Friday, November 19, 2021

Cornish Horrors - edited by Joan Passey

The Britsh Library Publishing catalogue turned up yesterday full of a whole lot of promise - there's some great looking stuff coming in the weird, crime classics and women's fiction series which mean that getting married isn't the only thing I'm excited about in the run-up to June next year (although it's the main thing, obviously).

It also reminded me that I had finished one of the three weird collections I'd been reading... 'Cornish Horrors' has been a particularly enjoyable anthology - everything in it has been new to me which is a bonus (I've read enough weird now from various sources to have seen a fair few things crop up with regularity) and really good. Cornwall as a place doesn't have any particular resonance for me beyond being the setting for Poldark so I did wonder if this collection would hold my interest. I needn't have worried.

It's not just that there's a selection of writers I know I'll enjoy, including F. Tennyson Jesse, Bran Stoker (in stories that have quite a bit in common but very different outcomes), F. Marion Crawford, Arthur Quiller-Couch, and Arthur Conon-Doyle, but they're great stories too. Bram Stoker can be patchy - but here he's just the right side of over the top and on the back of this I'll look for more of his short stories (and forget about dealing with the likes of the Lair of the White Worm again). 

F Marion Crawford's 'The Screaming Skull' might be one of the best bits of weird I've read in a while - which is saying something because there's been no shortage of competition. It's properly unsettling, pleasingly unlikely (thank god) mostly humorous, but comes with an ending that piles on the chills. 

There are other gems in here too, and a good deal of variety given the overarching Cornish theme and popular motifs that reappear through different writers work. It's half past four on a November afternoon as I write this, almost dark at the end of a gloomy day and quite the best time to be reading ghost stories and tales of the weird (with the possible exception of the long summer dusk of the north which is the other time and place I can believe almost anything). 


  1. 'Popular Romances of the West of England' by Robert Hunt, Cornish despite the title has some resonant bits...

    1. Thank you, will add it to the list of things to look up!

  2. Cornish Horrors? Really?! More for my TBR shelf.

    I took a Cornish course years ago and subsequently read some Cornish books. Resulted in the family and I taking a trip to Cornwall. Now I have to add this book to my list. Meur ras!