booklady's Reviews > Ancestral Shadows: An Anthology of Ghostly Tales

Ancestral Shadows by Russell Kirk
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's review
Dec 09, 2011

it was amazing
bookshelves: 2012, fiction, favorites, fantasy, 2011, 2013, adventure, classic, crime, mystery, worth-reading-over-and-over, horror
Read in May, 2013

Ancestral Shadows by Russell Kirk are some of the most amazing short stories I've ever read. They are also not for the faint of heart, because they task both your vocabulary and imagination. I took my time reading them the first time (in 2011) and here I am on my second go-round ... savoring them again. Some stories are frightening, others crazily eerie, some thought-provoking, some puzzling, a couple I don't think I understood at all—even this time—although I know I did better. I would love to read these in a book club!

Kirk reminds me of cross between Flannery O'Connor and Daphne du Maurier, somewhere between the bizarre and the terrifying. But every story leaves you with the sense that all of life and every single choice has consequence—for good or ill.

In these stories, what you never know is who is alive, who is dead, and who is somewhere in between—in some nebulous state of being not quite one yet not the other. Sometimes the good person has returned from the dead to visit the evil living person to exact justice for the ill done them during life. In other cases, it might be an evil spirit allowed to wreak havoc on someone because they won't listen to anyone, or they're too greedy, mean-spirited or whatever. But whenever I get to thinking I've figured out Kirk's modus operandi so far as ‘justice’ is concerned, then I'll start a new story and it will be totally different. Amazing collection!

I don't even like the genre of horror, but these aren't scary to no purpose. They aim to teach without being overtly didactic. MOST highly recommended! Each tale doesn't get the 5 star rating but it goes to the collection and to the author overall. (Last read 2014; due to read again!)
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Reading Progress

01/06/2012 page 308
04/04/2016 marked as: read

Comments (showing 1-11 of 11) (11 new)

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message 1: by Julie (new)

Julie Davis Kirk's Lord of the Hollow Dark was a really surprising book and makes me agree with what you say about his fiction being a cross between O'Connor and Du Maurier. I know I didn't catch everything in it. Yet it was still quite satisfying.

booklady Thanks! I'll have to add that to my list as well! ☺

message 3: by Willa (new)

Willa sounds really interesting; thanks for the review!

message 4: by Clare (new) - added it

Clare Cannon "Kirk reminds me of cross between Flannery O'Connor and Daphne du Maurier" - Sold!

booklady He is amazing. I am not a short story reader as a rule, but I love these and yes, he is on par with those two greats. I know those ladies would gladly move aside and make room for the gentleman.

message 6: by Homeschoolmama (new)

Homeschoolmama Woot woot! Just saw this on my updates, thank you ladies! Any time I see a reference to Flannery O'Connor's writings, I think, "Well this must be good then."

booklady The dust jacket write-up compares him to other ghost story writers. I see where he fits into that category too, but more than a few of the stories aren't scary (in the Poe sense of the word) so much as eerie and very, very thought-provoking. Some were so beautifully touching, they made me teary-eyed. A couple of them can be read as stand-alones and yet they also go together as they continue the plot-line from previous stories.

Knot (Claire-Edith) Telling Sounds fascinating, but I'm a scaredy cat, so I think I'll give it a miss!

message 9: by Bear (new)

Bear boo!

message 10: by Anna (new) - added it

Anna O.P. Intriguing! Sounds like the right dose of weirdness for me.


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