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The Ghost Club: Newly Found Tales of Victorian Terror Paperback – December 1, 2017
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"The Ghost Club is a massively ambitious anthology of stories 'by' classic authors as imagined by the extremely talented William Meikle. Massively entertaining, too." - Simon Clark, author of the award winning The Night of the Triffids
"Masters of literature spin classic spooky tales in this chilling collection." - Scott Nicholson, author of The Red Church
"William Meikle is an audacious writer! In The Ghost Club he takes on the personalities of literary icons Bram Stoker, Arthur Conan Doyle, Jules Verne and the like and creates stories they might have told, mimicking their voices and writing styles. And he makes that work! I have too many favorites to name but as I read from start to finish, the stories just got better and better and I found myself as absorbed as if I were reading spooky tales told by these master storytellers. Kudos to Meikle! Lovers of traditional and quirky ghost stories need The Ghost Club in their library!"--Nancy Kilpatrick, Revenge of the Vampir King & Sacrifice of the Hybrid Princess
"Not only has the author displayed his knowledge of and love for the writers of yesteryear, but in creating 'The Ghost Club' our host has produced his own collection of unknown and previously unpublished short stories 'by' Robert Louis Stevenson, Rudyard Kipling, Leo Tolstoy, Bram Stoker, Mark Twain, H. G.Wells, Margaret Oliphant, Oscar Wilde, H. Rider Haggard, Helena P Blavatsky, Henry James, Anton Chekhov, Jules Verne and Arthur Conan Doyle. I say 'unknown', when I mean - of course - that all the stories are written by Mr Meikle in the style of the aforementioned authors; and the entire experience of reading this collection is like sitting with him in an old fashioned study, with a roaring fire, guttering shadows and a snifter or two of brandy as he unfolds his 'Ghost Club' tales. I thoroughly enjoyed the experience." - Stephen Laws
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So you can imagine how quick to grab this book and run. I may not have been so eager if I hadn't known the author was William Meikle. As anyone who has read his "Carnacki" books can attest, Mr. Meikle is very comfortable with writing in period language. From the very intro I was sucked in and, for the most part, I can say he does a fantastic job of recreating several different author's voices. The only ones that I'm not 100% sure on were the authors whose works I am not very familiar with such as Jules Verne, H.G. Wells and Rudyard Kipling. I always had trouble getting into his stories. I have liked a few but they just don't grab me and say, "Read me!"
I also loved the forewords to the book and the stories themselves. The foreword at the beginning has a cleverly worded paragraph about the dubious authenticity of the "find" that I thought was amusing. The forewords to the stories were great. They evoked each writer very clearly and were a nice way to shift the 'mood' between stories so the style changes were less jarring.
That being said, let's check out the stories, shall we?
Wee Davie Makes a Friend - Robert Louis Stevenson
I very much liked it. It was a bit sad but you could kind of tell where it was going to go. I also loved how William Meikle worked in Louis' own childhood experiences in 'The Land of Counterpane'.
The High Bungalow - 'Rudyard Kipling'
An enjoyable tale that centers around an interrupted rendezvous and an unexpected encounter with something rather unusual beneath a bungalow. It also ends, dare I say it? A bit clearer than some of Kipling's own tales did.
The Immortal Memory - 'Leo Tolstoy'
The Empress has summoned Captain Marsh for one reason...and one reason only. He must find her a Scotsman to repeat the works of Robert Burns into perfectly translated Russian. Should be a snap...I'm not familiar with Tolstoy's works so I'm not sure how faithfully the story is to his writing style but the story itself is a good one. It is true that an author can have immortality like no other
In the House of the Dead - 'Bram Stoker'
Bram Stokers shorter works have always been either/or with me. I loved 'The Judge's House'. This story evokes his writing style very well, including the epistolary style that Dracula is well-famed for. The story itself is quite beautiful. A story of love, loss, hope and, perhaps, reuniting.
Once a Jackass - 'Mark Twain'
It certainly has the dry wit and terseness of any story I've read of Twain's. He always seemed to me to write merely for the fun of a ghost story, not really trying to get down to the emotional depths that others plumbed. The concluding lines are funny in their own way and also, in their own way, could be applied to anyone at anytime.
Farside - 'Herbert George Wells'
I have never read much by H.G. Wells (no, not even War of the Worlds) so I'm not sure on how close the style is. A machine in which your aura is shown seems to be the crux of this tale and I won't say anymore as the ending is great. As is the rest of the story. Is it ghostly vengeance? Or something more?
To the Manor Born - 'Margaret Oliphant'
I thought this story was excellent and could have come from the pen of Ms. Oliphant herself. The more I read on the more I am impressed. Mr. Meikle is not just talented at pastiching writers, he can create stories in their voices. It might seem like mere imitation to be able to do that but I assure you, it is not. It takes a talent all its own and the ability to not just imitate another writer but to get within their mindset as well. I loved this story and although it's sad it kept me captivated until the end.
The Angry Ghost - 'Oscar Wilde'
I did think Oscar Wilde a bit of an odd choice. As far as I am aware the only supernatural writing he had ever done was 'The Picture of Dorian Gray' (if I'm wrong please point some out to me, new stories are always welcome!). Which, I have to admit, the first time I read it I didn't get past the first couple of chapters. I may give it a go again one of these days. The Angry Ghost is darkly funny and a brisk, to the point tale.
The Black Ziggurat - 'Henry Rider Haggard'
I have to be honest. I wasn't that enthused with this tale. I've never been one for adventure stories and I've read one or two of Haggard's work. Enough to know they're just not for me. Someone else might like this story a lot more because from the admittedly limited exposure I've had to his stories they do imitate his style quite well.
Born of Ether - Helena P. Blavatsky
A very good story taking a more unusual subject and blending it with a good ghost story. As far as I can tell the style seems somewhat consistent with what I've read of her Theosophy writings.
The Scrimshaw Set - 'Henry James'
What is it about chess sets? You wouldn't think something so prosaic and commonplace (and, some people might add, boring) would be able to summon up dread or horror but yet there are quite a few tales of chess sets - haunted, cursed or otherwise disagreeable. Meikle, with a superb rendition of James' sometimes prolix writing conjures up a tale of a haunted chess set with a most unusual apparition. Definitely not to miss.
At the Molenzki Junction - Anton Checkov
I'm not really sure if I have ever read anything by Anton Checkov so I can't speak to style but if this story is representative of his real stories I am certainly going to be looking him up.
To the Moon and Beyond - 'Jules Verne'
This story was a bit more of a mix of fantasy and sci-fi (to me at least) and although it was interesting I did catch myself skimming certain parts. Not high on my list of favorites from the book but someone else may like it much better than I.
The Curious Affair on the Embankment - 'Arthur Conan Doyle'
The book winds up its tales with a story from Arthur Conan Doyle, the same writer who has been providing the introductions to the tales. With Lestrade at its center (we all know Mr. Holmes would sneer at the thought of magic) it's a very good Holmesian tale of magic. And it's nice to see Lestrade not presented as the bumbling ijit so many modern Holmes writers portray him as.
To wrap it up, these are some very fine stories and William Meikle does a very good job of trying to create the voices of each author. As I said, no small feat. I do have to question the inclusion of Blavatsky and Wilde as there were many other lady Victorian writers who I think would have been great to see represented here. In fact, it would be interesting to see what Mr. Meikle could do sticking strictly to writers such as Mary Wilkins Freeman, Edith Nesbit and so on. Maybe we'll get lucky and get another Ghost Club anthology.
Received from Crystal Lake Publishing for an unbiased review
Subtitled "Newly Found Tales of Victorian Terror," this collection will delight fans of subtle horror, aficionados of literary horror, and readers who long for the days of the exceptional storytellers of the lost Victorian Era. Authors such as H. G. Wells, Kipling, and Twain held literary audiences spellbound. Round table storytelling also excelled, in which authors read or recited their own compositions. Similar gatherings constituted collections such as William Hope Hodgson' s excellent Carnacki tales (a character Mr. Meikle has also expanded). Here are fourteen "new" tales "newly" come to light, as by fourteen well-known, revered, authors of the Victorian period. Scare yourself silly, enjoy how each story suits itself to its author personage, and acclaim the gifted William Meikle, whose talents brought us these tales.
The publisher generously provided a digital ARC at no cost or obligation. I opted to review this book.
William Meikle has not only offered up 14 lost tales by this illustrious group, he has done something that raises him to a "Victorian Voice" in his own right, and surely an honorary member welcome to his place with them. No author has the talent to give voice to the dearly departed quite like Mr.Meikle. The man has a full blown author seance in his head. He even gave me pause with authors I consider myself wholly familiar with.
THE GHOST CLUB more than earns it's place next to the classics on any horror purist's book shelf, William Meikle has earned a place with the authors of those classics.
A magnificent collection of dark delights.
Highest possible recommendation.