cover image Night Side of the River

Night Side of the River

Jeanette Winterson. Grove, $27 (320p) ISBN 978-0-8021-6151-2

Winterson (Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal?) delivers a memorable collection of ghost stories, interspersed with snippets of her own supernatural encounters. While there is some exploration of how spirits might inhabit new technology—in “App-Arition,” one woman’s dead husband visits her through an app on her phone—most of the stories take place in more traditional settings: a creaky manor house, a castle with a tragic past, an eerie London home. Standouts include “A Fur Coat” and “Boots,” a pair of back-to-back stories that tell his and hers versions of one couple’s harrowing winter at the “unlived-in, run-down” Crashley Estate. Max discovers a fur coat in a wardrobe and later hears a phantom baby crying at night, while her partner, Jonny, is approached by a spectral gamekeeper with an unsettling tale about the house’s former inhabitants. Many of the protagonists “live alone” because they “prefer it,” a proclivity that seems to leave them vulnerable to otherworldly visitors. Winterson includes four personal essays of her paranormal experiences, the final of which, “The Future of Ghosts,” sees Winterson raising intriguing questions about the “haunting” of the metaverse: “If you enjoy a friendship with someone you have never met, would you know if they were dead?” These supernatural tales are satisfyingly disconcerting. (Oct.)