Whistling Past the Churchyard: Strange Tales from a Superstitious Welshman

Jon Ewbank Manchip White, Author Atlantic Monthly Press $21 (227p) ISBN 978-0-87113-487-5
Colorful Welsh superstitions, legends and even a couple of genuine apparitions haunt this volume of 17 short stories set among picturesque Welsh islands, streams and castles, with side trips to Africa, Asia and the U.S. Veteran author White ( Mask of Death ) uses an impressive array of narrative voices to evoke a wide range of moods, from funny and romantic to chilling. In one of the more gripping tales, ``The Ruby Fly,'' the protagonist's crazed battle with a terrifying insect can also be read as a struggle with his failed dreams and conscience. In ``The Rowans,'' two men find happiness only when a spell is broken by mistake. Foul play will out in such effective though rather conventional horror pieces as ``The Crimson Shamrock'' and ``The Catch,'' while the five stories yoked together in ``Crawlers'' ring interesting changes on the classic tales-around-a-campfire framework. Platitudes pop up here and there--love summons benign spirits, jealousy wreaks havoc--but White always gives them intriguing psychological twists, vividly creating lifelike characters in a realistic setting. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1992
Release date: 01/01/1992
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