Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “This Dreaming Isle” as Want to Read:
This Dreaming Isle
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

This Dreaming Isle

3.75  ·  Rating details ·  159 ratings  ·  34 reviews
Something strange is happening on British shores.

Britain has a long history of folk tales, ghost stories and other uncanny fictions, and these literary ley lines are still shimmering beneath the surface of this green and pleasant land. Every few generations this strangeness crawls out from the dark places of the British imagination, seeping into our art and culture. We are
Paperback, 328 pages
Published November 19th 2018 by Unsung Stories
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about This Dreaming Isle, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about This Dreaming Isle

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.75  · 
Rating details
 ·  159 ratings  ·  34 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of This Dreaming Isle
This Dreaming Isle is 'an anthology of new horror stories and weird fiction with a distinctly British flavour'. The 17 stories, divided into sections titled 'Country', 'City' and 'Coast', often – as editor Dan Coxon highlights in his introduction – stray into the realm of folk horror. The collection opens with a trio of stories that represent the best work in the book: 'The Pier at Ardentinny' by Catriona Ward, 'Old Trash' by Jenn Ashworth and 'In My Father's House' by Andrew Michael Hurley. Oth ...more
What is “folk horror”? Perhaps, like proverbial True Love, you’ll only recognize it when you meet it. Both as a term and as a literary and artistic genre, it defies a facile definition and is possibly easier to explain with reference to its typical – yet by no means exclusive – elements. The term itself is often attributed to British film director Piers Haggard, who coined it in a 2003 interview to describe his own film The Blood on Satan’s Claw (1971). It was subsequently taken up by Mark Gatis ...more
Matthew Putnam
Jun 27, 2019 rated it liked it
Halfway through this anthology I felt it was firmly in the 2-star range, however after finishing I'm giving a tentative 3/5.

I wasn't blown away by any of the stories, and felt none were truly frightening, but what this collection of shorts has going for it is a vague feeling of malaise which accompanies most of the tales within.

Many of these are rather predictable and follow a similar, almost cookie-cutter formula for telling a creepy story—a normal person finds themself in a new situation, some
Oct 25, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
This Dreaming Isle is a collection of literary horror stories set in the British Isles. Divided into three sections, “Country,” “City,” and “Coast,” all of the stories, according to the editor, “in some way explore the myths and traditions, the folklore and history that make this land unique” (3). History itself often haunts the settings in these stories, and time is shown to be something more circular than linear.

The “Country” and “Coastal” stories are decidedly stronger than the “City,” stori
Alex Sarll
An excellent anthology of eerie British tales, of which appropriately enough I'd never heard until I happened across it in a curious bookshop while making an unexpected visit to the toytown Britannia that is Bath. A foreword explains that it was kicked off before Brexit was a thing, but that having come out now, there's a horrible sense of foreboding in all these tales of seeping not-right-ness and things thought dead and gone now rearing their ghastly heads in the modern world. I'm sure it will ...more
Jan 08, 2019 rated it it was ok
'The Pier at Ardentinny' by Catriona Ward [3/5]
'Old Trash' by Jenn Ashworth [1/5]
'In My Father's House' by Andrew Michael Hurley [2/5]
'Land of Many Seasons' by Tim Lebbon [2/5]
'Dark Shells' by Aliya Whiteley [1/5]
'Cold Ashton' by Stephen Volk [2/5]
'Domestic Magic (Or, things my wife and I found hidden in our house)' by Kirsty Logan [2/5]

'Not All Right' by James Miller [1/5]
'The Cocktail Party in Kensington Gets Out of Hand' by Robert Shearman [1/5] (After reading his short story 'The
Elle Maruska
Feb 06, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Overall this was an incredibly, consistently strong anthology of weird/dark/slipstream/fantasy/horror fiction based on the lands, cities, and waterways of Britain. I really enjoyed how the stories all matched the theme but were still very diverse in style and substance. I really loved Jeannette Ng's story and could honestly read like, a whole series of novels set in her universe. Ramsey Campbell's story was incredibly creepy, Angela Readman's was beautiful and sad, Catriona Ward's called up so m ...more
Feb 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  (Review from the author)
Genuinely terrifying and inspiring - so many different ways to approach the short story form. Jenn Ashworth’s story made me have to put down the book for a minute to catch my breath. And I’m genuinely still upset about Robert Spearman’s story.

Disclaimer: I have a story in this book.
Jun 03, 2020 rated it really liked it
This is a fascinating snapshot of the current state of weird fiction in the UK, and a handy tick list of its preoccupations. Urban alienation and the strangeness of the city. The layering of history and the permeable boundary between 'past' and 'present'. The ways in which myth and legend shape the present and/or are re-enacted in it. A growing recognition of the weird potential of digital technology, with personal devices and the internet itself equally haunted. A growing determination to make ...more
Alex (The Bookubus)
A wonderful anthology of folk-horror stories set in the British Isles. We have a mix of occult, supernatural, ancient evils, local myths and legends, and more. Overall this was a strong collection and there were only a couple of stories that didn't really work for me.

My favourites were:
The Pier at Ardentinny by Catriona Ward
In My Father's House by Andrew Michael Hurley
Land of Many Seasons by Tim Lebbon
Dark Shells by Aliya Whiteley
The Headland of Black Rock by Alison Littlewood
The Devil in the
Jan 06, 2019 rated it really liked it
17 British horror authors are given the task of creating new folk horror stories set in the cities, coasts and countryside of the U.K.. modern, scary, thoughtful and sometimes charming. A really good collection

Full review ‪
Ross Jeffery
May 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing
There is so much with This Dreaming Isle to marvel at, from the inception of the remarkable concept from editor Dan Coxon, to the beautifully haunting image that wraps itself around the book. The list of authors that grace the cover and offer remarkable and memorable stories, each showcasing a mastery of the short story form is something to salivate over. There is also the simple fact that all these stories are based in the UK – dealing with folklore and the uncanny that this fair Isle has to of ...more
Dec 25, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
3.5 stars.

I love the idea of this, and I love the way it's been edited, dividing the book into three distinct parts that reflect very much the most vital areas of England: Country, City and Coast. The seventeen stories in this collection cover a host of supernatural occurrences, embracing the diversity of the English experience. Most were very well thought out, even if the execution on some felt iffier than others. I'll discuss a few standouts, beginning with The Headland Of Black Rock by Alison
This was such a disappointment. On paper, this is a collection I should adore but even a typically strong Ramsay Campbell story couldn't save it. The stories in The City portion of the book were especially bad. ...more
Trudi Hauxwell
Sep 28, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: horror-fiction
As with many anthologies the quality of the stories contained in This Dreaming Isle varies. The collection is described as seventeen new horror stories and weird fictions drawing upon the landscape and folklore of the British Isles, but several of the stories don't really fit the brief, being more mundane snapshots of domestic life than tales to conjur dread.

Luckily those that got it right are really good, their effects ranging from creepy to downright surreal. Fans of short story horror will r
May 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This Dreaming Isle – review by Terry Melia
Back in the 1970’s, low income limited my book purchasing to second hand novels in charity shops. Skimming through the shelves of paperback best sellers – Sven Hassel, Alistair Maclean, Dick Francis etc - I’d hit gold pay-dirt with a copy of The Pan Book of Horror Stories - introducing me to some of the best short story writing by established and new writers. Stories of the uncanny jostled with tales of the macabre and quite a few of them gave me nightma
Apr 09, 2019 rated it really liked it
3.5 stars.

Favourite stories: Old Trash, In My Father's House, Not All Right, The Cocktail Party in Kensington Gets Out of Hand, The Knucker

Least favourite: Land of Many Seasons, Cold Ashton, The Devil in the Details, The Stone Dead
Apr 14, 2019 rated it really liked it
This short story collection is divided into three parts: country, city and coast. After reading the first section I was in love with the selection and was hoping it could be a 5 stars read. This feeling didn't stay though. The city section, unfortunately, wasn't for at all and I didn't love a single story of this section. They were all okay but I had higher hopes for them. The last section definitely was better but couldn't reach the brilliancy of the first. (Which surprised me a bit because I l ...more
Sandra Lindsey
Mar 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A bit of an impulse purchase for me this one, back when the kickstarter was running. It’s then taken me a while to first transfer the file to my kindle and then get started reading.
I’m certainly not disappointed by the quality of what I found once I did start! As the introduction says, these tales can all be described as “folk horror” - they’re the darker kind of fairy tale and some are the kind that make you want to go back & start again when you get to the end. A masterclass in storytelling &
Rym Kechacha
Jan 20, 2019 rated it really liked it
This was such a varied and interesting collection. I loved the way it was structured around coast, town, country, etc and this made the stories flow in a way I didn't expect. I've had a different favourite story every time I've thought about this collection, depending on my mood, but I think overall the stories by Catriona Ward, Gareth E Rees and Robert Shearman edge it out overall. A collection to be read outdoors, I think. ...more
The Master
Jul 22, 2019 rated it really liked it
A better than average anthology of weird and eerie tales set in Britain, and who knows how much longer it may last.

Three best:

- Land of Many Seasons by Tim Lebbon
- The Headland of Black Rock by Alison Littlewood
- The Knucker by Gareth E. Rees

Bonus shouts for Not All Right by James Miller (J.G. Ballardesque) and The Cocktail Party in Kensington Gets Out of Hand by Robert Shearman (what a warped imagination this man has).

Let's have a second volume.
Oct 29, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: short-stories, horror
I'm not sure I'd call this short story collection "horror". Odd, maybe, or weird might be better. Divided into 3 sections: country, city and coast. The city part was the low point. But there were two stories involving kelpies that were quite good. Stories set in the moors; a boy looking at murals for an artist's self-portrait that seems to change position; glancing in the river from a certain pier to see your true reflection. Creepy! ...more
Christopher Stanley
Jan 26, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I'd give this six stars if I could. A compelling blend of quiet, folk horror stories, travelling the length and breadth of this dreaming isle. The stories are all beautifully written and carefully assembled, and the whole book was a joy from start to finish. My favourite tales were The Pier at Ardentinny (Catriona Ward), Domestic Magic (Kirsty Logan), The Cocktail Party at Kensington Gets Out of Hand (Robert Shearman) and The Headland of Black Rock (Alison Littlewood). Shearman's story, in parti ...more
Dave Turner
Mixed bag of contemporary horror short stories. "Cold Ashton" stands out as an example of how to intrigue the reader. Could have done without the unnecessary liberal-left political rant in the introduction. Totally irrelevant! A far better compilation is the anthology "Fiends in the Furrows", in a different league than this collection of variable quality. ...more
Penny lurkykitty
Jan 01, 2019 rated it really liked it
This is a good collection of creepy, atmospheric, and unsettling tales, all set in the UK. Many of the authors incorporate the setting and landscape into their stories. There is only one story which left me completely baffled, We Regret to Inform You.
Bob Green
Nov 16, 2019 rated it liked it
Half the stories are great (especially Andrew Michael Hurley, James Miller, Robert Shearman and Ramsey Campbell). Some others didn’t end well, but all had a sense of menace. The foreword by Dan Coxon was excellent.
Dec 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This exceptional collection of contemporary short stories focus on dark supernatural, folklore and Gothic themes, cleverly organized around Britain's actual locations (includes illustrated maps before each section, where stories take place). Truly well-written and beautifully realized. ...more
Shona Kinsella
Feb 17, 2019 rated it really liked it
Overall, an excellent anthology, full of creepy tales. I especially enjoyed the offerings from Catriona Ward, Alina Whitely, Kirsty Logan and Ramsey Campbell
Sep 25, 2020 rated it it was ok
An unfortunately mediocre collection of stories. Most are bloodless, lacking atmosphere or compelling narratives, although a few were worth reading
Dec 28, 2020 rated it it was ok
Mostly amateurish, never scary.
« previous 1 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • Water Shall Refuse Them
  • The Fiends in the Furrows: An Anthology of Folk Horror
  • Starve Acre
  • The Loosening Skin
  • The Reddening
  • Wyrd and Other Derelictions
  • Devil's Day
  • Ghostland: In Search of a Haunted Country
  • The Graveyard Apartment
  • Love Frankie
  • Wakenhyrst
  • Within These Walls
  • Rawblood
  • Sarah Canary
  • The Prince Who Would Be King: The Life and Death of Henry Stuart
  • Zombie
  • Unforgivable Love
  • Help The Witch
See similar books…
Dan Coxon is a short story writer and editor. He recently edited This Dreaming Isle for Unsung Stories (Best Independent Press - British Fantasy Awards 2018), and Being Dad (Best Anthology - Saboteur Awards 2016) for Tangent Books. His writing has appeared in The Guardian, Salon, The Lonely Crowd, Neon, Gutter, Unthology, The Nervous Breakdown and Open Pen, as well as several anthologies. He also ...more

Related Articles

Kazuo Ishiguro insists he’s an optimist about technology.  “I'm not one of these people who thinks it's going to come and destroy us,” he...
166 likes · 21 comments
“The membrane between worlds was thinner out here than the inland-dwelling peoples could ever realise, so they expected no help.” 0 likes
“Enough of happy. I’m sick of happy. The prison of it, a weight on my lungs. The thing I should be aiming to feel, and make others feel. It’s a relief when the pleasant young man asks me instead, ‘Can you remember a time in the village when you were sad?” 0 likes
More quotes…