Back From The Dead: The Legacy of The Pan Book of Horror Stories
Selected by Johnny Mains,
Published by Noose & Gibbet, 2010.
The second part of the planned six part review of Back From the Dead is here and this time it’s stories all the way :-
5 – Acute Rehab by John Burke
John Burke was a regular contributor to the original series and it’s easy to see why with this short story. This dreamlike tale of a confused man following an accident is quite short but very powerful.
6 – Camera Obscura by Basil Copper
Basil Copper’s story Camera Obscura was published in 1965 in the 6th Pan Book Of Horror Stories and for many is one of the classics of the series. We meet Mr. Sharsted an uncaring moneylender on the way to Mr. Gringold’s house to recover a debt. The conversation is diverted though as Gringold shows Sharsted his pride and joy, a camera obscura, however, Sharsted sees more than he wants to. Reading this story again after a number of years its remarkable how it has stood the test of time. The prose is rich and descriptive, the plot clever and imaginative and the pacing excellent. In short it’s a classic horror story.
7 – The True Spirit by David A. Riley
A story of witchcraft, murder and ancient history transported to a cosy suburban couple. David A. Riley’s story is a bit of a slow burner, the first part is all pretty mundane but it’s necessary to set the agenda for the second half. Things soon perk up though and reach an incendiary conclusion.
8 – Angel by Jack Wainer
Jack Wainer’s story is, essentially, a love story. When a young girl meets an angel she forms an immediate attachment which over the years deepens into love. It’s a gentle fantasy with a distinctly romantic feel (after some unsettling initial moments) and enjoyable enough even if it doesn’t have the edge or bite of the other stories read so far.
Four more stories then and all enjoyable but it has to be said that the bar set by Basil Copper’s story was particularly high. It really whets the appetite for the forthcoming hefty anthology of his work being put together by PS Publishing (here). The stories are all very different and as such will appeal to different tastes but I found The True Spirit a bit slow for my tastes, although the end did make up for the slow start, and whilst Angel was not really my cup of tea, it’s well enough written.
Next week, another four stories including John Ware’s classic Spinalonga. In the meantime you can find out much more from publishers Noose & Gibbet Publishing here.