Mortal Echoes: Encounters With the End

Title: Mortal Echoes: Encounters with the End

Writer: Various, edited by Greg Buzwell

Publishing House: British Library Publishing

Date of Publication: August 1st 2019

Rating: 5 stars

” ‘ You’re not really dying, are you?’ ” asked Amanda.

” ‘I have the doctor’s permission to live till Tuesday,” said Laura. ”

Strange Even in the Life of Schalken the Painter (Joseph Thomas Sheridan Le Fanu): An innocent, virginal young woman falls victim to a highly controversial suitor and a vision that prophesies her demise.

The Masque of the Red Death (Edgar Allan Poe): In one of the most atmospheric and eerie stories by the great master of the art, a group of revellers continue their debauchery in Prospero’s castle, confident that they will avoid the plague that massacres the rest of the population. But their ”quarantine” will not protect them from the one thing that never discriminates.

Rappaccini’s Daughter ( Nathaniel Hawthorne): Beauty and toxicity sometimes walk hand-in-hand…

The Signal – Man (Charles Dickens): One of the finest stories by Dickens, a gem that graces every Christmas Gothic collection. A recluse man meets a signalman who is afraid of an imminent tragedy, warned by the appearance of a spectre.

An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge (Ambrose Bierce): Set during the American Civil War, this is a haunting chronicle of an execution.

The King Is Dead, Long Live the King (Mary Elizabeth Coleridge): A king has died. His spirit decides to travel to the world of his mortal subjects and revel in their good opinions of him. He will be frightfully disappointed…

Under the Knife (Herbert George Wells): A woman is convinced that she will die soon and will return as an otter. It does sound funny, doesn’t it? Well, never trust a Gothic story until you reach the end…

Where Their Fire Is Not Quenched (May Sinclair): A woman who sleeps with everything that moves dies and finds herself trapped in an eternity with her most repulsive suitor.

Priorities, girl. Priorities…

Kecksies (Marjorie Bowen): Two insolent, spoiled, stinking rich young men decide to play a vile trick on a dead man. Well, the joke is on them. And it proves to be lethal.

A Little Place Off the Edgware Road (Graham Greene): What do you do when you discover that you have met a murderer?

Your Tiny Hand Is Frozen (Robert Aickman): A young man is disturbed by increasingly eerie phone calls. And then he falls in love…

Kiss Me Again, Stranger (Daphne du Maurier): In my favourite story in the collection, a man falls in love with a mysterious girl that is too reluctant to talk about her past or her present. As he begins to contemplate a common future, the revelation will strike hard. And just when you thought that you had the ending figured out, du Maurier’s genius shows how wrong you were. Dark and shocking and perfect!

The School (Donald Barthelme): An actual tragedy? An imaginative lecture? Who can say for certain?

Death by Scrabble (Charlie Fish): Let’s face it: Scrabble can be truly frustrating when you find yourself on the losing side. In this delightfully dark story, a husband discovers he may possibly manipulate the future.

Yes, but beware what you wish, mate…

This collection is like the finest chocolate. Dark and luscious, powerful and unforgettable.

And harmless.