Ghost Gleams: Tales Of The Uncanny is a collection of short stories by William J. Wintle which was published by Heath Cranton in 1921. Born in 1861, WGhost Gleams: Tales Of The Uncanny is a collection of short stories by William J. Wintle which was published by Heath Cranton in 1921. Born in 1861, Wintle distinguished himself as a versatile writer before becoming an Oblate for the Abbey of Caldey Island near Whales. It was there that he wrote these tales, specifically for the enjoyment of eight boys who attended there. In the forward of this collection, Wintle notes that the stories were originally told on Sunday nights while "crouching over a wood fire on a wind-swept island off the Western shore."
Wintle stories here are filled with secret passageways, cursed objects, disembodied voices and supernatural mysteries of all sorts. Some of them have a similarity to them but there are some stand outs too, such as "Red Rosary", "The Chamber of Doom", "The Black Cat", "The Horror of Horton House", and my personal favorite, "The Ghost of the Blue Dragon".
- "Red Rosary" - A man, who collects artifacts used in religious practices of uncivilized cultures, obtains a rare one called the Red Rosary. It's like a Catholic rosary but made out of rough jewels, one of which is shaped like a snake's head. It has a history of bringing bad fortune to anyone who possesses it and seems to move on its own.
- "When the Twilight Fell" - A man staying at a friend's Grange witnesses several spectral encounters, including candle flames that turn blue, an old book which moves on its own, and even the ghostly face of Henry VIII looking in through a window.
- "House on the Cliff" - A man asks to use a friend's remote cabin atop a cliff overlooking the water. The friend agrees but warns him that the house is haunted and that he plans to pull it down. During his stay the friend catches glimpses of a shadowy presence that stays just out of view and hears muted laughter. He also notices what appears to be the footprints of an enormous bird.
- "The Ghost at the Blue Dragon" - A man realizes he's acquired a malicious doppleganger after staying at The Blue Dragon. This evil double of his begins by damaging his reputation, but later its attacks become more deadly. This is one of the few great stories featuring this type of creature. Highly recommended!
- "The Spectre Spiders" - An unscrupulous money lender begins to see shadowy spiders darting around inside his house but can never get a clear view of them. As time goes on, they grow in size, number and solidity.
- "When Time Stood Still" - After finding a remote area by a hidden cave entrance, a man begins going there daily to read. The place fills him with an odd sense of antiquity as he begins to see Prehistoric beasts traveling through the nearby forest.
- "The Chamber of Doom" - A young Earl takes charge of the family castle, deciding to ignore the belief that the secret chamber hidden behind a wall in the gallery brings doom upon those who open it. Opening the wall releases something evil. This story (similar to Joseph Payne Brennan's "The Horror at Chilton Castle") seems to borrow heavily from the ancient legends attached to real life Glamis Castle.
- "The Black Cat" - A man with an innate fear of cats begins to see one everywhere, as a heap of earth and a moving shadow. It appears to be stalking him during the Christmas season.
- "Father Thornton's Visitor" - A priest sees a strange shadow in the garden of his parsonage when looking out his window at night by the moonlight. Eventually, the shadow forms into a man who walks through solid doors and fades away when encountered.
- "The Footsteps on the Stairs" - An unscrupulous merchant begins to notice a mysterious figure lurking around his place of business. He also hears its footsteps only to find no one there. He worries about the attention these distractions might bring from the authorities.
- "The Horror of Horton House" - A lord of Horton House is curious about a grim poem etched above a mantle in a dining room that contains a mysterious secret passageway that leads nowhere. He sees red eyes staring at him from inside the passage, and a fiery, six-fingered hand reaches out from it to grab him.
- "The Haunted House on the Hill" - A man moves into a house on a hill occupied by a friend and his servants. They all experience unexplainable things, such as an old woman wearing outdated clothes who vanishes at will, disembodied voices and footsteps, etc. They eventually piece together the reason why the place's spectral occupants still walk its halls.
- "The Voice in the Night" - Children and livestock are stalked by a mysterious wolf in a small town, but a girl who survives its attack swears it was an old woman who tried to bite her instead of a wolf.
- "The Light in the Dormitory" - When an old building in a monastery is put to use as a dormitory following years of disuse, the ghostly figure of a monk is seen walking it with a light shaped like a cross floating above it.
- "The Watcher in the Mill" - After inheriting a house, a no-nonsense man keeps seeing signs someone's been staying in a room in the abandoned mill on his property. He tries to find out who it is, and failing that, works to secure it against entry. The malicious entity inhabiting the mill seems to enjoy toying with the mill's new owner.
Ramsey Campbell is my favorite writer. His are the first stories I read in any anthology in which he's featured, and I've consumed more of his novelsRamsey Campbell is my favorite writer. His are the first stories I read in any anthology in which he's featured, and I've consumed more of his novels than any other writer. His collection of stories, ALONE WITH THE HORRORS, would be my "trapped on a deserted island" book choice for entertainment (in case being alone on an eerie, silent island at night wouldn't be unnerving enough). Holes For Faces is another great collection of supernatural horror by a grandmaster of the genre.
1."Passing Through Peacehaven" (2011) - A man on his way home finds himself in a strange subway station listening to the cryptic, barely audible messages over the intercom. This is a nice atmospheric piece of creeping dread.
2. "Peep" (2007) - A grandfather struggles to watch his unruly twin grandkids when his daughter and son-in-law come to visit. Reminders of the elderly aunt he was afraid of as a child are never far from his mind as he starts seeing signs she may now be stalking him from beyond the grave.
3. Getting It Wrong" (2011) - An unpopular man named Edgeworth employed at a movie theater begins receiving calls from an attractive coworker at night asking him for answers to trivia questions about old movies. The male host of the show sounds vaguely threatening as he interacts with Edgeworth, who thinking it's a prank, purposely answers the question wrong. The tension mounts as this eerie story advances towards its chilling conclusion.
4. "The Room Beyond" (2011) - Returning to his hometown for a funeral, a man reminisces about his childhood spent with his aunt and uncle. An eerie pall hangs over the hotel where he's staying, a place he and his beloved relatives used to dine. Murmuring and other ominous sounds begin to be heard from the adjoined room next door. The atmosphere of this story is heavy with eerie ambience and somber loneliness.
5. "Holes For Faces" (2013) - On vacation with his parents, a boy is deeply disturbed upon seeing the headless, skeletal remains in the walls of Italy's catacombs. He then starts catching glimpses of an obscured face following him as they continue through the tunnels.
6. "The Rounds" (2010) - A man repeatedly sees people attempting to leave a mysterious bag unattended on an underground train.
7. “The Decorations” (2005) – A boy, visiting his grandparent’s house with his parents for the holidays, is disturbed by his grandmother’s obsession with the plastic, lighted Santa on their roof. She believes something malicious she calls "the worms" inhabits it. This is a great tale of Christmas horror with a fantastic ending!
8. "The Address" (2011) - An elderly man, venturing out on his own, can't seem to find his way out from the forested area he's traveling through to reach his train. During his search, he happens upon a strange old school.
9. "Recently Used" (2010) - A man receives a phone call from a hospital telling him he should hurry there because his wife is there and has been badly hurt. His trek through the strange hospital is surrealistic and filled with oddities. The final reveal causes you to reassess what you've read.
10. "Chucky Comes To Liverpool" (2008) - A boy becomes obsessed with Chucky from the horror movies despite his domineering mother's activism against such films. He begins to think Chucky is influencing him and his friend for dire purposes.
11. "With The Angels" (2008)- A woman returns to the house where she she grew up, remembering how much her grandmother disliked and mistreated her. She also remembers her grandfather tossing her lovingly into the air while telling her an angel might catch her if she's good enough. She wonders what would catch her if she wasn't good enough as she catches glimpses of dark things around her. This is another eerie, atmospheric tale.
12. "Behind the Doors" (2010) - A grandfather becomes concerned after his grandson's math teacher gives the boy an Advent Calendar in the days leading to Christmas Day. The teacher is the same man who taught and tormented the grandfather forty years previous. Festering with hate spurred by his memories of the teacher, he starts trying to figure out what the teacher's end goal might be and how to stop it.
13. "Holding the Light" (2011) - Tom's handicapped cousin Lucas suggests exploring a section of old irrigation tunnels rumored to be haunted at Halloween. He reluctantly agrees rather than watch the "kid movie" Lucas wants to see at the theater, but it seems something else lurks in the darkened underground passageway.
14. "The Long Way" (2008) - This novelette focuses on a boy who walks to his wheelchair-bound uncle's retirement village every Saturday to help him buy groceries. The route takes him past a section of housing that has been vacated due to its proximity to a wooded area frequented by criminals. Through the doorway of one of those abandoned houses, the boy notices an obscured figure that appears to be leaning on sticks. There’s something unnatural about the way it moves incrementally closer to the open doorway each time he passes. Like with everything Campbell writes, the atmosphere is charged with potential menace. This is another tale of subtly-increasing supernatural menace. ...more
Marianne Halbert's collection of stories, Wake Up and Smell the Creepy, contains nine stories ranging from horror to sci-fi to crime. What stands outMarianne Halbert's collection of stories, Wake Up and Smell the Creepy, contains nine stories ranging from horror to sci-fi to crime. What stands out in each is how well-developed the characters are, a difficult task in the constraint of short stories. My personal favorites were "Invisible Fences", "The House of Abandoned Characters" and "A Used Infinity".
"Invisible Fences" - A self-employed fence builder makes a startling discovery inside a house where he's working. This is a powerful story of loss and despair.
"The House of Abandoned Characters" - This tale takes us to the realm literary characters go after being cut from a story. It creates a neat universe that would be fun to visit again. This would make a great Twilight Zone episode.
"The Bellwether Effect" - A doctor interviews a man who claims to be from another time.
"Beyond a Shadow" - A skilled lawyer tries to prove his client's innocence. Nothing supernatural here, but it is a well-crafted courtroom drama with a twist ending.
"A Used Infinity" - The GPS of a man's newly-purchased car keeps directing him to a location for its own reasons in this eerie supernatural mystery.
"A Crowd Pleaser" - A former Nascar crewman attends the Brickyard 400 and meets a peculiar man who invites him up to his hospitality suite. Things take a dark turn once secrets are revealed.
"Seizure Sundays" - A disabled, homeless man and his brother struggle to survive on the streets.
"The Bane of Existence" - A man tells his psychiatrist he believes his mother is a werewolf.
"The Last Specter" - A ghost tries to solve the mystery of who is causing his fellow specters to disappear from their society. ...more
Wordsworth reprints several classic story collections by great horror writers of the past. One such collection, IN GHOSTLY COMPANY by Amyas Northcote,Wordsworth reprints several classic story collections by great horror writers of the past. One such collection, IN GHOSTLY COMPANY by Amyas Northcote, was suggested to me by Amazon due to some previous purchases. It mentioned him as similar to M.R. James, who is a favorite of mine. I received it for Christmas this year and read it straight through. The Introduction by David Stuart Davies that begins the book gives some background on Northcote. Not an easy task, I’m sure, due to the obscurity of this writer. Born in 1864, his father was Sir Stafford Northcote, lord of a manor and powerful politician. I found it interesting Amyas attended Eton College the same time as M.R. James, although it is unknown if the two ever met. This collection of ghost stories was his only published work. It came out in 1921. Unfortunately, Amyas died just eighteen months after its publication, making it difficult to promote and relegating him to obscurity. He might have been forgotten altogether if Montague Summers hadn’t included one of the stories, “Brickett Bottom”, in his influential SUPERNATURAL OMNIBUS (1931). It makes me wonder how many great writers have become lost to time because of similar circumstances. While I wouldn’t put Amyas Northcote on the same level as M.R. James, I did enjoy these stories. “Brickett Bottom”, “In the Woods”, “The Steps” and “The Governess’s Story” were personal favorites of mine.
1- “Brickett Bottom” (1921) – A vicar’s daughter spies a house on her way home she hadn’t noticed before. Her nearsighted sister is unable to see it. They plan to visit the following day, but the nearsighted sister injures her foot and can’t go. When the other goes alone, she fails to return.
2- “Mr. Kershaw and Mr. Wilcox” (1921) – A business arrangement between two neighbors sours, leading to dark consequences in this tale of subtle supernatural underpinnings with a twist ending.
3- “In the Woods” (1921) – A lonely 17 year old girl finds herself enthralled by the woods near her home. She spends her spare time there and begins to view the trees as her only friends. She yearns to learn their mysteries and begins to sense the area observing her. As she slips further from normal life to become more in tune with the woods, she starts to feel that although the woods have great beauty, it also hides powerful evil.
4- “The Late Earl of D.” (1921) – A solicitor witnesses a phantom reenactment of a violent crime.
5- “Mr. Mortimer’s Diary” (1921) – The diary of a man found dead under bizarre circumstances tells of his being haunted by a diabolical ghost.
6- “The House in the Woods” (1921) –Two men are forced to spend the night in a secluded house in the woods.
7- “The Steps” (1921) – A young woman is haunted by the approaching footsteps of a man whose love she spurned.
8- “The Young Lady in Black” (1921) – An artist is approached by a young woman in black who implores him to paint her portrait but is unable to sit for him longer than a half hour. He encounters her a few times afterwards, each under strange circumstances.
9- “The Downs” (1921) – A man traveling through downlands at night finds himself accompanied by a mysterious stranger.
10- “The Late Mrs. Fowke” (1921) – A man secretly follows his wife on one of her journeys out of town to find her partaking in occult activities.
11- “The Picture” (1921) – A girl becomes enthralled by the portrait of a dead Count in a manor house.
12- “The Governess’s Story” (1921) – A governess keeps hearing someone running and opening a window from a room above her every night. These unearthly footfalls are tied to a grim family secret.
13- “Mr. Oliver Carmichael” (1921) – A man enters a shop to buy a handkerchief and meets an unattractive, female clerk. When their eyes meet, he is filled with an inexplicable dread. From that point on, he is haunted by her and begins to feel evil growing in his soul as it is tormented each night as he sleeps. ...more