cover image Seven Strange and Ghostly Tales

Seven Strange and Ghostly Tales

Brian Jacques. Philomel Books, $15.99 (137pp) ISBN 978-0-399-22103-3

Ghost story aficionados may add yet another title to their increasingly crowded reading lists. This collection features seven original stories about the requisite apparitions, vampires and satanic incarnations, all spun with a distinctly English flair. Jacques's ( Redwall ; Mattimeo ) ethereal creations are tame when compared with the violence and gore often found in the genre. Despite a lack of blood, mysterious deaths and hauntings abound: Gilly Bodkin's soul will not rest until he gets some sweets; Thomas P. Kanne is embalmed and mummified while still alive. Chills and thrills are fewer than the book's title might suggest, and the author has infused his own brand of humor into tales about a vampire with a nagging mother and a compulsive liar who dares to tell a whopper to the devil. A few lengthy descriptive passages slow the pace, and a story focusing on an older woman's experience during WW II may be too sophisticated for younger readers, but this is still a good choice for flashlight reading under the covers. Ages 8-up. (Sept.)