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The Stones of Muncaster Cathedral

4.04  ·  Rating details ·  150 ratings  ·  29 reviews
Soon after steeplejack Joe Clarke begins work on one of the spires of Muncaster's medieval cathedral, terrible things start to happen and Joe realizes that there is a malevolent force connected to the spire's gargoyle.
Paperback, 97 pages
Published April 1st 1994 by Sunburst (first published 1991)
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4.04  · 
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 ·  150 ratings  ·  29 reviews

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4.5 stars!

Originally published back in 1991, the title novella is one creepy story about a steeplejack working on the towers and steeple of Muncaster Cathedral. This edition also contains the story "Brangwyn Gardens", which is entirely new to American audiences.

Joe Clarke wondered why he had the fortune to get this good paying job, (the repairs to the cathedral). How could everyone else not be available? But as so many of us do, he set aside his questions and set to work. Get 'er done, right? A

Gargoyles! Malevolent Gargoyles! ooooo wonderful. Ah but a couple of weeks ago I had read the Gargoyles of Notre Dame.
Jonathan Janz
Jun 12, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This is why we need publishers like Valancourt Books. Without them, I never would have heard of Robert Westall, never would have read THE STONES OF MUNCASTER CATHEDRAL.

Man, am I glad I did.

I don't really do synopses in my reviews and don't have time to now. Books to write, you see.

But I will say this: If you read the title novella, you will know what it's like to be a steeplejack, to hang suspended many stories above the ground. To feel the wind buffet your body and know you're only a slight
5 stars--I thoroughly loved both of these horror novellas, and I'm grateful as ever to Valancourt for bringing these horror classics back into print. (Seriously, I haven't been disappointed once by their selections.)

The Stones of Muncaster Cathedral: This is a classic "unholy ground" story, where a steeplejack squares off against the evil that dwells in a cathedral. The narrator's voice is crisp and vivid, and I cared deeply about his welfare.

Brangwyn Gardens: This story's twist blew me away. A
Nancy Oakes
catching up:

I actually read this back in December during a stormy day, wrapped up in a blanket with a cup of hot, spicy chai in hand -- it was, as I mentioned somewhere, a perfectly ahhhh sort of Saturday experience. There are two eerie tales in one volume here: the title story, "The Stones of Muncaster Cathedral," and a story that has never before seen the light of day in the US, "Brangwyn Gardens." My personal favorite is the latter, but both are quite good, and I have absolutely no qualms in
Rob Twinem
Dec 21, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Two chilling stories of the supernatural that can be read by either teens or adults, they are both well researched, informative, fascinating and evocative.
The main titled story “The Stones of Muncaster Cathedral” is about Joe Clarke Steeplejack extraordinaire who together with his work mate Billy Simpson is prepared to scale any building to carry out all necessary repairs and maintenance. The trouble however begins when they are given a job of cleaning the South West tower at Muncaster Cathedr
Robert Vanneste
Jan 15, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
3.5 - 4.0 .
Orrin Grey
Apr 22, 2010 rated it really liked it
I love Robert Westall.

I don't see him talked about very much. His stories are none of them especially groundbreaking, but they embody a kind of cozy horror that I absolutely love, and their approach to the supernatural is nearly pitch perfect for my tastes. One of these days I'll write up a longer post on Westall, but for now I'll let it suffice that The Stones of Muncaster Cathedral is a damned good example of why I love him so much.

It's a quick, brief novella, written in the blue-collar voice
Dec 22, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

I remain increasingly impressed with the quality of books that Valancourt has been reissuing--many of these I'd never heard of before, but have swiftly become some of my favorite reads of this year and last!

THE STONES OF MUNCASTER CATHEDRAL, contains two stories in the style of M.R. James' supernatural tales. The title story involves a steeplejack, Joe Clarke, who is hired to fix the South-West tower at Muncaster. Although he hints at being a little trepidatious at first (the prestigious job
Jun 29, 2018 rated it really liked it
I first encountered this story (long short story/short novella) years ago as a British radio drama. Years later, when the new Hammer studios was announced ( time flies), I thought it a perfect adaptation choice (it even has a logical, big-screen spectacle climax!). And I'd picked up the slim Farrar Straus Giroux printing years ago, and knew I had it sitting on my shelf. Well, I'm reading a smattering of Westall at the moment, so now's the time...

Joe Clarke, a steeplejack (from a fam
Jun 18, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Joe Clarke and his crew were hired to repair some stonework, in the South-West tower of Muncaster Cathedral. Usually, these type of jobs go to the bigger companies. It was very strange, that no was available to do this project. It turns out that was a very good reason that the other steeplejacks turned down this job. Joe will soon learn of the evil that lurks in the tower and the victims that it has claimed over the year.

The second story, Brangwyn Gardens, take place in 1955 Harry Shaftoe, is a
Sep 07, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2012, young-adult
I really enjoyed the voice of the author. I felt like he was actually narrating the story to me, rather than just writing down words to be read. Does that make sense?

And I love the idea of using pure evil to enhance the appearance of pure goodness. You'll have to read it to know what I'm talking about :) I'll never look at gargoyles the same way again.
Sep 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A great young adult horror book that honestly pushes the boundary of what you can get away with for that age group - especially when I first read it as a kid in the 90s. Creepy mood and fast-paced at only 100 pages.
A gorgeous little book, the title story is indeed nasty in a Jamesian sort of way, and an unusual and hauntingly sad second novella.
Sep 20, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I read this years ago when I worked at a children's bookstore. I am not a huge fan of horror stories, but this is the best I've read. It's a combination of both mystery and horror as the main character, a steeplejack named Joe, starts to unravel the mystery associated with the number of deaths at Muncaster Cathedral. A steeplejack is the individual that does the stone work on church and cathedral steeples so is essentially a European/British job and term.

The story is short and well-done with Bri
Linda Lipko
Oct 13, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: young-adult
A great read for the Halloween season.

Westall is amazing because no matter what the subject, ie his stories regarding WWII or, switching gears to a supernatural genre, he gently coaxes, entices and persuades the reader to join him on a journey to a landscape where his descriptions hold your interest to the very end.

Similar to some short stories found in his book In Camera and Other Stories, this small novella, read in one sitting, is darkly spooky. Westall quietly weaves a tale of a series of u
A.E. Shaw
Apr 21, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2013

I can't tell you how many times I've read this. I'll always remember the first time I read it, I was nine years old and it scared me to pieces, it really did, but I loved it. I don't generally like being scared, but Robert Westall is such a fine writer, it's a nasty pleasure with this tale. It's a short story, barely a novella, but it gets in family, history, architecture and drama in the most deft way possible. It's the kind of thing I come back to repeatedly because it's so neat and masterfull
From BBC Radio 4 Extra- 4 Extra Debut: In the cathedral spire, a malevolent gargoyle wields its evil power over the fate of steeplejack Joe Clarke. Stars Peter Meakin.
Aug 28, 2017 rated it really liked it
This is my first exposure to Robert Westall and I was quite impressed. These two long stories are in the tradition of M. R. James, particularly the first one with it's great sense of place and slow-building atmosphere of fear. The second story is a psychological, subtle ghost story. It reminded me more of something by Aickman, or Walter de la Mare's "Out of the Deep" or Oliver Onion's "The Beckoning Fair One."

I'll definitely look forward to exploring more of Westall's work.

The Stones of Muncaste
A great collection of two supernatural tales. The first is a very good story in the vein of MR James, but the second story “Brangwyn Gardens” impressed me even more. It is reminiscent of Oliver Onions’ classic story “The Beckoning Fair One,” but with a sly twist.

“He must be passive. He could not find his way to her. He was alive. Alive made you clumsy. When he rushed at her, she vanished. She must come to him. She would know how. Because she was dead.”
Dec 20, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A slender but excellent volume, comprising of two of Westall's longer supernatural tales. The title story is a novella length, a chilling tale of a haunted cathedral spire which comes to afflict and obsess the steeplejack charged with repairing it. The second - echoes of WW2 come back to haunt a young student in a decrepit old lodging house - is slighter but perhaps more focused and chilling.

Overall, a book highly recommended.
Dec 12, 2016 rated it really liked it
A bloody good scary read! Eerie, creepy and wonderfully atmospheric. There are no monsters, no gore and no teenage twits making idiots of themselves. Just really good writing that makes the hairs on the back of your neck stand straight up.
Aug 07, 2017 rated it really liked it
This was a great little novella. Very interesting supernatural tale. I couldn't put it down, and the ending was satisfying. I would've liked a little more backstory on the tower. I don't think it was fleshed out as much as it could've been. Overall a fun, quick read.
Oct 13, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2017
Two delightful stories, the better being the romantic and melancholy 'Brangwyn Gardens'. I'm certainly going to seek out more by this author.
Jun 27, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
After plodding through some of the last few Star Wars books and then tearing through the last few non-Star Wars books (five in less than two weeks), I decided I needed to start mixing things up with my Star Wars reading project. I'd forgotten what it felt like to be helpless to a story, but Cronin and King reminded me that it's pretty dang awesome. So I'm going to start flip-flopping between projects, reading one Star Wars book and then reading a random book from my backlog. At the very least, i ...more
Nov 25, 2016 rated it liked it
Mediocre stuff, considering it's Westall. The material, if not the execution, of the title story brings M.R. James to mind: a "cursed" cathedral tower, an eerie, defaced medieval stained-glass window, a disturbingly animate gargoyle, and so on. The detail about steeplejacking is convincing and effective; but there is little atmosphere and no truly unforgettable images and ideas of the sort which any MRJ yarn will furnish in abundance.

The second tale, "Brangwyn Gardens", is rather better; not th
Jan 19, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016
Awesome spooky stories. Reminded me of the unsettling stories you might tell at a slumber party; though these of course were more adult and complex. Really enjoyed these two stories.
Non è un romanzo, sono due racconti. Il primo non particolarmente interessante, tanto è vero che praticamente non me lo ricordo XD, mentre invece il secondo mi aveva decisamente scioccato.
Jun 09, 2012 rated it liked it
I like reading Westall, he keeps the imagination moving.
rated it it was amazing
Jan 14, 2017
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Valancourt Books: The Stones of Muncaster Cathedral (1991) by Robert Westall 15 15 Dec 20, 2015 04:50AM  

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Librarian Note: There is more than one author by this name in the Goodreads database.

Robert Westall was born in North Shields, Northumberland, England in 1929.

His first published book The Machine Gunners (1975) which won him the Carnegie Medal is set in World War Two when a group of children living on Tyneside retrieve a machine-gun from a crashed German aircraft. He won the Carnegie Medal again i
“That night, after we'd had our tea, Kevin and I went bird-watching. Not the usual sort, plodding round the fields with great binoculars round your neck (though I did take my work binoculars). No, we go up in the big trees in the wood, where the birds live. Right to the tops we go, where the branches sway and swing like a comfy bed, and you can look along the green billows of the tree-tops. In spring, we take the eggs out of the nests, handling them gentle, like, and putting them back afterwards of course. An' getting away quickly, so the hen-bird can come back and sit on them again. That's a wonder of life to me; to hold a speckled egg in the palm of your hand, and think what a marvellous thing it's going to become, a bird that flies and feeds and takes its chance with the cats, and breeds its own young and dies back into the dust in the end. Why does anyone need those crazy Christian dreams of Heaven, wi' angels playin' their harps on fleecy clouds, when they can have a wood at sunset, when you can look down from a low branch and see young rabbits playing, or even young foxes tumbling over and over and squeaking when they nip each other with their sharp little teeth?” 1 likes
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