Picture the scene: Victorian London. A smoky club. A group of literary icons. The price to join this group? A story of the supernatural. The scene is now set.
Imagine the tales these writers of old would share. Stoker, Dickens, Wells, James, and Stevenson, among others. What price would you pay to sit at that table? Unfortunately, the opportunity to sit there in person is gone, but thanks to William Meikle, you CAN now be privy to these stories and anything else these authors have to say. The entrance fee for you? Quite reasonable!
The standout tales for me were:
WEE DAVIE MAKES A FRIEND (in the style of) Robert Louis Stevenson. This was the first story and my favorite of the collection. Young Davie is an unwell boy and is often bedridden. The gift of a new toy changes his life.
ONCE A JACKASS (in the style of) Mark Twain. A Mississippi steamship captain makes a terrible mistake and unfortunately, all of the passengers and crew pay the price.
THE SCRIMSHAW SET (in the style of Henry James) I adored this tale of a haunted (?) chess set. This was my second favorite tale in this collection and I've just read that the author is planning to write more about this set in the future. I can't wait!
TO THE MOON AND BEYOND (in the style of Jules Verne) A super cool story about a man, his rocket and a trip to the moon. What was found there and what did he bring back with him? You'll have to read this to find out!
BORN OF ETHER (in the style of Helena Blavatsky) A man embarks upon a supernatural journey to freedom.
I was not familiar with a few of the authors here, Helena Blavatsky included, but I think the author did a stellar job of emulating their writing styles. These tales were entertaining, well written and I loved the framework within which they were presented.
For these reasons, I highly recommend this gem of a collection!
You can get your copy here, (your price of admission, rather than a story):
*Thanks to Crystal Lake Publishing and the author for the e-ARC of this book in exchange for my honest review. This is it!*
December 1th: The Open Door by Margaret Oliphant (from Classic Ghost Stories)
A story about a father, whose son falls sick after he has encountered something strange in the ruins on their home property, and his subsequent search for the truth behind the encounter.
This short story was an ok one. The parts I enjoyed the most were the nightly trips to the ruins, the juniper bush with a life of its own and the sceptical doctor, who doesn´t believe in superstitious mumbo jumbo. A good and decent story. This will definitely not be my last read by Mrs. Oliphant. 3 Stars.
December 2th: They by Rudyard Kipling (from Classic Ghost Stories)
This short story has some beautiful writing, even though the prose is too flowery for my taste (do you really need 2,5 pages to tell the reader, that the narrator got lost in the country side? I don´t think so). And I didn´t like the story. 1) There is no suspense at all, because it is clear from the get go what is up with those children and 2) I need someone who explains the ending to me. I didn´t get the ending at all. 1,5 Stars.
December 3th: The Captain of the "Pole-Star" by Arthur Conan Doyle (from The Valancourt Book of Victorian Christmas Ghost Stories and Classic Ghost Stories)
I really enjoyed this story and I loved the setting(a whaling ship stuck in the polar region). It´s one of my favorite settings and it works wonderfully in this story. The captain is an intriguing character I would have liked to know more about and Conan Doyle is setting him up in a very mystical way. The fact that the story is told from the point of view of the ships doctor adds to the mystery, since he takes a rational approach to everything that is happening on the ship. A great example of Conan Doyles weird fiction. 4 Stars.
I don't know how many of these I'll actually manage to read in December, but I have a Kindle folder for Christmas books that I'd like to read. There are more than are shown here, but the widget is moving slow and I can't be bothered.
Anyway, I think it's time for a re-read of Dickens and I'd like to try some others if I can find the time between my other reads.
My review contains spoilers and they're mostly my thoughts...
The Lost Letter by Mimi Matthews is a sweet Victorian romance novella. I was really intrigued by the blurb so I gave it a try. This being the author’s debut, I had no idea what I was getting into, yet was pleasantly surprised by the story and the characters. However, in the end, it did feel like the story had not been delivered to its full potentials.
The Lost Letter opens up as we’re introduced to our h, Sylvia. Once a shining star on the Ton’s sky as the glorious “Miss Stafford”, she’s now serving as a governess to a merchant family who are decidedly down the social ladder. The family is kind to her but her fall from grace had been no less painful when her over-the-top gambler father committed suicide to escape the tremendous debt he’d amassed. He was a selfish SOB, didn’t even think of his only child. He left her to the buzzards to pick at her. Sylvia had a rough year trying to come to terms with both her peer of the realm father’s sudden demise and her diminished social status, which meant she had no prospect of marriage any longer. Which also meant she’d be living out her life as a spinster, and the most honorable job would be of the position of a governess. That too, if anyone deigns to give her a job. Sylvia is grateful to her employers for taking her in when she thought there was no one to help her.