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Help The Witch

3.97  ·  Rating details ·  274 ratings  ·  47 reviews
Inspired by our native landscapes, saturated by the shadows beneath trees and behind doors, listening to the run of water and half-heard voices, Tom Cox s first collection of short stories is a series of evocative and unsettling trips into worlds previously visited by the likes of M. R. James and E. F. Benson.
Railway tunnels, the lanes and hills of the Peak District, famil
Hardcover, 264 pages
Published October 18th 2018 by Unbound Digital
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3.97  · 
Rating details
 ·  274 ratings  ·  47 reviews

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Tom Cox is best known for his humorous non-fiction, particularly the memoir 21st-Century Yokel and several books about his social-media-famous cats. Help the Witch is something different: a collection of spooky short stories. The blurb sells it well, saying the tales within are 'inspired by our native landscapes, saturated by the shadows beneath trees and behind doors, listening to the run of water and half-heard voices... a series of evocative and unsettling trips into worlds previously visit ...more
Oct 16, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: books-read-2018
October is the time of year for ghost stories and come the end of the month when the clocks go back then it feels like the right time to read them. This very latest book from Tom Cox is his first venture into fiction and there are ten short stories from him in here that venture from ghost stories to a modern take on stories that we have heard time and time again.

Beginning with Help the Witch, a tale of a guy who has just moved into an old house in early December and is shortly snowed in. Not is
This book is short stories.
I've got to admit I've never been much of a fan of short story collections. But this was brilliant.

It's random dark nature seemed to make me just want to keep reading.

I would definitely recommend this book.
Diana Rogers
Jan 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
An eclectic collection of ghost stories from the idiosyncratic mind of Tom Cox. Reading this was a bit like watching my favorite anthology horror film, Dead of Night: Some tales are slight and anecdotal, others have a little more meat on their bones. Some are very funny and some are achingly romantic and melancholy. The end result is something that's not entirely cohesive when taken as a whole, but that's actually part of the appeal. I enjoy Cox's writing and the way he sees the world. Though I ...more
Bookish Chat
Sep 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I'll level with you. I bloody loved this book. If there was ever a review where I desperately want to just say READ THIS BOOK! (In big shouty capitals no less) it's this one.

BUT as I'm a book blogger I better put a bit more effort in guys. So here goes....

I was sold this book instantly when I read that it was a must for fans of Daisy Johnson's short story collection Fen. I have a penchant for the strange, the disconcerting, the insidiously unsettling. All the better if this source of unease come
Caroline Mann
Dec 21, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nature
Like Tom Cox has said, this isn’t really a ghost book, which means that it isn’t really all that scary once you get beyond the creaky house stuff in Help the Witch. The best story was Just Good Friends, with The Pool as a second. You can tell that he’s very much a nature/folklore writer in those selections, which is what I like him for anyway. His female narrators are particularly impressive. Enjoyed this but am still looking forward to his return to nonfiction in his next book.
I knew Tom Cox for his witty books about his many cats, including The Good, the Bad and the Furry. His first foray into fiction was published by Unbound earlier this month; I pre-ordered it on a Kindle deal for £1. The settings are dilapidated cottages, moorland and villages, mostly in the North of England. Even in the spookier stories, there’s always a welcome touch of humor. “Seance” raises the ghost of a cyclist who was killed on his bike and now is destined to cycle evermore. He doesn’t, at ...more
Nick Swarbrick
Dithering about four stars; maybe I’m just mean with the five. Give it five: this is a very clever book indeed, combining disorienting tales of the afterlife such as Séance, reminiscent of The Third Policeman (or is it just the bicycles that make me think that?) with a slow menace in The Pool. Ah yes, The Pool: the story that would put anyone off wild swimming… and Listings: the slowest of slow burn stories grippingly told - and entirely from Estate Agents’ blurbs.

It’s hard to review and avoid
Dec 31, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
3 1/2. I like Tom Cox's writing, and a lot of these stories seemed very him, but there were also quite a few that felt underdeveloped.
Oct 14, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: kindle
To manage your expectations, it would be remiss of me not to mention the quirkiness of this collection – I’ve never read anything quite like it before, and will confess that the jury’s still out on how I felt about some of the rather weirder very short stories included as grouped stories within the whole. But there was so much about the writing that I really loved, and I’ll focus on the stories that I enjoyed the most.

In the first story – also called Help the Witch – the descriptions of unforgiv
Oct 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing
To me autumn means many things days get shorter, the colour of the trees looking for natures rich harvest cosy days and evenings curled up with a book of short stories and if that book is one of old folk tales and creepy stories that just make the hair on the back of your neck stand up all the better. Well if this has got your attention then you are going to love Help the Witch (unbound) by Tom Cox.

Tom’s previous book 21st-Century Yokel was longlisted for the 2018 Wainwright Golden Beer Book Pr
Sean Kennedy
Nov 08, 2018 rated it liked it
(3.5 / 5)

As with any anthology there are some hits and misses depending on the reader's personal tastes, but there are genuinely creepy and morbidly poignant stories in this book that will have you hoping for a second volume.
Yvonne Aburrow
Feb 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A very enjoyable collection of short stories, drawing on folklore and ghosts. They're written in a very original style, and in authentic voices of the various characters who narrate the stories. My favourite stories were “Help the Witch”, “Folk Tales of the Twenty-third Century”, and “An Oral History of Margaret and the Village by Matthew and Five Others”. A couple of stories were a bit weaker than the rest, but that's inevitable in a collection. I think this is an excellent book and would defin ...more
Oct 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
With some trepidation, I started reading this book last night just before bedtime. All I knew about it was that it's a collection of short stories - and given the title, I feared some of them might cause my brain, with its overactive imagination, to produce anxiety & nightmares - I usually can't read or watch anything even vaguely scary or suspenseful before bed!

What an amazing and wonderful surprise, then, to read the first few paragraphs and feel not frightened but comforted.

Something ab
Marcel Krueger
Jan 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
While these are not classical ghost stories, they are weird and wonderful, and I read the book in one hungover day in front of the fire while Irish December wind and rain howled around the house, and it was perfect.
Oct 26, 2018 rated it liked it
This was a strange one - being a collection of short stories, you'd expect hits and misses. But some of the misses were, frankly, irritating. If the book had consisted solely of the story made up of a series of connected public notices, I'd have given it five stars.
Sarah Carless
Oct 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Quietly magical

Short stories with a lateral, often supernatural or pagan twist. Written with a light but firm touch. Resonates in a dark yet oddly familiar way.
John Robinson
Nov 23, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
So, when I started reading this, I thought it was a collection of essays about various aspects of English folklore in the Peak District and elsewhere...and not, you know, a collection of short stories...
Which made the first essay, involving the ghost of a witch, just fucking amazing and...yeah, then I read the back cover (or whatever passes for the back cover in e-books, the little page on kindle) and realized the whole collection is goddamn fiction, still really great stuff, mind, just not exac
Gary Budden
Oct 25, 2018 rated it liked it
A couple of brilliant folk horror stories in here - especially ‘Just Good Friends’ which is worth getting the book for alone - and two missteps that didn’t work for (hence the 3/5)
Jo Barton
Oct 17, 2018 rated it really liked it
The ten short stories which make up this imaginative collection of short stories are a mixture of strange little tales which are perfect reading for this autumnal season. Some, like the opener, Help the Witch, make the hair on the back of your neck stand up, whilst others, like Listings, are so quirky that you can't help but be intrigued by the message they convey. All are written with a keen eye for the unusual and more than once I was reminded of those ghost tales of a distant past when the cu ...more
Nov 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing

Help the Witch is a collection of spooky stories from Tom Cox, he’s yearned to write fiction for years he says but is glad he waited (nine non-fiction books precede this, I reviewed 21st Century Yokel, the most recent, here) . Whatever effect the waiting has had on Tom’s fiction writing this is a fantastic book – the writing is excellent, sometimes funny, and unsettling as supernatural stories should be....

...This is an excellent collection of stories (I haven’t covered all of them her
Dec 07, 2018 rated it really liked it
I’m not a huge reader of short stories as a general rule but I do make an exception for ghost stories. There’s something sublime in reading a snippet of the strange and uncanny, like getting a little shot of the shivers straight into your spine. So I was thrilled when I discovered that Tom Cox was planning his first foray into fiction with Help the Witch, a collection of ghost stories, inspired in part by a very cold, dark winter spent living in a possibly haunted house in a remote part of the P ...more
More of a gentle, moody, bittersweet book than a scary one. I loved the title story and the last story most of all. Much as the title suggests, instead of being spooked by and avoiding your village witch, these are stories for being curious about her, in awe of her, and maybe even cautiously befriending her.

Also, this is the most gorgeous indie-published book I have ever beheld (shiny gold foil! beautiful black and white wraparound illustration!) and I love that the cover illustration reminds m
Oct 27, 2018 rated it liked it
This collection of strange tales, many of them marinated in English regional folklore, is an ideal book to read at this stage of the year, as the nights draw in and the world outside the front door has an air of chill menace. Help the Witch is a lucky dip of stories, long and short and disturbing by degrees. The title story - for me the most successful in the collection - is a brilliantly spooky evocation of a cold and lonely winter spent in the Peak District. It captures the otherworldliness of ...more
Nov 03, 2018 rated it liked it
This book is a beautiful artefact. The cover art is atmospheric and pleasing, the bookmark ribbon a delight and my hardback creaks eeriely when I open it. I wanted to love it, but I have to be honest and report that whilst Tom Cox is brilliant at creating atmospheres and suggesting settings for stories, I was disappointed by the stories themselves.

I liked 'Just Good Friends' very much and it seemed complete, but the others were like sketches for a story that got interrupted partway through and w
Nov 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing
The book arrived just before Halloween, which was the perfect time to read with a roaring fire in the background!

I've never been one for "Ghost stories" but as I've been a follower or Tom Cox for a while and think his writing style is fantastic, I decided to give it a go and was not disappointed!

The short stories in the book are great and really do grab you quickly and make you want to read on to see where he goes with the next!

I thoroughly enjoyed "Little Goth twat" and "Help the Witch" but the
Jan 15, 2019 rated it really liked it
This is Tom Cox's first foray into published fiction writing, coming in the form of short stories, each with a countryside setting and a dark ghostly overtone. The stories range in length and tone, and all are unique in style. It's very good writing, each little story draws you in immedately and the characters are interesting and engaging.

This is his second book to be published by crowdfunding site 'Unbound', which I gladly supported. As a perk... I may be in the book... In the very short 'Vanis
Dec 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Tom Cox's writing is evocatively rural but with a solid vein of the weird running through, a little like if Arthur Machen had been a conservation or nature journalist rather than a proto-horror novelist.
Tom's take on the weird is refreshing; he treats it as though it is right and proper and supposed to be where it is, doing what it does.
Great read!
Fiona Dodwell
Nov 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing
My full review of Tom Cox's Help the Witch is on my blog:

These stories are fantastic; creepy at times, odd and unnerving at others. Vivid descriptions and layered characters really bring the stories to life. Beautifully written.

I loved it.
Jack Bates
Nov 02, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Slightly spooky stories where landscape is as vital as people

I enjoyed this, I liked the question marks that kind of hover over it all, and Cox's nature writing is always excellent. The puzzled/accepting attitudes of the protagonists are great as well.
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“This place – this part of the Peak District – has its own particular winter smell. It followed me on a walk today: a very long one.” 0 likes
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