Another of my Christmas Valancourt books! I was honestly impressed by this collection. It has a consistently high quality of stories and there weren’t any that I thought were especially weak. I also liked that it was a mix of Victorian and more modern stories, which felt like a good back and forth in terms of writing style. There were some legitimately scary stories in here. After slogging through so many indifferent SF/F collections from the 1960s and 1970s over the past few years, this was a nice reminder that story collections can actually be good.
Out of the collection, “Miss Mack,” a grim little story about what a man will do to break up a friendship that threatens him, stood out to me. I found the ending really quite scary and it did a great job of getting across that sense you have of being trapped in a dream turned nightmare. “School Crossing,” about a man who keeps hallucinating children in the road at a school crossing, had a strong sense of growing tension and surreality. “The Ghost of Charlotte Cray” and “The Head and the Hand” were both good Victorian ghost stories with a fresh feel to them. I also liked “The Tarn” enough that I think I might try Hugh Walpole’s other work. The only one I didn’t really like was the poem, “The Grim White Woman,” but that’s mainly because I’m not that much of a poetry person.
Overall, very enjoyable and it flew by on the train. Reading short stories on a train ride is really ideal, as I find that they seem to go by especially quickly in transit.