Haunted Voices: An Anthology of Gothic Storytelling from Scotland

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Title: Haunted Voices: An Anthology of Gothic Storytelling from Scotland

Writer: Various edited by Rebecca Wojturska

Publishing House: Haunt Publishing

Date of Publication: October 25th 2019

Rating: 5 stars

‘’To let the Gothic roam where it will, twisting itself into shapes horrible and unseen. To wait for it to open its ancient mouth and to listen – to listen to what this age-old thing has to tell us about the terrors and wonders of our world. So, gather ring the hearth, or light a candle, and enjoy these tales of terror from some of the most talented oral storytellers in Scotland.’’

The Warlock and Robbie Ha (Stanley Robertson): The story of a man who wanted to offer his help to an undertaker. But drinking in graveyards can be perilous. A tale full of Scottish humour, curses and spells in the country where there is always a wise old Morag to narrate legends as the wind is blowing over the glens…

‘’A house that caught and smiled with the sun. Yet when you passed it, even on a bright warm day, you could feel cold fingers touch the back of your neck, and your hair moved.’’

The House (Seaoras Macpherson): Sometimes, even the darkest and angriest of houses are searching for the right owner…

‘’It is statistically true that when you’re the passenger in a car, driving at night along a road outside a city or built-up area, one in four people you see by the side of the road isn’t even alive.’’

The Researcher (Fiona Barnett): How can you really distinguish a wraith walking at the side of the road?

‘’There’s lots of reason people don’t like the night-time, but some people are scared because they see what hides there, ‘’ he said, looking at me, smiling sadly. ‘’Is that not right?’’

‘’There is no rest; those faces that once moved only amongst the night-time shadows now stare at me at every hour of the day, as if pleading with me to gather them up in the warmth of the living, or to usher them forever into the dark. But I am no lamplighter.’’

The Leerie (Paul Bristow): Dear Lord, this story was incredible! I’ve always thought there is magic hidden in the old gas lamplights, and seeing an actual lamplighter in Prague was a sight to cherish forever. This haunting story shows the ones that are hidden in the dark, lost, waiting for someone to point the way.

The Bean-Nighe of Glen Aros (Anna Cheung): A moving poem about the legend of the crone that washes the clothes of the ones who will die soon. I get goosebumps just by thinking of this one.

The Soulmates (Gavin Inglis): A story that begins as a harmless joke played on curious nightly wanderers by a cute couple and evolves into a heart-wrenching tale of loss and eternal love.

Twice-Buried Mary (Pauline Cordiner): A wonderful story of premature burial, resurrectionists and terror. Quintessentially Victorian.

Scan Lines (Ali Maloney): A moving story of a child who tries to contact his dead father in a rather unusual way. On a side note, I always feel a certain kind of nostalgia whenever a VHS is mentioned.

The Girl in the Sauna (Daiva Ivanauskaite): Ah, sweet Lithuania…This is the story of a clever, brave daughter who managed to trick the Devil.

From Abyss to Abyss (Paul McQuade): The desperate musings of an Edinburgh vampire, narrating its journey over the long, endless years.

The Thing in the Corner (Jude Reid): The desperation of a wife, the sacrilege, the return of a wounded soldier. The dark shapes and figures that lurk in the corners of our houses. And our guilts.

The Priest of Forvie (P.D.Brown): The arrival of a strange priest sends a village to a dance of darkness and misery. When children start disappearing, whispers about Dark Arts grow louder. A gruesome, frightening tale.

‘’Until I die. She rubbed where the etched words had caught her. If we had had breath, we would have held it.’’

The Keep (Kristy Logan): Some things are natural. Natural. It is natural that Kristy Logan’s story is the absolute gem of the collection. It is natural that she took Bluebeard’s tale and turned it into a well of haunting darkness, masterful desperation and shuttering cries. It is natural that I read this story three times in a row.

Read this extract, please: ‘’Outside the caravan the rain shushed and the wind throbbed and the moon blinked bright. Inside, time stopped. The chattering burn stole all sound; the spreading leaves took all sight.’’

I mean…

The Ghost Wife (Gauri Raje): An exciting story of tree spirits, ghost wives and the curse of having a tyrannical mother-in-law.

I Live Alone (Conner McAleese): What starts as a ‘’compulsive watcher’’ story acquires an eerie feeling in the end. Those of us who live alone, are we sure we ARE actually alone?

Possessed by Ravens (Daru McAleece): The tragic story of the Old Ways and a lost young man.

When We Create Our Own Ghosts (Alycia Pirmohamed): ‘’As soon as night ravels, I open my jaws to eat midnight.’’

The Wee Singing Bird (Betsy White): A spirited retelling of The Juniper Tree fairy tale.

Poor Anna (Max Scratchmann): A young girl visits her grandma in the Scottish glens and learns of Poor Anna, the child that was lost years ago. A haunting tale of dark callings and fairies with an ending that has stuck in my head for days.

Tala in the Woods (Katalina Watt): The horrifying tale of a young woman, pregnant with her first child, a strange mist and the creatures hiding in the woods. A story that makes perfect use of South American and Spanish folklore.

Lambkin (Sheila Kinninmonth): An old Scottish legend of curses and retribution.

‘’As I record this story, Anna, I am surrounded by this city constructed of towns built upon dead towns and buildings built inside bridges that should not exist.’’

Anne of the Dark Eyes (Ricky Monahan Brown): A gruesome murder takes place in haunting Edinburgh. The culprit’s name is going to be a thundering surprise.

The Stolen Winding Sheet (Fran Flett): Never steal from the dead…

The Inheritance (Chris Edwards): How can I describe the sheer perfection of this story? A young woman inherits the ancestral home but make no mistake. This isn’t your average haunted-house tale. Far from it…

Buried by the Dead (Jen McGregor): A woman visits her parents’ grave and scares the hell out of a girl. I loved this story, its beautifully quiet descriptions of the cemetery in October and its elegant humour.

I didn’t include five-six stories that seemed quite silly and borderline incomprehensible. No matter. This is a must-have collection for all horror and folklore lovers. Pay special attention to the haunting (and some of them are quite spooky…) illustrations by Zuzanna Kwiecien.

‘’If there was no reason to be afraid of the dark, why did we need lamplighters?’’