Ten Short Tales About Ghosts,
by K. C. Parton
Publisher: Matador Self-Publishing
196 pages, eBook
Published: 19th June 2014
After reading this collection I considered wether there was any significance to the chosen title Ten Short Tales About Ghosts as opposed to Ten Short Ghost Tales. I’m not sure as to an actual answer, but it did get me thinking in conjunction to my feelings about the collection overall. Namely that it truly is composed of stories about something, rather than being that thing itself.
In other words, the stories here are pastiche (even derivative), written with inspiration from – and in conscious homage to – classic English ghost stories in the vein of M.R. James (a writer who also inspired John Bellairs, one of my favorite Gothic children’s book authors). Parton’s stories are really about these old classic stories, they are not particular novel in their own right.
The real consideration to make if deciding to read this collection, then, is whether one is looking for stories that are hauntingly familiar and warming in a nostalgic way, or if true chills from unexpected directions are sought.
The ten tales (and one ‘bonus’ poem) here are hit-or-miss, though some will likely resonate with readers depending on their recollection of similar classic tales. The Last Train and The Heinkel were both relatively notable as well done homages. I personally found The Reader to be the most compelling story in the collection, familiar yet eerie and a worth James homage. I also enjoyed the opening story with the uncertainty (at least briefly) of whether the ghost was really present or not. This opening tale rung familiar in its similar tone to something out of the Scary Stories To Tell in the Dark children’s series.
The enjoyment of nostalgia faded rapidly, however, through stories that continued in similar charted territory with very little diversity from what would find in those classic English ghost stories of a hundred years past. Taken in smaller sips in a different environment than the airport where I read this may have altered my appreciation of the stories, but I found myself rapidly losing interest in their routine familiarity.
Two-and-a-Half Stars out of Five
Disclaimer: I received a free advanced electronic reading copy of this from the author via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.