Thursday, February 23, 2023

Haunters At The Hearth - edited by Tanya Kirk

Yes, this is me catching up with my Christmas reading at the end of February. What of it, books are nothing if not for life. It's also part and parcel of working retail that the time to relax and enjoy Christmas things is well after the event, which is how I came to be eating panettone for breakfast yesterday. 

Haunters at the Hearth may be subtitled Eerie Tales for Christmas Nights but genuinely it's not just for Christmas, are particularly Christmas heavy - although the feel of all the stories is distinctly wintery. It's also every bit the excellent selection I've come to rely on from Tanya Kirk (all the BL anthologies with her name on are favourites, and well worth having) who excels at putting together a set of stories that balance the genuinely disturbing with something more light hearted. 

Mildred Clingerman's The Wild Wood for example, really made my skin crawl, but Celia Fremlin's Don't Tell Cissie which finishes off the collection was a delight - mostly funny with a twist at the end that makes it more than just funny. There's a D. H. Lawrence that confirms a 30 year antipathy towards D. H. Lawrence which dates from an A level English teacher telling us that nobody understood women like Lawrence, he absolutely refused to accept that actual women might disagree with his assessment. 

My personal dislike of  D. H. Lawrence aside the whole collection is gem after gem - and again makes me wish that the habit of reading ghost stories aloud on winter nights was still a thing (these need to be available as audio books). Some of these are crying out to be performed. 

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