As Phil Baker writes in his Introduction to this new edition of Cold Hand in Mine: ‘Robert Aickman (1914-1981) is increasingly esteemed as the most subtle and distinctive practitioner of the modern ghost story, or what he preferred to call the “strange story”: he edited eight collections of ghost stories for the publisher Fontana, but most of his own stories have no obvious ghost. Instead the “ghost story”—or strange story, or uncanny story—was for Aickman essentially “the story of rare sensations”: a genre “allied to poetry”.’
Contents: ‘Introduction’ by Phil Baker, ‘The Swords’, ‘The Real Road to the Church’, ‘Niemandswasser’, ‘Pages from a Young Girl’s Journal’, ‘The Hospice’, ‘The Same Dog’, ‘Meeting Mr Millar’ and ‘The Clock Watcher’.
Hello Ghouls and Boils,
Today I am going to talk to you about a Robert Aickman book published by Tartarus Press. As usual, it is a lovely book. It reminds me why I prefer a real book in my hands over an eBook any day. I will spare you my usual enthusiastic speech and simply say that Tartarus books are the finest I have ever had the privilege of holding in my hands…. now on to the review. Enjoy, my fiends!
Sarah L. Covert
This was my first experience reading anything by Robert Aickman. Let me simply say – WOW, my socks were knocked off! This book is filled with wonderful gems.
Our regular readers know how much I hate spoilers. It is quite difficult to talk about short stories without giving something away. Today I will talk about my two favorites, but don’t worry I won’t spoil it for you.
The first story in the book, “The Swords”, haunts me still. It was one of the most strange and horrifying tales I have ever read. The story begins with a young gentleman who stops at a carnival. He is drawn to a strange tent where he sees an act that seems impossible to him – a woman who is run through with swords and does not call out in pain. After that part of the show the barker offers the men in the audience the opportunity to kiss the woman. The young man leaves, he is later offered a private show with the woman by the man who ran the tent show. The young man accepts not knowing that he is in for the surprise of his life.
My second favorite story is the last one in the book, “The Clock Watcher”. A woman is obsessed with her clocks. She has a house full. Her husband patiently deals with her obsession, Though the neighbors were tiring of all the loud din on the hour. Then one day when he is told a strange tale by a strange man, and everything changes.
Though my two favorite stories are at the beginning and end of the book, but it is chocked full of great tales. I am glad I had the opportunity to read some Aickman. Now I will have to hunt down more of his stories. Tartarus has done it again! I give this book an ardent 5 out of 5 tentacles!
Sarah L. Covert – Creator/Editor/Reviewer/Columnist/Reporter