Author: Jan Edwards
Publisher: Alchemy Press
Date published: March 13, 2015
Category: weird fiction,short stories, ghost stories, supernatural fiction, horror
Subtle is a good adjective to describe the tales in Leinster Gardens and Other Subtleties, a collection of short British ghost stories by Jan Edwards. Haunting, romantic, timeless, sad, and eerie: these are all adjectives that come to mind when I read this. These are ghost stories you can sink your teeth into!
I have been reading lots of pulpy horror and action books lately. Leinster Gardens, a collection of British ghost stories by Jan Edwards, was a nice change of pace. As a fan Algernon Blackwood, I loved this collection. I do not know the exact dividing line between fiction and literature, but this work is approaching literature if not already there.
There is nothing campy, over-the-top, cheesy, or cliché about any of these stories. These are familiar tales…easing the passage from life to death, dares to visit a graveyard at midnight, and a haunted house. However, they are done in a fresh and realistic way that makes the fantastic and the supernatural elements pop.
In each tale, I felt like I was dropped into the middle of someone’s life and had to figure out what was going on along with them. Some tales had surprise endings that made me want to go back and look at the hints that were masterfully detailed earlier in the tale. The foreshadowing in each story was superb, enough to make me want to find out more, but secretive enough to give the endings a surprise twist.
Each story has real substance. The author provides hints but doesn’t lead you to the answers. The detailed realism accentuates the supernatural. As an American, I enjoyed reading British vernacular, although I struggled with some dialogue, especially in “The Eve Watch.” (However, reading with a pirate accent in mind helped!)
The time periods range from the 1600’s to the present, with most being set in the early 20th century. An overarching theme examines the thin veil between life and death. Many of these stories incorporate war and/or military personnel in some way. Usually I don’t enjoy military fiction, but these tales were good and featured a very human element of war.
My favorite story was The Waiting. I don’t want to say too much about it because I don’t want to give anything away. I loved the twist ending and felt as surprised and out of place as I think the character did. The most supernatural of the tales was The Black Hound of Newgate, which was also one of my favorites.
I generally never read forwards until after I read a book. I like to read what people think about the book after I have formed my own opinions. Both the forward and the afterword shed light onto some of the origins of these stories, many of which have a basis in traditional British mythology and also the author’s personal life.
There is really nothing bad to say about this book at all. This is not light beach reading, but stories to be savored while drinking Earl Grey tea on a rainy day. I highly recommend this to anyone wanted to savor some British ghost stories!
*I received a copy of the ebook in exchange for an honest review.
Leinster Gardens and Other Subtleties is available direct from Alchemy Press https://alchemypress.wordpress.com/