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jenn

Murder by Death

I read cozy and historical mysteries, a bit of Paranormal/UF, and to mix it up, I read science and gardening books on occasion.

Alfred Hitchcock's Ghostly Gallery

Alfred Hitchcock's Ghostly Gallery: Eleven spooky stories for young people - Alfred Hitchcock

When I was a kid, there were a couple of Alfred Hitchcock anthologies on our shelves, but since Scooby Doo scared the crap out of me, I'd never really do more than take them off the shelve and stare at the covers.

 

Now I'm just about a hardened enough cynic to be able to finally read the stories and delight in them.  This one had a cover that looks vaguely Autumnal, which I needed for a challenge, and that was a good enough excuse. 

 

11 stories, most better than average.  The first one, Miss Emmeline Takes Off, was just purely delightful in that way it feels like authors today just never achieve.  I doubt it would have even scared little-kid me, and I further doubt it was written to be; I imagine my nieces giggling in delight over this one.

 

The Valley of the Beasts by Algernon Blackwood was, far and away, my favorite as an adult.  The writing was gorgeous and the plot, while incredibly simple, was a morality tale that never dates.  A lot of people today would read this and think "racist!!", as Blackwood's choice of character descriptions is revealing of the sensibilities of his time and age.  Those people would miss the forest for the trees;  I'd argue there's a definite satiric bent to his word choices, because it's the Native Canadian Indian that comes out of the story as hero, and the white Englishman who has a much deeper lesson about life and morality shoved (deservedly) down his throat.

 

The Haunted Trailer was the weakest of the collection for me; very meh.  As was The Truth About Pyecraft by H.G. Wells, though it has an ironic twist that's very Poe.  The Wonderful Day is another delight; the best of Karmic fantasy.  In a Dim Room won the kewpie doll for most unexpected ending.  It's short, abrupt and it works.  The Waxworks by A.M. Burrage is hands down the spookiest and would definitely have scared younger-me, as would The Upper Berth by F. Marion Crawford.

 

The final story is The Isle of Voices by Robert Louis Stevenson.  The plot didn't do that much for me, but the writing is wonderful.  Nothing scary about it either, for either now-me or then-me.  But it definitely made me curious about finally getting around to reading more of his work.