play, “Syrinx”, was moving and concise.

Available from good bookstores and Hachette (RRP $29.99). My copy was courtesy of Hachette.

Bookish treat: A Crunchie bar kept me from biting my fingernails.




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