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The Dead of Night: The Ghost Stories of Oliver Onions (Tales of Mystery & The Supernatural) Kindle Edition
"Children of Blood and Bone"
Tomi Adeyemi conjures a stunning world of dark magic and danger in her West African-inspired fantasy debut. Learn more
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Centerpiece here is “The Beckoning Fair One“, one of those endlessly reprinted stories that open themselves to nigh infinite amount of interpretations. This is psychological ghost story par excellence, up there with any of Aickman or de la Mare‘s best stories. It sets the stage for this whole collection, in its subtlety and slow pace, its ambiguity and collapsing distinction between inner and outer reality, its theme of artistic obsession…
Other stories of particular note are:
Phantas – a tale of time slip, or of a haunting told from the perspective of a ghost, or of man coming with terms with his death? Puzzling, haunting little story with superbly evoked dreamlike atmosphere.
Benlian – veritable crystallization of Onions‘ recurrent theme of obsessive artists and creative acts.
The Ascending Dream – three recurrences, in different eras, of same archetypal tale, displaying same contrast between masculine and feminine impulses.
The Rosewood Door – titular object is either a medium in the projection of animus, or in reunion of eternal soul-mates, or something else altogether. Whatever the case, there is a growing sense of inescapable tragedy, leading up to memorable finale.
The Accident – successful painter is haunted by his own anxieties and, perhaps, by his own life choices. Psychological study with no supernatural elements, one that is also something of a tribute to Decadent movement.
Io – story of a young woman given to dreaming contrasted with her fiance who appears to be this veritable incarnation of mundane modernity, this can also be seen as a tale of repressed artistic impulse seeking some form of outlet.
The Rope In The Rafters – inverted ghost story of sorts, with a perticularly bleak and tragic post-WW1 taste. Another excellent psychological study.
Resurrection In Bronze – comparable to Benlian, this is another striking tale of artistic obsession. Protagonist‘s single minded work is contrasted with her wife’s jealousy. Ultimately, they are united in his creative act, and her two-fold jealousy is satisfied, tho in this singularly tragic self-sacrificial manner. No overt supernatural elements here, but the entire artistic process is presented in this primordial magico-alchemical light.
Remaining tales that originated in „Widdershins“, as well as short novel „The Painted Face“ are also worthwhile. There are some dubious selections here, even more so since this collection would be of significant length even if some half of its contents were to be excluded. Onions can‘t be described as the easiest writer to read, compared to other weird fictionist from his time period, given the exceeding subtlety, slow pace and often novella-lengths of these stories. Unfortunate effect of this is that readers can easily grow tired of him, and end up skipping some of the better stories in this collection.
This is a great collection of 657 pages (27 stories) of all the ghost stories written by one of the best, OLIVER ONIONS.