Friday, October 31, 2008
Stories for All Hallows Eve
Having stood up for All Hallows Eve as a legitimate time of spookification, it seems only right and proper to suggest some appropriate short stories and novels that deal with ghosts and other such creatures.
High Spirits, by Robertson Davies is a collection of ghost stories the celebrated Canadian novelist told at Christmas gatherings at Massey College, of which he was Master. These are humorous ghost stories, and among them can be found: "The Ghost Who Vanished by Degrees" about a truly perpetual grad student; "The Kiss of Khrushchev", in which a Russian bass finds himself under the evil eye; "The Cat That Went to Trinity" about a Frankencat; and "Einstein and the Little Lord" in which the ghost Little Lord Fauntleroy appears.
Expiration Date by Tim Powers is set in the streets and suburbs of modern Los Angeles, among the sub culture who trade in vials containing ghosts. If you inhale a ghost, you can experience in a rush the memories which compose this cast of shell of a soul which long ago left the world. A typical Tim Powers novel, Expiration Date describes a world shot through with the supernatural, yet imagined a way that leaves you wondering if this is indeed how the real world works.
Hobberdy Dick by Katherine Briggs is the best window on classic English superstition and folklore that you'll ever find -- perhaps not surprising as Briggs was a serious academic folklorist. The title character, a hobgoblin, is guardian of country manor, which has just been taken over by a Puritan family after its Cavalier owners found themselves on the wrong side of the English Civil War. Anyone with an interest in the real English folklore traditions, of hobs and lobs and grims and ghosts and witches, should read it.
Face In The Frost by John Bellairs begins so lightheartedly that one little imagines how seriously terrifying it will become at times as wizards Prospero (not that one) and Roger Bacon (that one) seek to find an enemy who seems to be bringing the world to an end. Though the novel definitely shows much of Bellairs characteristic humor (and background in writing mysteries and ghost stories for young readers) Face in the Frost holds up as adult reading as well.
Feel free to post your own suggestions in the comments.