Friday, March 11, 2022

The Haunting Season: Eight Ghostly Tales for Long Winter Nights

The Haunting Season is an odd volume containing eight stories by eight supposed bestselling writers. The writers are seven women and one man. No editor is credited, so one wonders: how did stories get selected for this book? All eight writers are British, and none seem to be especially known on this side of the Atlantic. I've read novels by two of them before, the one by Bridget Collins was reviewed at this site on January 30, 2019. Collins's story opens this volume, and I found it as unsatisfying as her novel. Stories by Imogen Hermes Gowar, Laura Purcell, and Kirin Millwood Hargrave, are somewhat traditional. Stories by Andrew Michael Hurley (the other author I've read before) and Elizabeth Macneal attempt to do something more unusual, but they don't pull it off successfully. The story by Jess Kidd  begins with a photographer called in to photograph an extremely beautiful young dead woman. It pulls the reader in, but soon goes off in tangents, leaving an unsatisfying denouement. The story by Natasha Pulley ("The Eel Singers") is the strangest and most interesting one in the book: odd characters are affected by the landscape and history of an isolated region of the fens. As a themed anthology, the book doesn't work. As a modern example of the ghostly tradition, the book doesn't work. None of the stories are terrible, but none are especially good. Most of them read like first drafts--which could have been bettered with some thought applied to them during revision. A disappointment overall.

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