A hilltop cemetery where the dead just won’t stay sleeping. An ill-fated voyage to an uncharted region off the coast of Iceland. An English village reminded of its heritage through the discovery of ancient bones.These tales and more can be found within the first short story collection from author Lex H Jones. Light the fire, make yourself a comforting drink, make sure the doors and windows are lined with salt, and settle in to enjoy this gathering of haunts and horrors.
Lex Jones was born and raised in Sheffield, north England, in 1985. A keen writer from a young age, he was always fascinated with the supernatural and is obsessed with stories. He loves films, books, theatre, videogames, graphic novels, anything with a good story that captures the imagination. His books tend to have a supernatural (or at least 'unusual') undercurrent, as this moves them away from the more boring aspects of real life.
A very long time ago Poe and Lovecraft had a baby together and that baby went on to write this book.
This books has so many different stories. I was thinking about rating them all separately because they are all so different. I decided against that because it would end up being way too long and why would anyone read my long review when you can just read this book!!
I will tall about a couple of my favorite short stories! 1. Whistling Past the Graveyard: is not only the name of the book but it also is an adorable story. I don't think adorable is the right word but I want to hug the characters. 2. Mr. Bentley's Garden: it was a sad little story but I liked the point. The "badguy" was really cool and thought out. 3. Nighttrain: this one is nightmare fuel because, no thank you.
All the stories were strong and well written. The characters were fun, sweet, and sometimes gross. I really think you should give this one a try. The book is perfect for those days you want to read a short story or two.
I am a huge fan of the short story form, but not every author has the knack. Jones definitely has the knack. This collection offers an eclectic smorgasbord of tales that take place in different time periods, deal with different subjects, and even have different themes... But they all have one thing in common. They are brilliantly told. Jones proves himself a master of the short form, creating vivid worlds and three dimensional characters in a relatively short span. The tales here range from exciting, terrifying, heartbreaking, amusing, but they all entertain. For me, some of the real standout tales were "The Shape off the Bow," "Patridge in a Pear Tree," "Seance," "The Wreaths of Wellbridge," "Whistling Past the Graveyard," and "The Wentworth Method."
At 13 stories and around 300 pages, this is a fairly sizable collection. The stories are quite varied and regardless of taste the reader is likely to find something to suit them. Many of the stories take place in the past, some quite far in the past. There is a formality of language that suits the characters but at times left me a bit cold. In general, the collection has a classical feel to it. This is not a criticism but merely an observation. There was a certain sense of nostalgia. It reminds me of some of the old pulp horror that I read when I was young and first becoming interested in the genre. I generally prefer stories with subtext these days, and there are stories in the collection that touch on themes of addiction and even a bit of cosmic horror that reads as a critique of American imperialism. But on the whole, the collection is light on subtext and the quality hangs on the narratives themselves. Jones mentions in the introduction that he aspires to the yarn spinning skills of his grandfather and I will say I was never bored. The stories are fairly linear but generally evenly paced and, while they sometimes felt a little heavy on exposition, were rich enough in detail that they kept me interested throughout. The pages drip with monsters both mythological and human. Fans of cryptids and the like will find plenty to sink their teeth into. In terms of main characters, there is an almost preternatural level of decency. This is unusual in modern horror, sufficiently so that it stood out to me. I’ll admit that I find more flawed protagonists relatable, but it adds to the escapist quality of these stories. There are plenty of scares to be had here, but the takeaway of most of the stories is that people are fundamentally good and trying to do what is right so the overall tone is never overly threatening and in spite of the scares, it feels like a collection that is intended to be more pleasantly diverting than a vivisection of the human condition and I think it hit the mark in this respect.
Over the last few years, I’ve had the pleasure of reading some of Lex Jones work, as well as appearing in an anthology with him. I adore his release ‘The Old One and The Sea,’ so I was very excited to discover he had a collection arriving shortly.
Jones kindly sent me a digital copy for review and I found I jumped in and out between his worlds with ease while reading some longer releases.
What I liked: ‘Whistling Past the Graveyard’ features thirteen stories that cover a variety of dark themes. His writing voice is that of a friend you’ve laughed with at the pub most weekends. Easy to read, but unsettling once things go full dark.
I really enjoyed the introduction Lex shares here, one I won’t spoil. I will say it is sweet, introspective and will make you smile. I think many of us in this line of writing share similar moments growing up.
I really dug each of the stories, but the standouts for me were ‘AC43R0N’ about a mysterious event, ‘Seance’ which is pretty self-explanatory with that title and the one-two punch of ‘NightTrain’ and ‘Whistling Past the Graveyard.’ Of all the stories, for me at least, the one that really had me creeped out and at the edge of my seat was ‘Lodge 328.’ God was this terrifying. Following a man going on vacation at a place he’d been previously. One simple note is left for him to follow and when he doesn’t, all things go upside down. If you read this, Lex – MAKE THIS A NOVEL!
What I didn’t like: As with each collection, each story will have different levels of enjoyment for each reader. All of the stories here were well done, but that’ll always be individual to every reader.
Why you should buy this: Lex Jones has crafted a fantastic batch of thirteen stories that will have you riveted and creeped out. He isn’t afraid to go dark and even darker and at times the pull in each of these stories is enough to leave you out of breath. This one has something for everyone and will definitely create a whole lot of new fans for his work.
Whistling Past the Graveyard is Lex H Jones’ first ever solo collection and it’s all very, very exciting!! In this release he has put together a collection of his short stories which are, of course, brilliant.
I absolutely love the cover, I think this is a beautifully classic looking cover, and these being quite classically written stories it really suits the idea of the book. There are thirteen stories inside, which are short but substantial. By which I mean they may be slightly longer than some I’ve reviewed where I’ve said you can read it in the time it takes you to drink a coffee. They are however something that won’t take a huge time investment, so they’re perfect for an evening in, pop the fire on and your feet up to enjoy a delightfully chilling tale from the one and only Mr Jones.
As always, I’m not going to walk you through all thirteen stories, although I do kind of want to. Choosing favourites is not an easy task with Lex H Jones because I really enjoy everything, I read by him. I have, however, chosen some favourites to talk to you about. By doing this I’m by no means recommending some over others, you might read one of my favourites and feel that another story was better, we all have our own tastes. Also, I want to reinforce here that I thoroughly enjoyed every story in the book so I’m recommending it as a whole not just certain stories.
My first favourite of this book is Partridge in a Pear Tree, I don’t know whether there is any M R James influence over Jones’ writing in general or perhaps this story, but it is so nicely written. The imagery floods into your mind when reading this story and it’s both chilling and gentle in equal measure. It gives the impression that the author wants you to feel this story, to experience it as he narrates and not necessarily scare you but give you that slight chill that the best stories do. Personally, I think he hit the nail on the head with this. I really enjoyed it and I will continue to do so many times over. I suppose if there were to be a moral to this story it would be “be sure your sins will find you out”.
Next on my list The Hangman’s Sojourn. Another following a similar moral to the previous, sins are a very dangerous thing my dear reader, and one must realise that they will seek you. A different tone and writing style to Partridge in a Pear Tree but just as good. Jones has a great range when it comes to writing these, you can always tell it’s his work but each one is nicely different from the last. It’s nice to see actually in a solo collection. I’ve read some authors where each story is the exact same style. I prefer solo collections for continuity, as some anthologies with authors whose styles differ wildly can be a bit much to read a large portion of at once, and I don’t like putting a book down once I’ve started it, but on the same token if they’re all very much the same it can have the same problem. Jones doesn’t suffer from that; each story is just as intriguing as the last but in a slightly different way.
The Wreaths of Wellbridge is something I enjoyed for the imagery and setting just as much as the story itself. It’s one of those where you can imagine the setting being any small rustic village you may have visited. I’ve visited a lot of these over the years and I always love being in them because I’m from a city, so any quaint little areas just get modernised. Until very recently my experience of my home city was very “concrete jungle” because I didn’t really see any green spaces unless I travelled for them, since I’ve moved it’s not quite the case, but even so I’ve seen my share of tiny towns across the country. Aside from their beauty there’s always something underlying about those towns and villages, the way everyone knows everyone’s business and people are that bit too cheery, it makes you wonder what’s going on beneath it all (I’m the suspicious type – it’s all those crimes I researched as a child). This story hits that slightly eerie feeling of those places directly on its head and I love it. Again, a very classic tone to this story whilst also effortlessly bringing in the modernity of our century. This story revisits what came before in a chilling adventure.
Everything and Nothing is the final story on my list. This is a story of greed and gain, and of playing with things you don’t fully understand. I love the character of Nivian in this story, the way she is described and her interactions with the main character, Arthur. As always with Jones’ writing the imagery comes through beautifully and the story plays out in my head clear and crisp. There are some nods to Arthurian Myths within this tale too so it would be interesting to know if you spot those.
I’ve been careful not to talk about the stories themselves so as not to cause spoilers and kept it to how I feel about the stories and the writing. I don’t like to say too much, especially when it’s a short story because you never know which detail will spoil it for different people. There is something about Jones’ writing that I can lose myself in, and the way my mind works that isn’t always easy to achieve. His writing settles me and makes me feel at ease so I can just enjoy what has been put in front of me.
There is one other story in this book, which I feel stands apart from the others in its tone. Check out NightTrain I’d be interested to know what others think of this one. It’s a great story and the imagery (as ever) is fantastic. I love the changes in the characters throughout the tale and it’s just fantastic to read. I’ve talked about this one separately, because I wanted to point out how different it is. It still has that very Lex H Jones manner about it and it’s still beautifully written, but you’ll see what I mean when you read it.
In short, another brilliant release for Lex H Jones and something I will be picking up on many occasions when I just fancy a sit down with a book. A chance to relax, unwind and let him tell me a ghost story by the light and warmth of my fire
EXCELLENT short story collection - from the first story to the last, I loved them all. Full review to come eventually, but for now: don't miss out on this collection, easily one of my favorites of the last couple years.
It’s rare, almost nonexistent, that a collection comes along where every story leaves a mark. Yep that’s exactly what Lex H Jones has done with Whistling Past the Graveyard. Jones details his past with storytelling during the introduction and the experience is on display as he puts forward a group of stories that all contain a fully realized world the reader can get lost in. Whistling Past the Graveyard visits a variety of sub genres, splicing genuine creeps with a modest amount of humor. Truth be told, every story is a standout, but some of the can’t-miss tales include “Seance”, “Lodge 328”, “The Hangman’s Sojourn”, “Whistling Past the Graveyard”, and “Everything and Nothing”.
Whistling Past the Graveyard is Lex H. Jones's newest release, and it is a collection that encompasses some rather disturbing themes. This was my first encounter with Lex's work, but one thing is certain, I will be looking for more. These 13 stories are heartfelt and full of passion for the horror genre. There is one that certainly screamed Poe at me. Many people seem to not like Poe, but for me, that’s what gets me, and Lex hits me the same way. I found that I really enjoyed Lex’s storytelling and when I find myself in a reading slump, I like to venture into short stories, maybe reading one and moving on for a while until it hits me again, but with this collection, I couldn’t stop. I’ve sat on this collection now wrapping my head around my thoughts and I think now is a good time to express them.
The stories here are well crafted, a particular few had me on the edge of my seat and rippling with anxiety. For starters, “Séance” maybe you’ll get the picture from the title, but whoa that was a good one. “AC43R0N” strange happenings, definitely didn’t see that ending coming, for me, my favorite was “Partridge in A Pear Tree,” the title says it all or does it. This one was very Poesque for me, and that’s a huge plus. I don’t want to spoil anything so I must cut that short, but I could talk about this one for hours. Another banger was “Lodge 328” imagine returning somewhere you’ve frequented and then there’s a mysterious note, you must follow what the note says, or everything is turned upside down, which still shakes me up thinking about that one. The creativity that flows out of Lex impresses me, the other stories in this collection come far from falling short.
Overall, this collection is solid, I only found myself wanting more from a few stories, but I feel as they were complete, mostly selfishness on my part. What I can say though is that if you’re a fan of short stories that have a way of capturing you, drawing you in, and then unsettling you, then this is a great place to get your fix. I can’t speak highly enough of these stories. I would recommend this to fans of short stories with as much heart as horror and if you decide to check it out, you’ll certainly be wanting more.
A huge thank you to Lex for sending me an eARC of Whistling Past the Graveyard!