Acquired: Sent for review by Chicklish (original post can be found here)
Published: October 5th 2009, Bloomsbury
Pages: 272 pages, hardcover
Summary (from Goodreads): The spine-chilling third title in the brilliantly received series of ghost stories by Chris Priestley
My review: Before reading this version of Tales of Terror..., I’d already read and loved Chris Priestley’s earlier collection of short horror stories so was excited about jumping in with this volume. Fortunately, I wasn’t at all disappointed and this book definitely stands up well against Priestley’s previous books, perhaps even surpasses them.
Robert is on the train back to boarding school and, when the train pauses at the entry of a tunnel, a mysterious woman in white tells him stories to help pass the time. However, these aren’t the usual fairy tales we’d expect a child to be told. Instead, they are wickedly dark tales of terror that range from the obviously macabre (The Island) to the subtley terrifying (The Whispering Boy) but each is uniquely entertaining and a joy to read.
My personal favourite is A New Governess, a fantastic pastistche of James’ classic governess story, Turn of the Screw. What Priestley does with this tale, though, is take a well loved story and give it a twist (that came out before I realised what a terrible pun it is!) that manages to breathe new life into an old classic.
Honourable mention has to go to both The Little People and Gerald, for managing to seriously creep me out. Now, I love everything about the horror genre; there’s nothing I like more than a good scare and Priestley seriously delivers with this book. It’s impossible to get through this book without at least one chill dancing down your spine, especially when it comes to Gerald, which played on my mind long after I’d finished the book. I’ve always hated puppets but Priestley helped make the decision once and for all: they are truly, truly evil.
The only drawback with this book comes in the sections in between the tales, where Robert feels scared and the Woman in White apologises... but then proceeds to tell him another story that renders him even more terrified. It just all feels a little bit forced, as if Priestley was running out of ideas for linking the stories together. In my opinion they would have been just as strong if there hadn’t been a narrative linking them together.
Though saying that, the ending of the book is brilliant and not something I ever expected. It really shocked me but left me feeling satisfied and eager for Priestley’s next release, which I hope follows his trend of horror collections.