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The Dead of Night: The Ghost Stories of Oliver Onions (Tales of Mystery & the Supernatural) - Oliver Onions For some reason, these Wordsworth collections of old ghost stories often take me many months to read, probably because they are quite intense and sesquipedalian that reading any more than one or two stories together get's a bit much. Taken in small doses though, they are deeply enjoyable.

Oliver Onions, as an English writer of ghost stories in the early twentieth century, one might be inclined to compare him to M. R. James. In terms of quality and subtlety they are indeed of a kind but there the similarity ends. Onion's had by far a greater range in his work. As well as the more conventional ghost stories, he explored many other aspects of the supernatural and weird. For me, this sets him above James, controversial as this assertion might seem.

I particularly enjoyed the famous "Beckoning Fair One", a disturbing tale of a haunting by a possessive female ghost that warps the mind of her victim. "Rooum" is a weird story of a man pursued by an invisible runner that when runs through him, causes him a wrenching pain. In "Benlian" the narrator falls under the spell of a sculptor who is trying to literally put himself into his work. "Hic Jacet" explores the tension between artistic integrity and commercialisation and whether they can ever be reconciled. In "Real People", the characters in an author's novel begin to take on a life of their own. "Resurrection in Bronze" is about how much one might be prepared to give up for their art. As you can see, the artist (in various mediums) is often the focus of his stories.

I didn't enjoy all the stories herein but this is a real bumper volume containing (apparently) most of the writer's work in a supernatural vein. There are bound to be some weaker tales. But by and large, there are some real gems that made this a great collection to read.