Supernatural Short Stories

Charles Dickens. Alma/Alma Classics (Trafalgar Sq., dist.), $12.95 trade paper (300p) ISBN 978-1-84749-227-2
Dickens’s tales of the eerie, full of ghosts, supernatural creatures, and possibly intoxicated hallucinations, are grouped together in this spooky and occasionally humorous collection. The first three tales, from the serial The Pickwick Papers, are the most entertaining: a lusty magical chair protects a widow from marrying the wrong man, goblins lead a miserable gravedigger to redemption, and a drunken storyteller falls in love with a spirit. “No. 1 Branch Line: The Signalman,” a spine-tingling tale of a train signalman who is warned by a spirit of his own doom, and “To Be Read at Dusk,” in which men—who may be ghosts—tell stories of mysterious premonitions, also stand well on their own. Others tales suffer from lack of context, particularly “The Haunted House,” which Dickens wrote as part of a multi-author collection of interconnected ghost stories. Dickens’s supernatural stories have been collected before, and this volume, which includes notes on the author and his work, is geared toward the classroom rather than the casual reader. Still, fans of Poe and gaslamp fantasy may find a new tale or two to love. (June)
Reviewed on: 04/01/2013
Release date: 05/01/2013
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