The Fantastic Side of An Irish Queen of Fiction: A Vanished Hand and Others by Clotilde Graves, 2021
A Vanished Hand and Others (Swan River Press, October 2021). Cover by Brian Coldrick
Clotilde Graves (1863-1932) was an eccentric, prolific and eclectic Irish writer whose historical novels were published under the pen name Richard Dehan. As Clo Graves she also published a number of fantastic stories, most of which are now reprinted and collected in a volume from Swan River Press, edited and introduced by Melissa Edmunson.
The book assembles thirteen tales showing Graves’ contribution to what we call now speculative fiction, ranging from the ghostly to the horrific, from the paranormal to the downright supernatural.
Although occasionally a bit convoluted to the eyes of today’s readers, her writing style is always effective and extremely captivating.
Among the various stories included, some are especially worth mentioning.
“Lilium Peccatorum” is an offbeat tale about a strange plant endowed with a strong, not too pleasant smell, exerting untoward effects on people’s behavior, while “ The Mother of Turquoise” is a dark, exotic supernatural story depicting old deities, hidden treasures and the consequences of uncontrolled human greed.
In the very entertaining “Clairvoyance” a fake clairvoyant is exposed by a smart client.
“How the Mistress Came Home” is a traditional ghost story, rather predictable yet quite enjoyable, while “ Dark Dawn” is yet another supernatural tale revisiting the theme of the dead soldier coming back in spirit to briefly visit, as promised, his beloved fiancée.
The best piece in the book, by far, is the title story “A Vanished Hand” a superb ghost story in which a woman dead for fifteen years, returning from beyond the grave to visit her former lover, discovers that love can hardly survive the passing of time.
A Vanished Hand and Others was published on October 31, 2021. It is 224 pages, priced at €35.00 in limited edition hardcover and €20.00 in paperback. Read all the details and order copies directly from The Swan River Press.
My sister gave me a copy of Shadow Voices for Christmas, an anthology of Irish supernatural fiction, spanning 300 Years. So far I’ve just dipped into it, but there’s one story in it by Clotilde Graves – A Spirit Elopement. I’ll definitely check it out!
That story is also included in the present collection. Not one of her best tales, in my opinion.