The Valancourt Book of Victorian Christmas Ghost Stories, Vol. Two
Edited by Grant Allen
Review by Mario Guslandi
Valancourt Books Paperback ISBN/ITEM#: 9781943910892
Date: 28 November 2017 List Price $16.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK
If, like me, you love Victorian ghost stories featuring haunted mansions, secret rooms, dark family secrets, apparitions from beyond the grave etc., here's a real treat for you, revisiting the Christmas atmosphere of those past times, when ghostly tales were told around a fire to elicit shudders and shivers despite the warmth emanating from the fireplace. Interestingly, most of the fifteen stories included in the book have never been reprinted before, since their original appearance in old magazines, which represents, to the genre lovers, a further attraction.
Once again we must be grateful to Valancourt Books for unearthing little, dark gems from a long gone era and making them available once again to the current readers. All the stories are well worth reading, enjoyable and entertaining as they are, but some, I believe, deserve a special mention.
"The Ghost of the Treasure-Chamber" signed by a Mrs. Emily Arnold in 1886, is rather predictable, yet fully enjoyable classic ghost story, where a treasure is finally retrieved and a happy existence ensured. Similarly "The Steel Mirror " by William W Fenn (1867) is yet another classic ghost story, aptly taking place at Christmas time, employing many conventional clichés of the genre, but graced by such an engrossing narrative style to become a real page-turner.
"White Satin", a delightful Gothic piece written by an anonymous author, is about a ghost who's no ghost. The story being is set in England during the Jacobite Rising. "Christmas Eve in Beach House" by Eliza Lynn Linton, published in 1870, is a dark drama with a touch of the supernatural, taking place on the Cornish coast.
The deliciously unsettling "The Necromancer (or Ghost versus Gramayre)" by Isabella Frances Romer (1842) describes how a murder is revealed thanks to a supernatural agency. "Number Two, Melrose Square" by Theo Gift, is a very dark, atmospheric, and sinister tale which leaves the reader puzzled and disturbed by describing strange happenings and hinting at even more disreputable past events occurring in a London house.
"A Terrible Retribution (or Squire Orton's Ghost)", anonymously published in 1871, is a vivid ghost story blending passion, crime, greed, and revenge with an unexpected twist in the tail.
Secure a copy of this superb anthology and you won't be disappointed.