BOOK REVIEW: Tales from the Dead of Night, edited by Cecily Gayford


BOOK REVIEW: Tales from the Dead of Night, edited by Cecily GayfordTitle: Tales from the Dead of Night: Thirteen Classic Ghost Stories by Cecily Gayford
Published by Profile Books
Published: November 25th 2014
Genres: Fiction
Pages: 288
Format: Hardcover
Source: Purchased

"These classic chillers will certainly make you look under the bed at night."—Daily Mail
From rural England to colonial India, in murky haunted mansions and under modern electric lighting, these master storytellers—some of the best writers in the English language—unfold spine-tinglers that pull back the veil of everyday life to reveal the nightmares that lurk just out of sight.
Contains ghost stories by Ruth Rendell, M. R. James, Rudyard Kipling, Edith Wharton, E. F. Benson, E. Nesbit, Saki, W. W. Jacobs, W. F. Harvey, Hugh Walpole, Chico Kidd, and LP Hartley.

 Two travellers sat alone in a train carriage.

‘Do you believe in ghosts?’ asked one, by way of conversation.

‘Yes,’ said the other, and vanished.

Tales From the Dead of Night: Thirteen Classic Ghost Stories is a collection of ghost stories by still-known and lesser-known authors. Over half of the names I didn’t recognize, and those unknown half to me had the more mediocre stories in the collection. My favorites of the collection are “The Shadow,” by E. Nesbit, “The Cotillon,” by L.P. Hartley, “Pomegranate Seed,” by Edith Wharton, and “The Black Veil,” by A.F. Kidd.

I will admit that I purchased this title mostly because the cover is absolutely gorgeous. I’ve held on to the book for several years because I kept putting off reading it, but during October, I made an effort to read more ghost stories and more “Halloween” things, and this was at the top of my list. I love reading Gothic fiction and older ghost stories written and set in times before the advancement of technology because things seem a bit more eerie then, but this collection to me failed to be a cohesive collection. A few stories gave me the shivers, but the rest plodded on and didn’t entice me in the slightest, even while taking into account the styles and techniques of Victorian and Gothic literature.

Below are the stories in this collection I think are worth reading and thinking about in the context of society and in the context of literary ghost stories:

Edith Wharton’s “Pomegranate Seed” focuses on a haunting of an upper class marriage in New York City and examines a woman’s fear.

L.P. Hartley’s “The Cotillon” explores an extra guest at an extravagant party.

E. Nesbit’s “The Shadow” uses a frame story to tell the ghost story (and honestly the frame story is more exciting than the story inside the story).

A.F. Kidd’s “The Black Veil” is probably one of the scariest stories I’ve ever read.

tales from the dead of night, posted on fairy.bookmother on IG

An Homage to the Ghost Story; Gillian Flynn’s The Grownup


An Homage to the Ghost Story; Gillian Flynn’s The GrownupTitle: The Grownup by Gillian Flynn
Published by Crown
Published: November 3rd 2015
Genres: Fiction
Pages: 64
Format: Hardcover
Source: Blogging for Books
Buy: Bookshop(afflilate link)

I get really critical when it comes to genres. Especially critical when the genre is a glossed-over one. The Grownup is touted as an homage to the “classic ghost story.” There aren’t any ghosts in Flynn’s short story. Not really. After I read this, I thought back to my courses on Gothic literature and sensation fiction. This is a story meant to titillate the senses, to make you jump out of your skin a little bit. There’s an old house with blood stains, a “psychic” woman, a “psycho” woman, strange children, and stranger behaviors emanating from an even stranger house. The Grownup felt more like an homage to the Gothic style rather than the ghost story. Ghost stories come in all forms, so I feel like that’s not descriptive enough. And I do get it, the average reader will be more interested in the ghost story as the word “Gothic” brings up romantic silliness and grandiose language.

The story starts out normally. Well, normally for Flynn. It gets progressively weirder the more the narrator gets involved with Susan Burke. And by act three, shit hits the fan. Is Susan trying to kill the narrator? Is her stepson? Is anyone trying to kill anyone, and is everyone just a little off their rocker? It ended on an open note, and you can’t really get from the ending whether or not it’s going to end well for the narrator. However, if you are reading it as if she’s writing this herself, the end of it is quite literally the end. She possibly never got the chance to finish writing her story.

I like Flynn’s writing. I wanted more of The Grownup. I didn’t realize it was a standalone printing of a short story I read in George R.R. Martin’s Rogues anthology until I received it in the mail and read the front cover (sometimes I like to be surprised by things by authors with whom I’m familiar). I admittedly have only read this and Gone Girl (I own the other two), so this makes me want to bring up her other titles to a higher spot on my TBR because she writes fascinating women.

This book was provided to me by Blogging for Books for review. All opinions are my own.