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Cold Hand in Mine: Strange Stories

4.01  ·  Rating details ·  2,559 ratings  ·  240 reviews
Cold Hand in Mine was first published in the UK in 1975 and in the US in 1977. The story Pages from a Young Girl's Journal won Aickman the World Fantasy Award in 1975. It was originally published in The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction in 1973 before appearing in this collection.

Cold Hand in Mine stands as one of Aickman's best collections and contains eight stories t
Hardcover, 215 pages
Published 1975 by Charles Scribner's Sons, New York (first published January 1st 1974)
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Bill Kerwin

Robert Aickman is the best modern writer of supernatural stories, as great as--perhaps greater than--the Master himself, M.R. James. Whereas the Master specialized in a few settings (the ancient English cathedral or university town, the rare book auction or library, the academic gentleman's holiday trip, etc.), Aickman is an expert at creating a wealth of distinct settings which he articulates with precision in order to elicit distinctive and disturbing atmospheres.

In this collection, for examp
mark monday
as far as my love for genre fiction goes, college did a number on me and for many years i scorned my old high school loves of fantasy, science fiction, and horror. silly me; i'm glad i came back to my senses. during college, only a couple authors escaped my new-found scorn - one of them being the amazing Robert Aickman. pre-college, i enjoyed his sinister tales of uncertain, indescribable menace. in college, i found to my surprise that Aickman was a literary horror writer, and both my snobby new ...more
Paul Christensen
Jan 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing
The Swords (3 stars)
Although the worst story in this collection, creates a vivid atmosphere.

The Real Road to the Church (3 stars)
Atmospheric, but ending is heavy-handed.

Niemandswasser (5 stars)
Haunting and utterly brilliant, one of Aickman’s finest stories.

Pages From a Young Girl’s Journal (4 stars)
Pastiche of early 1800s gothic fiction, well written and slyly humorous.

The Hospice (4 stars)
Surreal and grotesque portrait of a dead soul in purgatory.

The Same Dog (5 stars)
Haunting meditation on Ti
Sam Quixote
Good gravy, where do I start? So it’s taken me, on and off, nearly three months to get through this relatively ordinary-sized short story collection - and that ain’t a good sign! Of the eight stories here, one is really good and one is half decent - the others? Holy guacamoleshit - you need the patience of a fucking saint to get through those!

The Hospice is the really good story. A traveller is stranded in the middle of nowhere, stumbles across a strange inn, and stays the night there - except
Nandakishore Mridula
Robert Aickman writes seriously weird fiction. You enter his stories expecting it to take you somewhere frightening. They do, but it is not the familiar, comfortable frights that you meet - the map goes weird in the middle, and you are left stranded in a landscape designed by Kafka and M. R. James as a sort of joint venture.

The story which impressed me most, "The Hospice", is a perfect metaphor for Aickman's tales. A travelling salesman, taking a shortcut, lands up in an unfamiliar location. Tak
Robert Aickman's term for his stories is "strange," and indeed they are, but I tend to think of them as "disquieting." His fiction takes me places that are not merely macabre or frightening; I find myself as adrift as his characters, not quite sure what is real. Much is left to my own imagination, and the most disquieting part is how I choose to fill in the gaps.

I am a great fan of weird and unsettling fiction. Things that don't fall into neat categories please me. And Aickman's ability to rend
Jun 25, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The review by Mark Monday does a nice job of capturing the dual flavor of Aickman's short stories, configured as they are so that the bizarre, eerie and discomfiting events that transpire within—ofttimes to a superficially normal middle-aged bloke whose average, workaday life comes to be seen as bearing its own (submerged) peculiarities, debilitations, and tensions—can be viewed through the lens of either supernatural visitation or psychological implosion, and may be interpreted as a grotesque t ...more
Nov 30, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: short-stories, horror
I've been looking forward to reading something by Aickman for quite a while now. From what I had heard about his writing it seemed that his style of weird horror was just the kind of thing I'm looking for now. My anticipation and expectations having built up so high, I almost expected to be disappointed. I wasn't.

Each and every story in this collection was powerful, interesting and strange. "The Hospice" was a quintessential example of a weird tale as I've ever read. "The Same Dog" probably one
Robert Aickman defined his own work as as 'strange stories', avoiding terms relating to ghosts, horror or the supernatural because his fiction tends to be rooted in reality, with the exact source of the 'strangeness' often remaining ambiguous. They are frequently unnerving but rarely provide the reader with a clear resolution, which only serves to increase the effect.

This collection sets out its stall with the opening story, The Swords, which to me felt like a bit of a test; I can imagine a lot
Dec 21, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: short-stories
I feel a little dishonest giving this 4 stars because I frequently felt a bit bored reading it and had to make myself go on. However, almost all the stories were genuinely creepy and I was impressed by how different they were from one another. "Pages from a Young Lady's Journal" was my favorite. ...more
May 13, 2012 rated it it was amazing
"In the end, it is the mystery that lasts, not the explanation."

SO reads the quote that begins this anthology of tales by Robert Aickman. Although I didn't find all of the stories here to be equally engrossing, the impact this book had upon me was enormous. I can read a good horror tale, or watch a gripping horror movie, many times over, but the genre is usually quite visceral in nature, and usually the greatest impact comes with that initial experience. Subsequent visitations can still be power
Nate D
Nov 04, 2011 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: traveling salesmen
Recommended to Nate D by: shifty boardinghouses
Robert Aickman writes exceptionally British horror stories. I read many many Brits who don't strike me with their Britishness, in particular, but Aickman's just so urbane and mannered about how he puts his tales forth (okay, so I'm obviously operating on a stereotype of Britishness, rather than the wider-ranging actuality provided by those other authors). This occasionally offers a perfect or even hysterically understated turn of phrase, othertimes it just makes them drag on. All of the stories ...more
2.5/5. I think the fact that it took me nearly two months to finish this speaks for itself. There's an intriguing element to all of his stories, but it's never enough to keep me interested when everything else about his writing is pretty dull. Aickman's writing feels quite distanced from his characters and he's not always able to create a tangible atmosphere in his descriptions. I like stories that navigate the unexplained or the weird and leave lots of things open for interpretation, but I need ...more
May 03, 2016 rated it really liked it
The Little Free Library in my neighborhood had, to my surprise, two books by Robert Aickman: Painted Devils and Cold Hand in Mine .

I would describe Robert Aickman's short fiction as uncanny--strange or mysterious in an unsettling way. Lines from his story "The Real Road to the Church", which is in this volume, seem to describe well his fiction:

" Daily life is entirely a matter of the pattern men and women impose upon it: of style, as the artist calls it
It's curious how in a few of these stories Aickman maintains such a taut level of suspense paired with impeccable pacing, while in others he drones on and on, drowning the reader in an abundance of dry detail, thus diluting the fog of unease that makes the former stories so strong. The longer stories in particular bottom out with weak narrative force and little of interest to distract from how slow the pacing has become. I did appreciate Aickman's humor, dry and restrained as it is, though even ...more
Mike (the Paladin)
Feb 22, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: horror
I owned this book back in the "olden days" (back in the 70s). I wasn't real taken with Aickman (as evidenced by the fact that I'd forgotten a book I once owned). I got this from the library, and it came back to me.

I would hesitate to call these "horror" stories. I might call them macabre stories, despairing stories, even dark stories. They carry in them a sense of despondency and deep melancholy. The first story, The Swords sets an odd tone for the set while the closest to what I suppose would b
The Literary Chick
Jul 29, 2013 rated it it was amazing
The ultimate in dense, elegant, gothic, eerie horror. Not meant to be read quickly.
Tristram Shandy
“‘We are most of us two people, your Highness. There is something lacking in the man who is one man only, and so, as he believes, at peace with the world and with himself.’”

These words, addressed to a German nobleman by the aptly-named village teacher Spalt, seem to be utterly at variance with most of the protagonists we get in Robert Aickman’s collection of short stories Cold Hand in Mine, for these are mostly bigoted pedants, pandering to, and bowing before the conventions of middle-class life
Apr 05, 2011 rated it really liked it
If you'd never heard of Aickman, or had built no notion of what to expect from him, then all you'd need to do was read the epigraph for this collection. "In the end it is the mystery that lasts and not the explanation." That pretty much sums him up. For some people, this just isn't good enough. Some people don't view reading as anything other than another form of TV - to sit idle, to do nothing, and to receive entertainment as good as the creator can come up with. Aickman doesn't just not do thi ...more
Carol Storm
Nov 13, 2013 rated it liked it
Robert Aickman is a talented writer who creates a whole lot of chilling atmosphere and then . . . nothing happens. There's something very English about this approach. People say H.P. Lovecraft left too much unrevealed, but after reading this collection I disagree. Lovecraft wrote about his terrors in lurid detail; Aickman barely hints at his.

THE SWORDS -- this story is creepy, but not scary creepy. More like perverted creepy. A young man goes to some sort of weird Peep Show and sees men doing t
Feb 23, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: horror, favorites
I consume literature like some people consume junk food. So many books, so little time. However, I took about six months reading these eight stories by Robert Aickman. These deeply melancholy tales deserve to be read slowly, carefully. The prose is impeccable. Each strange story is told with a clarity and simplicity that made me feel as if I wasn't reading fiction as much as witnessing an unsettling, but very real sequence of events.

The first two stories in particular, The Swords and The Real R
This isn’t my first attempt at reading this collection. I tried it back in March of this year, read the first story, and then decided it wasn’t for me. A few months ago, I started my Valancourt Books reading project (while also working on my Dark Tower reading project and my Star Wars reading project), and saw that one of Aickman’s books was on their publication list, so I thought I’d try this one again with a fresh perspective.

The results are mixed. Some of the stories are good, others elude me
Jan 12, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I enjoyed Aickman's collection "The Unsettled Dust" a bit more than this collection, but this one still deserves 5 stars. Aickman's work surpasses that of many other writers in his ability to create an unreal, dreamlike (and sometimes nightmarish) atmosphere. In my opinion there's only one true masterpiece here, "The Swords," some of the others are very good like "The Real Road to the Church," "Pages From a Young Girl's Journal," "The Hospice" and "The Same Dog." But there's really no complete d ...more
This sounds arch, but the first full memories I have of reading this collection is back in December, the day after Christmas, on the beach, watching gray clouds blow over the cold water. It was almost too perfect of a setting. Stories like "The Real Road to the Church" ceased to be a vessels for narrative, and became a sense of mood, one projected on everyone walking by. It was, if anything, a little too perfect a synchronization, the reader equivalent of a photographer photographing a teddy bea ...more
Nov 06, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
As the nights started to draw in and Halloween approached I picked up this wonderful set of gothic short stories. They opened with a very decrepit travelling circus and a salesman's very bizarre encounter , and a host of curious and weird situations followed including a vampire tale in Victorian Italy, a bed and breakfast that was terrifying , a curious encounter with a ghostly dog, and a wife obsessed by clocks.
Definitely weird and unsettling and a writer who I will happily revisit especially w
James Everington
Apr 24, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Great book of 'strange' fiction - Aickman was a true one-off, closer to Kafka than anyone else. His reputation is largely kept alive by the horror community nowadays, but deserves a wider readership from anyone who likes the weird and surreal. ...more
Jun 08, 2018 marked it as unfinished
Recommended to Sarah by: online literature map (close to Kavan)
Shelves: 2018
Not strange enough.
Steve Payne
Sep 29, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Robert Aickman is like no other. He defies genre and label, and trying to find anyone to compare him to is a pointless exercise. Some mention M.R. James in the same sentence, but as fine a writer as James is, Aickman is far wider in his themes and settings, and is far greater in depth, character, skill, and sheer strangeness. And strange is the word he preferred to use himself to describe his stories; not horror, or the more limiting ghost.

I mentioned in a previous review that an admiration for
Feb 25, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm so glad Aickman 's short stories are being republished. I'm not sure I'm going to read all 44 in one chunk though, they're too intense. The Same Dog was my favourite here. ...more
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Author of: close to 50 "strange stories" in the weird-tale and ghost-story traditions, two novels (The Late Breakfasters and The Model), two volumes of memoir (The Attempted Rescue and The River Runs Uphill), and two books on the canals of England (Know Your Waterways and The Story of Our Inland Waterways).

Co-founder and longtime president of the Inland Waterways Association, an organization that

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