Wednesday, 5 June 2019

Don't forget to vote in the reader poll!

Supernatural Tales 40If you still haven't voted in the reader poll for best story in issue 40, go here and click away.

NB - I have decided to end the poll on 30th June, so if you haven't voted yet, vote now. Or soon. You know.

Saturday, 1 June 2019

Ghosts (BBC 2019)

In every generation there must be a silly TV series about the supernatural which does not aspire to be anything other than entertaining. Or at least there ought to be one. Ghosts, which is available on the BBC iPlayer here, is a good example of a comedy that plays with familiar haunted house tropes and pretty much gets it right. It's not scary (because it's a comedy) but it is enjoyable if you put your brain in neutral and simply watch what happens. If you've seen Horrible Histories, it's the same kind of thing only with a slightly more adult slant, hence it's relatively late time slot.

The premise is the time-honoured gimmick whereby a very, very distant relative of a deceased toff inherits a big country house. Alison (Charlotte Ritchie) is the inheritor of the crumbling Button Hall. She and her boyfriend Mike (Kiell Smyth-Bynoe) plan to renovate the hall and turn it into a posh hotel. But Alison has a near-death experience that leaves her able to see ghosts - and the house is full of them.

Sunday, 26 May 2019

Not to Be Taken at Bed-Time & Other Strange Stories - Review

This fairly new volume from the Swan River Press is a very beautiful book. I need to make that clear from the outset - I have never seen a better-looking small press volume (and I've seen a few in my time, missus). The dustcover design by Megan Kehrli, from artwork by Brian Coldrick, is superb, and perfectly suited to the contents. A ghostly apparition is at the centre, surrounded a rather attractive design of roses and a small bird. The art on the inside cover is equally fine, with its ladder placed at an open window and more beautiful foliage around it.

I mention this because Rosa Mulholland's stories are fine examples of Victorian Romantic fiction in both senses of the term. The original meaning of Romantic was dangerous, Gothic, weird, not quite respectable. By the time Mulholland (1841-1921) started writing for Dickens' famous magazine All the Year Round the sharper edges of Romanticism had been dulled a little, but despite her Victorian sensibility the author still manages to convey a sense of strange in her (mostly) ghostly tales. They are also romantic in the familiar sense, in that most concern love - often unrequited or thwarted, but sometimes fulfilled in a heartwarming way after many trials.

Sunday, 12 May 2019

The Devil Commands (1941)

William F. Sloane's second and last novel, The Edge of Running Water, is a neglected classic that could arguably be classed as a Wellsian scientific romance. It has none of the feel of pulp magazine sci-fi/horror, instead offering a fairly sedate narrative with well-rounded characters and a striking central premise. Like Sloane's first book, To Walk the Night, it's a slow-burner with a lot of style, and key scenes stick in the memory.