Robert Aickman - Just a Song at Twilight Rosemary Timperley - The Private Torture Chamber Ronald Blythe - A Bit Simple Denys Val Baker - The Face in the Mirror Peter Ford - The Home Stretch D.G. Compton - Sarah Ronald Duncan - Consanguinity Evelyn Fabyan - The Lorraine Cross Kate Barlay - The Expert Charles Causley - A Local Haunting (verse) Alain Danielou - The Game of Dice Fielden Hughes - ‘Dear Ghost…’ Edward Hyams - Exorcizing Baldassare Christine Brooke-Rose - On Terms Paul Tabori - Fear John Pudney - Ivory Joe Anthony Rye - Hapladies William Sansom - A Saving Grace Jean Stubbs - The Unquiet Spirit R.W. Thompson - The house by the Water James Turner - The Guardian Fred Urquhart - Water Water Wallflower Rosalind Wade - Averil at Endercombe
Duncan's 'Consanguinity' is one of my all time favourite Ghost Book stories.
I ordered either the 5th or 6th Ghost Book from an online vendor, and this one came instead. The stories look at least potentially interesting so I will simply pretend that it is what I wanted in the first place.
The introduction, by James Turner, was more material in the vein of "has modern tech made the ghost story obsolescent," and included a brief memoir of Turner's time with his wife living at the old carriage house on the grounds of the infamous Borley Rectory. It seems they were hounded out of their own home by droves of curiosity-seekers and ghost-hunters--they sold the place after five years because people refused to leave them alone. That is what I got from his somewhat elliptical account of their time living there. There were some "manifestations" but no sign of the ghostly nun.
I have finally been reading some of these stories. Thus far, the otherwise unknown Fred Urquhart's "Water Water Wallflower" has been by far the most diverting of the tales. James Turner's "The Guardian" starts out promisingly, but winds up being a sketch around a situation or idea that is quite familiar from 20th century Gothic tales. Some effective writing... I wish he had developed the premise further. I'm also unfamiliar with anything else by him.
Denys Val Baker and Anthony Rye both take very hackneyed ideas and basically bludgeon them into the pavement with verbose treatments and stilted writing. Rye's contribution does have some promising passages, and I might have read something else by him that was more effective. I feel really turned off from reading anything else by DVB. I seem to recall his name having been mentioned in other entries on the Vault.
I'm obviously not reading these in any order... I just flip through the book until my eye lights upon a story with what sounds like a potentially lively opener and take it from there.
Rosalind Wade - "Averil at Endercombe" ... Julian's divorce from first wife Averil had been, if not amicable, seemingly smooth and straightforward. True, Averil's irate father had insisted on the clandestine letters Julian had written to his lover Rosemary--destined soon to become the second Mrs Julian--being cited in the divorce proceedings, resulting in Averil being awarded a hefty alimony settlement as well as the custody of son Edmond. But Averil herself had "practically fallen backwards" to give Julian his freedom. After all, people, possibly including Averil herself, had observed that Averil and Julian weren't all that suited to one another, and the marriage had not been a success.
But when Averil dies suddenly just as Julian and Rosemary are preparing to move into their lovely new fixer-upper Endercombe in rural Dorset ("a square of jade held between the forefinger and thumb of Hampshire and Devonshire"), Averil's vindictive spirit suddenly began to appear to Rosemary. And all Hell swiftly began to break loose.
Half-way round the gallery she stopped abruptly. Averil stood at the top of the stairs, barring her descent. And this time there was something altogether different about her. She no longer wore normal attire but a strange, shapeless, all-enveloping white garment which covered her so completely that only her face was revealed. Once again it was the eyes which riveted attention for this time they were caverns of burning hate.
THIS was the kind of thing I had hoped and expected to find when I began reading some volumes of this series last year. I'd give this story a high B; I found it well crafted, with some good workmanlike shocks. The only drawback for many readers will be the twist ending, which will strike most as anticlimactic and abrupt. I loved it since this particular twist spoke to some of my personal obsessions.