Friday, 20 July 2018

'The House'

This short-short from Peter Bell's new collection is a traditional tale of three academic gentlemen with an interest in ghost stories. They set out to find the home of a lady writer whose only book was a collection entitled House.

When they do find the house it turns out to be for sale. One venturesome scholar decides to try and get inside for a look around, while the other two adjourn to a nearby pub.

So far so realistic. But what detains the expert in all things Gothic? A second academic sets off for the house to find out what has happened. He catches a glimpse of his colleague through a window. The front door is unlocked, oddly enough. He goes inside...

Cut to the third scholar, who waits in vain for his friends to turn up at the pub. He goes back to the long-dead writer's house and finds traces of his colleagues. Then he finds in the library that rarest of items, a first edition of ghost stories. Inside he reads a story that has some familiar ingredients. The ending reminds me slightly of H.R. Wakefield in its clever cruelty. And it's nice to see an author noted for long, lavish description prove he can write a compact tale with plenty  of dialogue.

With a bit of luck this running review will continue tomorrow.

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