Title: Chill Tidings
Writer: Various, edited by Tanya Kirk
Publishing House: British Library Publishing
Date of Publication: October 16th 2020
Rating: 5 stars
‘’At the edge of the dark sky, sprinkled with stars, a faint band of cold light heralded the rising moon. How different from the grey light of dawn, that ushers in the cheerful day, is the solemn rising of the moon in the depth of a winter night.’’
A Strange Christmas Game (Charlotte Riddell): Two siblings inherit a formidable estate and a ghost desperate for vengeance…
The Old Portrait (Hume Nisbet): Wonderfully atmospheric story. If portraits make you feel uncomfortable, this tale will justify your fear.
The Real and the Counterfeit (Louisa Baldwin): A practical joke goes horribly wrong in an estate haunted by the spirit of a Cistercian monk.
Old Applejoy’s Ghost (Frank R. Stockton): In this delightful story an ancestor’s ghost, heavily disappointed by the negligence of his descendant, takes it upon himself to restore Christmas in his estate in all its glory and a brilliant young woman becomes his invaluable assistant.
Transition (Algernon Blackwood): A man returns home, his arms bursting with Christmas presents for his beloved family. But things are not quite as expected… An astonishing story.
‘Do you know’, he said, ‘ that this room is just like a scene on the stage. Try and imagine that wall over there – the fourth wall I think it’s called – has been taken down. On the floor is a row of footlights. Beyond it’s all dark, and there is row after row of blurred faces.’
The Fourth Wall (A. M. Burrage): A jubilant company of young intellectuals decide to spend Christmas in a lovely cottage. However, they soon feel as if they are acting a part in front of an audience and a strange smell of smoke returns evening after evening. A brilliant, atmospheric story.
The Festival (H. P. Lovecraft): A man of controversial heritage returns to New England and attends a dark ritual. This story is as creepy and as Gothic as it gets.
‘’Martha Pym said that she had never seen a ghost and that she would very much like to do so, particularly at Christmas for you can laugh as you like, that is the correct time to see a ghost.’’
The Crown Derby Plate (Marjorie Bowen): You desperately want a Crown Derby plate that is missing from your set. You venture the moor in awful weather to meet the lady that holds your coveted treasure. A reclusive lady, strange, hostile even…
My God, what an incredible story! The atmosphere, the dialogue, the twists, the classic British aura! Marvellous!
Green Holly (Elizabeth Bowen): What if a ghost only returned out of loneliness and the deep wish to be loved? A classic Irish story by Bowen.
Christmas Re-Union (Andrew Caldecott): A Christmas cracker reveals the sins of the past in a story inspired by the work of M.R.James.
A Christmas Meeting (Rosemary Timperley): The haunted and the haunting find each other in a mesmerizing Christmas meeting.
‘There’s someone coming down in the lift, Mummy!’
‘No, my darling, you’re wrong, there isn’t.’
‘But I can see him through the bars – a tall gentleman.’
‘You think you can, but it’s only a shadow. Now, you’ll see, the lift’s empty.’
And it always was.’
Someone In The Lift (L.P.Hartley): I don’t know about you but lifts scare me to death, especially those old ones that make an awful, squeaky, screamy noise. This story makes excellent use of omens, premonitions and the theme of the Doppelganger, producing a striking result. Shocking and unforgettable.
Told After Supper (Jerome K.Jerome): A novelette that satirizes the tropes of the British Ghost story. I can’t say I appreciated this one, sorry.
P.S. Spending 2022 anxiously waiting for the next volume of Christmas Ghost stories by British Library.
‘’There was no pretence at flower-beds nor any manner of cultivation in this garden where a few rank weeds and straggling bushes matted together above the dead grass; on the enclosing wall, which appeared to have been built high as protection against the ceaseless winds that swung along the flats, where the remains of fruit trees; their crucified branches, rotting under the great nails that held them up, looked like the skeletons of those who had died in torment.’’