Thursday, September 30, 2010

Madam Crowl's Ghost & Other Stories

I first learned about Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu through Harriet Vane, the detective novelist love interest for Lord Peter Wimsey in Dorothy L Sayers' mystery stories. When Harriet returns to Oxford to help track down a poison pen in Gaudy Night, she uses research into Le Fanu's writings as a plausible cover for her return to college. Her interest sparked mine.

This collection of ghost stories, originally written in the mid- to late-1800s is a bit verbose and slightly dated and the work is a bit uneven. But for those of us who aren't looking for truly horrific ghost stories, these are just right. Perfect for snuggling under the covers late at night and giving oneself a mild case of the shivers. Some of the stories (for instance, "Dickon the Devil" and "The Vision of Tom Chuff") remind me of ghost stories told around the camp fire or at sleep-overs. Meant to make you just a little bit uncomfortable, but not enough to give you the screaming heebie-jeebies and prevent sleep. The best of the lot is the title story, "Madam Crowl's Ghost." It is the longest and the best thought out. The descriptions serve the story well and, unlike some of the stories which appear later in the book (but were written earlier), do not go on forever and bore the reader with too much of a good thing. And the final twist at the end of the story is nicely done. Over all, a pleasant read as I head into October and Halloween season. I read this as my spooky Halloween entry for the Fall into Reading Challenge. Three stars out of five.


Leanna Elle said...

Sounds deliciously spooky - just in time for Halloween!

I'm stopping by via Read my Review at A Trillian Books where I've added my own spooky offering! :)

Danielle Zappavigna said...

Thanks for stopping by to read my review of Shiver. I love old stories like these - mostly because I find the language so great!