Sunless Solstice: Strange Christmas Tales for the Longest Nights

58366805. sx318

Title: Sunless Solstice: Strange Christmas Tales for the Longest Nights

Writer: Various (edited by Lucy Evans and Tanya Kirk)

Publishing House: British Library Publishing

Date of Publication:  October 21st 2021

Rating: 5 stars

‘’Like any other boy I expected ghost stories at Christmas, that was the time for them. What I had not expected, and now feared, was that such things should actually become real.’’

From 1893 to 1974, twelve tales of darkness and mystery, the eerie silence of the falling snow, the haunting moonlight, the Christmas festivities that conceal the darkness in our souls. Lucy Evans and Tanya Kirk have created a superb collection for the long wintry nights.

The Ghost at the Cross-Roads (An Irish Christmas Night Story) – Frederick Manley: Let us wonder in the moor on a winter’s night to witness a game of cards between a young man and a black-clad stranger…

The Blue Room ( Lettice Galbraith): A room haunted by a spectre that harms young women and a story that ends on a rather innovative note. Excellent!

On the Northern Ice (Elia Wilkinson Peattie): The story of a man saved by a spirit while skating to a wedding. A tale of the Northern Ice and of Love, guaranteed to make you cry…

The Black Cat (W.J. Wintle): A terrifying story of a prosperous man with an inexplicable dread of cats, a ghostly feline and the number 24. Brilliantly chilling!

‘’London seems dead to lots of people when the shops are shut, and the theatres are closed. It doesn’t get me like that. It seems alive to me.’’

Ganthony’s Wife (E.Temple Thurston): A man of the world narrates an eerie encounter between him and a strange woman on Christmas Day. A striking tale that takes us to Sri Lanka and London, an unsettling story of ghosts. Or witches…

Mr Huffam (Hugh Walpole): The story of the ghost of a famous writer that brings joy and happiness. I am sorry but I wasn’t too enthusiastic about this tale…

The Man Who Came Back (Margery Lawrence): A Christmas seance goes horribly wrong when a spirit returns to avenge a frightening injustice. Very atmospheric, extremely tense. Perfection.

The Third Shadow (H.Russell Wakefield): A terrible vengeance, the dangers that lurk on a mountain and the haunting quiet of the falling snow…

‘’He went on staring at the apple tree. That martyred bent position, the stooping top, the weary branches, the few withered leaves that had not been blown away with the wind and rain of the past winter and now shivered in the spring breeze like wispy hair; all of it protested soundlessly to the owner of the garden looking upon it, ‘I am like this because of you, because of your neglect.’’

The Apple Tree (Dame Daphne du Maurier): A husband is at a loss following the death of his wife. Should he celebrate or mourn? Who is the villain? Who is the victim? There is such deep sadness in this story, such ambiguity, such sorrow…

The Leaf-Sweeper (Muriel Spark): A strange tale of hallucinations, sworn enemies of Christmas and comeuppance. Splendid and downright weird.

The Visiting Star (Robert Aickman): An atmospheric story of an alluring actress, the spirits of the night and the elusive world of Theatre.

A Fall of Snow (James Tuner): An eerie story of Christmas frivolity, prophetic visions and blood on the snow…

‘’How do you like your weird Christmas tales? Is gathering round the fire with delicious food in a country house a key component? Or do you require nothing more than snow and ice and chilling encounters? As a character in one of our features stories says? ‘Oh dear, here’s Christmas again. Isn’t it awful! I’m going to bed. I shall sleep, and I hope dream, until this dreadful thing is over.’