Gathering together deliciously chilling tales from the three highly-acclaimed volumes of Virago ghost stories, this collection features stories by A. S. Byatt, Angela Carter, Charlotte Brontë, Antonia Fraser, Penelope Lively, Ruth Rendell, Edith Wharton, and many more. Here lost loves, past enmities, and unwanted memories mingle with the inexplicable as unquiet souls return to repay kindnesses, settle scores, and haunt the imagination. All of the writers demonstrate a subtle power to delight and chill at the same time as they explore the ghostly margins of the supernatural.
It took me forever to read this book, as I was reading it at a rate of a couple of stories a week for about a month and a bit. I’m still getting used to the short story thing, and I was writing and researching at the same time, which meant loads of crashing into bed at 3am and being dead to the world immediately. This equates to a phenomenally bad few months of reading!
I was really impressed with the majority of these stories. I liked how they were ordered chronologically, so that you could see the gradual changes in the ghost story style.
The real stand out favourite for me was “The Mistress in Black” by Rosemary Timperley, which I thought was absolutely phenomenal. It was the sort of short story that I wish I wrote. I have a feeling that I might write a wee story to add to it myself, I loved it that much… I want to fill in the blanks.
Antonia Fraser’s “Who’s Been Sitting in My Car” was pretty scary, and went wayyyyy beyond what I thought it would. “The Haunted Saucepan” was really quite fun, and A.S. Byatt’s contribution far better than I expected. There were a few stories that weren’t anywhere near the kind of standard I’d expect- I skipped two of them, one being “The Happy Autumn Fields”, as it was confusing and boring. However, only two really bad efforts in one collection is pretty decent, especially considering my relationship with short stories.