Book Review – The Haunting Season: Ghostly Tales for Long Winter Nights

books, reviews

Rating: 3 out of 5.

The weather is getting colder and the nights are getting darker. That means it’s the perfect season for reading thrillers and spooky stories. When I was younger, I was a scared little thing. I freaked out over anything scary. My sisters still make fun of me for it to this day. Although, I maintain that the creepy eyes in The NeverEnding Story are terrifying. I remember we had a cassette tape with ghost stories on them. Suffice it to say that I wasn’t a huge fan. Not that it traumatised me too much. The only thing I remember about it is something about a pig man and I only remember that because there was awful squealing on the tape. But I digress. I’ve definitely got better with scary stuff as I’ve got older. Ghost stories aren’t my top genre but I’ll give them a go.

I’m not really sure what I expected from this book. I’m not a big ghost story fan and I never enjoy short stories as much as full-length novels. So, it’s weird that this book was even on my radar. If it hadn’t been for the amazing mix of authors in this collection then I probably would have ignored it. It’s not that I get too scared by the stories but more that I’m too cynical to fully engage with them. I can never immerse myself in the terror. It also doesn’t help that my brain doesn’t do a great job of creating the scenes in my head when I read. So, I’m always too far removed from the tales to really enjoy the terror.

It’s not that I think the stories in this collection were badly written. The writers are all very talented and I think there is some genuinely good stuff here. The problem is that I can’t really remember many of the stories. A good ghost story should stick with you long after you’ve read them. They should, for lack of a better word, haunt you. I didn’t find many of these to be particularly disturbing. I don’t think it helped that they were homages to classic Victorian ghost stories. The pastiche started to feel like a parody, which made it harder to take it seriously.

Still, there was some genuinely lovely writing no matter how successful or unsuccessful I found the ghostly elements. As with every other short story collection, there were some standouts and some more forgettable ones. My favourites were ‘Confinement’ by Kiran Millwood Hargrave, ‘The Chillingham Chair’ by Laura Purcell and ‘The Hanging of the Greens’ by Andrew Michael Hurley. The others just didn’t do much for me. They were fine but just not my thing. I especially felt as though I was missing out on something reading Natasha Pulley’s ‘The Eel Singers’ because I’ve not read her other books.

Of course, my lack of enjoyment might have been higher because I listened to the audiobook. Maybe I needed to read them to feel engaged? But listening just feels more appropriate with ghost stories. There are some interesting aspects to each of these tales but I wouldn’t say that it was the spooky read that I’d hoped for.

7 thoughts on “Book Review – The Haunting Season: Ghostly Tales for Long Winter Nights

      1. Thank you but I’d definitely go mad with power quite quickly. I’m not talking ‘murdering my enemies’ mad with power but there’d be plenty of unpopular choices! 😆

        Liked by 1 person

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