Title: Dark Tales
Writer: Shirley Jackson
Publishing House: Penguin Classics
Date of Publication: September 28th 2017
Rating: 5 stars
‘’Miss Adela Strangeworth stepped daintily along Main Street on her way to the grocery. The sun was shining, the air was fresh and clear after the night’s heavy rain, and everything in Miss Strangeworth’s little town looked washed and bright. Miss Strangeworth took deep breaths, and thought that there was nothing in the world like a fragrant summer day.’’
The Possibility of Evil: A seemingly respectable elderly lady wants to drive ‘’evil’’ way from her small community. However, the only source of evil in the town is her. And lies have short legs, as we say in Greece.
Louisa, Please Come Home: Fed up with her posh and fake family, a young woman flees to a new life full of possibilities. But what happens when she returns three years later? This story is astonishing. Dark and sad and haunting.
Paranoia: A man tries to return home after a day’s hard work but it seems that the entire New York population is persecuting him, waiting for him, hiding in every corner of the city. This is a story that will leave you breathless and utterly creeped out.
The Honeymoon of Mrs Smith: The hasty marriage of a young woman brings concern among the citizens of her town. But do they have any reason to fear for her safety?
‘’This is the story that Y and I used to tell, used to tell in the quiet of the night, in the hours of the quiet of the night, and the moonlight would come, moving forward, moving close; used to whisper to each other in the night…
And I, Y would say, had to go first. With the moonlight making white patterns in her hair, she would shake her head and say: I had to go first. Remember, she would say. In this very house. That night. Remember? And the picture, and the moonlight, and the way we laughed.’’
The Story We Used to Tell: A proper horror story in which the haunted and the haunting become on. Who are the ghosts and who are the mortals? What happens when a house won’t let you go? A tale of the old and the new, of trapped souls and despair.
The Sorcerer’s Apprentice: A frustrated teacher is visited by a strange child. A frightening story that leaves every possible question open for us to decide.
‘’The man hesitated on the corner under the traffic light, then started off down the side street, walking slowly and watching the few people who passed him. It was long past midnight, and the streets were as nearly deserted as they ever get; as the man went down the dark street he stopped for a minute, thinking he saw a dead girl on the sidewalk.’’
Jack the Ripper: Beware of men who offer to help you in the middle of the night…
The Beautiful Stranger: A hypnotic, hallucinatory metaphor of a young woman oppressed by family duties and boredom, desperate to escape the vision of the Smiling Wife of the post-war, ‘’perfect’’ American society.
All She Said Was Yes: A girl’s parents die in a strange accident and a friendly neighbour decides to look after her for a while. But Vickie is blessed – or cursed – with a special ability…A mysterious story that will make your blood turn cold all the way to the final page.
‘’She flipped the pages of her book idly; it was not interesting. She knew that if she asked her husband to take her to a movie, or out for a ride, or to play gin rummy, he would smile at her and agree; he was always willing to do things to please her, still, after ten years of marriage. An odd thought crossed her mind: she would pick up the heavy glass ashtray and smash her husband over the head with it.’’
What a Thought: What darkness lies inside us when thoughts of homicide strike us out of the blue?
The Bus: A commute goes horribly wrong for an elderly lady who finds herself starring in a nightmarish ‘’film’’ of her life in the house of her childhood.
Family Treasures: A bereaved young woman starts stealing mementoes from her fellow students. As her crime culminates, secrets come to the surface and every sense of privacy disappears.
‘’Here lies Margaret, who died for love.’’
The Visit (for Dylan Thomas): Margaret visits her friend and is attracted to the beautiful house and its surroundings, not to mention Carla’s most welcoming family. But the house hides secrets in its lavish tapestries and the tower of the estate is occupied by a mysterious aunt. Think of this story as a haunting combination of The Turn of the Screw and Rebecca.
The Good Wife: This story is the striking, shocking twin of The Yellow Room, written in perfection by the Queen of psychological horror.
‘’Wearily, moving his feet because he had nothing else to do, Christopher went on down the road, hating the trees that moved slowly against his progress, hating the dust beneath his feet, hating the sky, hating this road, all roads, everywhere.’’
The Man in the Woods: A wandering young man finds refuge in a house built in the heart of the woods. A story that reads like a dark Grimm tale, with strong elements of Folk Horror.
Home: In one of the most well-known stories by Jackson, an affluent couple moves to a manor in the countryside. But the road leading to their new property is treacherous, especially on rainy nights…
The Summer People: Why can’t the Allisons stay in their country cottage after Labour Day?
Darkness can be found in dysfunctional families, thwarted dreams and expectations, mundane reality. Darkness can be found within us all…Shirley Jackson’s stories are not to be missed.