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Ancestral Shadows: An Anthology of Ghostly Tales

4.47  ·  Rating details ·  89 Ratings  ·  15 Reviews
Ancestral Shadows collects nineteen of Russell Kirk's best ghostly tales from periodicals and anthologies published throughout his life. In the tradition of Defoe, Stevenson, Hawthorne, Coleridge, Poe, and other master writers, these frightful stories conjure the creaks and shadows of the very places where they came to life: haunted St. Andrews, the Isle of Eigg, Kellie Ca ...more
Hardcover, 410 pages
Published April 1st 2004 by ISI Distributed Titles
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Ancestral Shadows by Russell Kirk are some of the most amazing short stories I've ever read. They are also not for the faint of heart, because they task both your vocabulary and imagination. I took my time reading them the first time (in 2011) and here I am on my second go-round ... savoring them again. Some stories are frightening, others crazily eerie, some thought-provoking, some puzzling, a couple I don't think I understood at all—even this time—although I know I did better. I would love to ...more
Jul 31, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Ghost story/ supernatural fiction fans
Kirk was, as the above description notes, a major thinker in the 20th-century American conservative movement; but there are significant differences within that movement --and these are significant for an understanding of his fiction, too, since his view of the world profoundly shaped what he set out to say in all of his novels and stories. He was what is variously called a paleo-, traditional or classical conservative: one who isn't enamored of internationalism and "globalism," who doesn't view ...more
Jen B
Mar 26, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This is a genuinely delightful collection of tales of, as Kirk put it, the 'uncanny'—episodes of the worlds beyond the veil breaking or stepping through to our own, for both good and ill. They're beautifully, engrossingly written, as one expects from Kirk; thus it is with wonderful ease that the reader can slip into the worlds and lives woven for us. Here we read of spirits both vengeful and heroic, yet in each case things are so much deeper. Of course, these are so much more than mere ghost sto ...more
Karen L.
Mar 09, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: gothic tale lovers
Recommended to Karen L. by: an old friend
Last night my husband read "Lex Talionis," aloud to myself and our kids. Now finding a story we could all agree on, with 2 teens and a preteen, was tricky, but we did it. Russel Kirk is an artist with words. He paints images of dark scenes, that remind me of stories I listened to long ago on the old "Radio Mystery Theater." The stories from "Ancestral Shadows" are ghostly tales, yet they have a Christian morality. He calls his own tales, "experiments in the moral imagination." My husband and I e ...more
May 31, 2008 rated it it was amazing
These 19 short stories written over 25 years of Russell Kirk's life are remniscient of some of the best gothic and ghost stories of the turn-of-the-century. At times I found I had to remind myself that many of these stories were written in the mid-1900s, and not in the late-1800s. His stories cover the supernatural ("preternatural" as Kirk described his own ghost stories) and the occult, mixed with a dash of theology, a toss of history, and a wallop of politics. These are probably some of the be ...more
May 14, 2008 rated it really liked it
Read this book for a college class - loved it. Dark, yet spiritual.
Deborah Schuff
Sep 22, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
Russell Kirk is a well-known political conservative who wrote many books and columns on the subject. Much less well-known are his ghost stories, the best of which are collected in this volume. As Vigen Gurion so eloquently put it in his introduction, "...Kirk's rich imaginative mind vividly casts the drama of the soul's struggle with good and evil in relation to a transcendent realm of meaning and purpose. ....[He] infuses into his stories his most deeply held religious, moral, and political con ...more
Apr 17, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: half-finished
I'm not ussually into ghost stories. I got this after it was recommended at The Hational Review Online around halloween. Russell Kirk was (apparently) a famous conservative writer and a contributor to National review. The first few stories are great! Creepy, fun, and the villians tend to be central planners and other such intrusive-government beurocrat busibodies. Fun stuff. I read a story at bedtime about once a week.
Kevin Lucia
Aug 09, 2011 rated it really liked it
Kinda hate to do this, because Kirk is a good writer and story-teller, so I'll probably come back to this at a later date and finish it off. Problem is, they're all ghost stories, mildly varied, one right after the I'm burning out on it, a little. Definitely worth the read, though, as I'll probably come back at another time and finish it.
Sam Torode
Jun 05, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I was honored to be able to create the cover art and design for "Ancestral Shadows." It was a dream for several years before the publisher went ahead with the book. Great to see so many readers enjoying Russell Kirk's ghostly tales!
John Considine
Dec 01, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: ghost-stories
Terrific book which is even more scary if you know some Catholic understanding of death and afterlife. The stories really make you thnk.
Oct 03, 2011 rated it really liked it
This author is known more for his non-fiction writings, but I really enjoyed these strange tales.
Nov 01, 2014 rated it it was amazing
The creepiest ghost stories I have ever read.
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For more than forty years, Russell Kirk was in the thick of the intellectual controversies of his time. He is the author of some thirty-two books, hundreds of periodical essays, and many short stories. Both Time and Newsweek have described him as one of America’s leading thinkers, and The New York Times acknowledged the scale of his influence when in 1998 it wrote that Kirk’s 1953 book The Conserv ...more
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“To the modern politician and planner, men are the flies of a summer, oblivious of their past, reckless of their future.” 0 likes
“Some months later, the Van Tassel children invited classmates home to play with their new doll. This was in the dead of winter. When the guests arrived, they did indeed find the Van Tassel children sliding down hill with a new doll. But that new doll was a human baby, the youngest Van Tassel, dead and frozen stiff. The baby had died the previous week, and had been stored in the woodshed for burial when the frost was out of the ground; the other children had asked if diey might have Susan for a doll, and Mrs. Van Tassel had not demurred.” 0 likes
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