Bill Kerwin's Reviews > Madam Crowl's Ghost and Other Tales of Mystery

Madam Crowl's Ghost and Other Tales of Mystery by J. Sheridan Le Fanu
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's review
Aug 19, 2016

really liked it
bookshelves: weird-fiction, gothic, 19th-c-brit, ghost-stories, short-stories
Read from July 24 to September 10, 2011

This is a good posthumous anthology of ghost stories, chosen by no less an authority than M.R. James himself. They were selected primarily from Le Fanu's early "Dublin Magazine" period, when his stories--like those of many of the authors published there by editor Le Fanu--were characterized by a leisurely, folkloric narrative style and the often humorous exploitation of Irish stereotypes.

This anthology is slightly inferior to In a Glass Darkly, the collection of later stories Le Fanu published during his lifetime, but the entire book is nevertheless enjoyable and contains two stories ("Madame Crowl's Ghost" and "Squire Toby's Will") that are masterpieces of the form. A few others are memorable as well, particularly the three short tales in "Ghosts of Chapelizod" and the sophisticated use of Irish folklore demonstrated in "The Child Who Went With the Fairies" and "The White Cat of Drumgunniol."

Even in his most inferior stories--which are still very good--Le Fanu shows a talent for choosing the unsettling detail which can produce a genuine thrill.
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02/13/2016 marked as: read

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