'Mouselode Maze' by Christopher Harman

We reach the penultimate story in The Ghosts & Scholars Book of Mazes, and return to fairly familiar territory. Here is the country house, here is the maze, here is the tradition of eccentric aristos who are no longer in possession.

As always, Harman offers a nicely-detailed narrative as two garden designers compete with another team for the contract to revamp the gardens. The contrast between the team members is both convincing and a major plot device, with the more sober POV character making assumptions about his more impulsive colleague that turn out to be sensible, but wrong.

The maze and the odd sisters who used to own it feature prominently, and there is a good-natured nod to M.R. James as the protagonist listens to odd noises amid the hedges. There is also a very strange and original Thing that is foreshadowed very cleverly. Truly the finale of this story is the stuff of nightmares.

And on that spoiler-free statement, I will move on to the last story.


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