This collection, by Stewart King, consists of five short stories, all set around Christmas.
The first, “Burning the Oil” tells of Mr. Jacobson, a dealer in house clearance items. Despite there being a power cut, he cannot resist going to look at his latest acquisitions. He feels sure that something special has been delivered and lights a candle he finds among the pile of furniture. Surprises are in store for him!
“Picnic in Grovely Wood” sees Fraser breaking his routine. This decision has a tremendous impact on his life. “He’s Checking it Twice” is a spooky ghost story about a woman who got what she wished for and “Rumbly Tumblies” is a quirky, dark story about Donald’s solitary Christmas in a Cornish fishing village. The last story in the collection, “Epilogue” is a macabre nod towards Charles Dickens.
I have to say that I really enjoyed these stories. Although each was very short, I felt that they all delivered a little shiver down the spine. There are similarities to the ghost stories written in the 19th century, in that they are not brash, but have a subtle understatement, which I find more “skin crawling” than blood and gore.
My only wish is that there had been more stories in the collection.
- Victorian Ghost Stories: An Oxford Anthology (bfgb.wordpress.com)