Victorian Ghost Stories

Richard Dalby, Editor Carroll & Graf Publishers $18.95 (347p) ISBN 978-0-88184-473-3
These 20 stories and a poem, written between the 1830s and the very early 1900s, generally concern human protagonists dealing with souls in torment, which have become ghosts because they can find no peace, due to either their way of life or the manner of their death. In one of the best tales, Lanoe Falconer's ``Cecilia de Noel,'' a delightful household is thrown into confusion until a truly good woman helps a tormented spirit find God. In Elizabeth Gaskell's ``The Old Nurse's Story,'' the ghosts of a mother and child try to draw to them a young girl living in a manor house. Strictly speaking, ``Not to Be Taken at Bed-time'' by Rosa Mulholland is not a ghost story but rather concerns a grim and vengeful man who tries, through witchcraft, to force a woman to love him. Margaret Oliphant's ``The Open Door'' is another family tale of a tormented spirit set free, this time by a wise old clergyman. ``Let Loose'' by Mary Cholomondeley tells of an evil ghost loosed on a village, determined to kill. Individually, most of these stories are fun; but the tales' similarity can render them boring if not taken in small doses. ( May )
Reviewed on: 04/30/1989
Release date: 05/01/1989
Paperback - 347 pages - 978-0-88184-593-8
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