by Tara Moore (Editor)
Publication Date: January 1, 2016
Genre: Fantasy, Fiction, Historical
Publisher: Valancourt Books
The first-ever collection of Victorian Christmas ghost stories, culled from rare 19th-century periodicals
During the Victorian era, it became traditional for publishers of newspapers and magazines to print ghost stories during the Christmas season for chilling winter reading by the fireside or candlelight. Now for the first time thirteen of these tales are collected here, including a wide range of stories from a diverse group of authors, some well-known, others anonymous or forgotten. Readers whose only previous experience with Victorian Christmas ghost stories has been Charles Dickens’s “A Christmas Carol” will be surprised and delighted at the astonishing variety of ghostly tales in this volume.
My first thought as I started reading this – a story aimed at Victorian children – was that the writing shines a sorry light on the state of today’s education. I doubt many children today would be able to pass a reading comprehension quiz based on this story, purely based on the vocabulary. I could be wrong, but the writing here is certainly more sophisticated than that of most of today’s books aimed at adults.
How Peter Parley Laid a Ghost by Anonymous was better than Conan Doyle’s Captain of the Pole-Star; more interesting, amusing, and frankly, better written. But it’s still not a true ghost story; it’s a morality tale aimed at the folly of superstition. In this context, it’s a brilliant story; in the context of a spooky ghost story … not so much.