When Jeremy Dyson is contacted by journalist Aiden Fox to uncover Britain’s hidden ghost stories, he embarks a hardened sceptic. As he sets off around the country he learns how the mundane can turn terrifying in an instant.
The success of many of these stories is the complete normality running up to the ghost encounter. One minute you’re reading about the minutiae of everyday lives and the next an edge of fear has crept into the text. The fear that a noise or a touch can bring is somehow much more real than monsters that lurk in the dark. Hardened horror fans may find the pace a little slow but I found several of the stories really gave me the creeps.
The Haunted Book is rather ambiguously marketed, presented as a collection of ghost stories from around Britain sourced by Dyson. It is left up to the reader to decide the truth but inevitably it becomes clear it if fiction masquerading as non-fiction. Even if you are inclined to believe in the stories themselves, the fact that there’s a book within a book, within a book would leave very little that could be genuinely attributed to Dyson.
Like many short story collections, there are hits and misses and I found myself skipping over a few. Yet there was always the feeling that you could turn the page to be confronted with something terrifying and the lack of it just adds a little to the tension. What really lifted the book for me was the end; hidden away in those black pages. If you are a book geek you will love it. Maybe every book should end that way!
The physical hardback is certainly one of those books that begs to be picked up. Indeed, when reading at my desk during lunch (because I’m a big wimp and need to read scary things in daylight) several people came and leafed through it. The designer has managed to replicate the old journal look perfectly.
The Haunted Book will be published by Canongate in hardback and ebook editions on 1st November 2012. Jeremy Dyson is better known as co-creator of The League of Gentlemen and the West End show Ghost Stories. Thanks go to the publisher for providing a copy for review.
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