Thursday, 28 February 2019

ST Kindle Editions - Still Compellingly Cheap!


Supernatural Tales 39: Winter 2018/19 by [Longhorn, David , Nelkin, Carrie Vaccaro, Davis, Danielle, Clark, Chloe N. , Parker, Rosalie, Shepherd, Eloise C. C., Karmazin, Margaret ]

I mean, seriously, ST is just over a quid, English money

That's quite reasonable, especially for a magazine that includes a story that has been selected by Ellen Datlow for inclusion in her famed Year's Best anthology. I'm talking about 'A Tiny Mirror' by Eloise C.C. Shepherd.

Why not give it a try? You have surprisingly little to lose...

Wednesday, 27 February 2019

Weekly Bone Blast

Where Are The Bones?

Just your regular reminder that Jacqueline Simpson's fine collection is available to order, print-on-demand, from the Lulu website. Go here to order it.
Contents: "Introduction" by Jacqueline Simpson; "Three Padlocks"; "On Danish Dunes"; "Where are the Bones...?"; "Vampire Viking Queen"; "Dragon Path"; "The Trophy"; "Rowland's Hall"; "Purty Liddle Dears"; "The Game of Bear"; "The Guardian"; "The Pepper-Pot"; "Afterword" by Gail-Nina Anderson; "A Note on Will Stone" by Rosemary Pardoe.

Get Out (2017)



While not strictly a supernatural horror tale, Get Out has so many of the ingredients of the old-school Gothic horror film that I'm sure it will appeal to ST's target demographic thingy. Written and directed by US comedy star Jordan Peele, the film is a tale that blends America's long-standing racial inequalities with some mad science, to very powerful (and often funny) effect. The opening sequence, with a black man violently abducted by a helmeted figure in a leafy suburb, only hints at the wackiness to come.

Sunday, 24 February 2019

'Under the Greenwood Tree' by Cardinal Cox

Another poetry pamphlet has come winging its way from exotic Peterborough. In his covering letter the poet has added the comment 'Might not be of interest'. I take the point, that this small collection of poems is about a fictionalized Druidic tradition in the 'quasi-history of American Renaissance faires'.

Well, it is interesting, though the title is a mite confusing, as Thomas Hardy used it for his second published novel. Never mind. We begin with ancient Celtic saints in 'The Martyrdom of Saint Pyr', weaving together different traditions to suggest how druids might have survived by become hermetic herbalists and the like. We move on to May Day dances and the busking tradition, another way for old knowledge to survive in apparently harmless forms. Elsewhere, Green Men carved into churches point to strange, visionary experiences - 'chewed leaves to let prophecies flow'.

One of the great pleasures of these poetry pamphlets is that they are rich in ideas. As usual there are fascinating footnotes to the poems, offering a series of insights and connections that connect mythical figures - Arthur, Robin Hood, Prince Madoc - with real historical events. Tom Lock I had not heard of, nor the Greek buried around 110 BC in what would become East Anglia, a 'Spartan spy among savages'.

While not supernatural tales, these poems open windows into the beliefs from which much folklore - and therefore folk horror - is formed. If you'd like to rest 'Under the Greenwood Tree', so to speak, you can get a copy by sending a SAE to:

58 Pennington
Orton Goldhay
Peterborough
PE2 5RB

Wednesday, 20 February 2019

Best Horror of the Year!

Supernatural Tales 39From Ellen Datlow on Facebook, I find that 'A Tiny Mirror' by Eloise C.C. Shepherd has made it to the most prestigious anthology of them all. So that's great news for the author, and rather spiffing for ST.

The book will be published by Nightshade Press in September.

Well done, Elly! Here is a link to the author's website.

If you want to read the story that so impressed Ellen, ST#39 can be bought in printed or digital form.



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Tuesday, 19 February 2019

Undertow Publications

Just a quick mention for the excellent Undertow Publications, who have moved to a shiny new website. Along with a move to a more secure web location, UP is also launching a new range of 'contemporary classics' in very posh, deluxe hardcovers. The first two authors in the series are no strangers to the pages of ST, I'm glad to say...

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Monday, 18 February 2019

The Conception of Terror: Tales Inspired by M.R. James - Vol. 1

The Conception of Terror: Tales Inspired by M. R. James - Volume 1 cover art

That's quite a title, isn't it? I must admit it threw me a bit, but I suppose it gets the job done. The point is that here we have Audible, a division of Amazon, muscling in on what was pretty much BBC Radio 4 territory with adaptations of stories by Monty James. I've downloaded and listened to the four audio dramas on my Kindle Fire (I'm not getting paid for all this product placement), and here's my take on this interesting development.


First up, you have four stories here, and the selection is itself interesting. First up, 'Casting the Runes' - well, no surprise there, it's a cracking idea and has been made into a film and a TV drama. Second is 'Lost Hearts', another well-known and much-anthologised work, and of course one of the classic BBC TV adaptations from the Seventies. Third is 'The Treasure of Abbot-Thomas' (yes, the hyphen is correct), for me one of the lesser tales, but again quite popular with readers. Fourth is 'A View from a Hill', which was adapted for television a few years ago but is not so widely admired as the other three, if polling by Ghosts & Scholars readers is to be believed.

Where are the Bones?

Where Are The Bones?

Here are the bones! This excellent book of M.R. Jamesian/folk horror tales is available to purchase online. Anyone who enjoys traditional ghost stories will find much to enjoy here. The contents are:

Saturday, 16 February 2019

Gatiss and Moffatt and Stoker

Well, a new BBC version of Dracula is happening, and it's a co-production with Netflix, thus moving the Count's antics into the groovy realms of webcasting. Stephen Moffatt and Mark Gatiss are at the helm, so at least we know they guys in charge have read the book and seen most (maybe all) previous adaptations. Dracula will be played by Claes Bang, who certainly looks right.

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It's suggested in the article linked above that Gatiss himself might be playing Renfield, which sounds delightful. Most of the cast are new to me, which is a good thing, too. Stoker's characters are mostly young folk, after all - consider the amount of running about they have to do. But who will play Van Helsing? I'm inclined to agree with the Radio Times here, and wonder if a big-name actor is going to be announced later.

We can but wait and wonder. Will there be a whole lot of very dodgy blood transfusions? Will Dracula be able to function (albeit on reduced power) by daylight? Will the Brides be very naughty indeed? These and other questions will etcetera. But I think we can state with confidence that this adaptation will be more canonical than most.

Thursday, 14 February 2019

Tuesday, 12 February 2019

Yet More Monty!

Are we seeing a revival of interest in M.R. James among media folk? I've no idea, but it's interesting that the Amazon company Audible,  which produces audiobooks, is producing new 'radio drama' dramatisations of tales by Monty. (The link is to a Doctor Who fan site because there's a bit of crossover re: actors and writers.) It all looks very promising.

Here are some more details.
Casting the Runes. 
Adapted by Stephen Gallagher. When academic Jo Harrington (Anna Maxwell Martin) is sent a paper – The Truth of Alchemy, by Anton Karswell – for peer review, she pulls no punches. It has no place in a serious academic publication, and Karswell is a half-bright fool. However, when the editor writes a rejection note to Karswell, he inadvertently includes her entire email. Occultist Karswell (Reece Shearsmith) doesn’t take kindly to criticism. On the tube home with her partner Edward Dunning (Tom Burke), Jo spots a poster with her name on it. It reads: ‘In memory of Joanne Harrington, M.Litt, PhD, died September eighteenth, three days were allowed.’ Is there anything that Edward can do to save Jo from this curse?
Lost Hearts 
Adapted by A. K. Benedict. Teenager Stephanie Elliot (Rosa Coduri) is taken to Aswarby House to be fostered by Mrs Bunch (Susan Jameson). Stephanie strikes up a friendship with Ben (Bill Milner), the adopted son of charismatic community leader Mr Abney (Jeff Rawle). He tells her that Mr Abney is a good man: he even took in a child refugee last year, but she ran away and stole from him. Stephanie is troubled by voices and visions of a dead girl clutching at her chest, and when Ben disappears she begins to suspect that all is not right in Aswarby House. 
The Treasure of Abbot-Thomas
Adapted by Jonathan Barnes. When former Somerton school pupil Greg Parsbury (Robert Bathurst) meets history teacher Mika Chantry (Pearl Mackie) at a memorial service for schoolmaster Sam Abbot-Thomas, he begs for her help. He has been sent a postcard by the estate of the mysterious and charismatic Abbot-Thomas. On it is a strange inscription in Latin, which he believes to be an inaugural clue in a treasure hunt: much like the elaborate treasure hunts Abbot-Thomas used to set back in the 1970s. There were rumours that Abbot-Thomas possessed a hidden fortune, and Parsbury and Chantry set out to find it. 
A View from a Hill 
Adapted by Mark Morris. Comedian and podcaster Paul Fanshawe (Andy Nyman) and his wife, Sarah (Alice Lowe), visit the Cotswolds on holiday, trying to rebuild their lives after the death of their young son, Archie. Whilst out walking they spot a beautiful abbey across the valley on Gallows Hill, but when they reach it, they find the building is little more than rubble. While Sarah explores, Paul records commentary for his podcast. Sarah thinks she hears children’s laughter, but there’s no-one there. Later that night she listens back to the recording and hears a child’s voice whisper, ‘Mummy.’ Sarah is convinced that Archie is trying to reach them and wants to return to the ruins. But something far worse is waiting for them on Gallows Hill.
I think it's fair to say that some of these adaptations play fast and loose with the original stories. But if you update something, make a proper job of it, say I. The recent podcast version of The Case of Charles Dexter Ward by the BBC is a case in point - the central idea remains intact, and it works well. 

Saturday, 2 February 2019

Dr. Jacqueline Simpson in Iceland





Yes, the author of the splendid stories in Where Are the Bones (see previous post) went to Iceland and talked about The Folklore of Discworld, which she co-authored with the late Sir Terry Pratchett. Suffice to say that in the process of a long interview/discussion she tackles a lot of subjects (and gets a lot of laughs).

Friday, 1 February 2019

Where Are the Bones?

I'm delighted to announce the appearance of a new collection of supernatural fiction by an excellent author. Rosemary Pardoe's renowned Haunted Library has joined forces with Supernatural Tales to produce this collection of stories by leading folklore expert Jacqueline Simpson. You can buy the book online via Lulu here, using the same print-on-demand system as for ST. 

Where Are The Bones?

This volume contains all of Jacqueline's tales that first appeared in ST or Ghosts & Scholars, plus some extras. Needless to say, it's a cracking read and well worth getting your hands on. Many of these stories concern the M.R. James circle, particularly the three featuring Monty's friend and travelling companion Will Stone. But there is also a Lovecraftian story of cosmic shenanigans, and one aimed at fans of a long-running television series. There is a learned afterword by Dr. Gail-Nina Anderson, plus introduction and notes by the editor. Here are the contents:



"Introduction" by Jacqueline Simpson

The Will Stone Stories
"Three Padlocks" 
"On Danish Dunes" 
"Where are the Bones...?"
"Vampire Viking Queen"

"Dragon Path"

"The Trophy"

"Rowland's Hall"

"Purty Liddle Dears"

"The Game of Bear"

"The Guardian

"The Pepper-Pot"

"Afterword" by Gail-Nina Anderson"

"A Note on Will Stone" by Rosemary Pardoe