Following his previous, acclaimed Sarob Press collection In the City of Ghosts Michael Chislett provides another bunch of ghostly tales, mostly set in the fictional London borough of Milford and the suburb of Mabbs End. Five stories are brand new, whereas eight have previously appeared in genre magazines (especially the excellent Supernatural Tales).
Chislett has a knack for creating creepy urban atmospheres, depicting sinister encounters and eerie experiences. Although, in my opinion, not up to the level of his previous collection, the present volume confirms his ability to create elegantly written, disquieting stories.
Among my favorite pieces are: “In the Garden,” an unusual story of botanical horror, where an ordinary garden of a London suburban house becomes the venue for ancient pagan forces, “Downriver,” an atmospheric tale where a walk along the Thames turns into a veritable nightmare and “The Raggy Girl”, a modern, disturbing ghost story revolving around a frightening apparition among the ruins of an old apartment building now being demolished.
A couple of stories are actually taking place overseas, such as the gloomy “The Coast Guard” set on the Baltic shore, hosting strange foxes and other horrific creatures.
The two highlights of the book are “Mara,” an excellent, dark tale of vampirism featuring a beautiful but deadly vixen and an equally dangerous gentleman, and the outstanding “Endor,”a powerful, intoxicating mix of witchcraft, eroticism and possession.
A warning to the potential reader: if you’re interested in this book hurry up and order a copy. As usual, Sarob Press volumes have a limited print run and become quickly unobtainable.
Here’s the complete Table of Contents.
“Downriver” — new to this collection
“In the Garden” — new to this collection
“Only the Dead know Deptford” (Supernatural Tales, #22, Winter 2012)
“Mara” (Conventional Vampires, 2003)
“The Extras” — new to this collection
“The Subliminals” (Supernatural Tales, #35 & #36, Summer 2017 and Winter 2017/18)
“Endor” (Delicate Toxins: A Collection of Strange Tales, 2011)
“The Whistle Thing” (The Ghosts & Scholars M.R. James Newsletter #33, April 2018)
“Redriff” (Supernatural Tales, #38, Summer 2018)
“The Raggy Girl” — new to this collection
“The Coast Guard” (Supernatural Tales, #16, Winter 2009)
“Those that Come from the Air” (Supernatural Tales, #10 2006)
“The Snow Queen” — new to this collection
Mario Guslandi was born in Milan, Italy, where he currently lives. He became addicted to horror and supernatural fiction (too) many years ago, after accidentally reading a reprint anthology of stories by MR James, JS Le Fanu, Arthur Machen etc. Most likely the only Italian who regularly reads (and reviews) dark fiction in English, he has contributed over the years to various genre websites such as Horrorworld, Hellnotes, The British Fantasy Society, The Agony Column and many more. His previous review for us was of Best New Horror #29 edited by Stephen Jones.