[Editor’s Note: From the Other Side is Paul Kincaid’s monthly column on books and news from the other side of the Atlantic. For these installments, my apologies to all for the extreme lateness of publication. The fault is entirely mine.]
From the Other Side, October 2016
By Paul Kincaid
It’s Halloween, so where are all the ghost stories? Well, one of the most intriguing collections of haunting new tales, with contributions by Nina Allen, Tade Thompson and K.J. Parker among others, doesn’t come out until December. I suppose a ghost story for Christmas is as much of a tradition as a ghost story for Halloween; but still, one does sometimes wonder at the ways of publishers. Still, there are plenty of other ghostly tales to keep us awake as the nights draw in. For a start, there’s Susan Hill, who has become one of the most reliable authors of disturbing tales ever since she wrote The Woman in Black, which seems to have had more of an afterlife than any other ghost story since Charles Dickens. This year she presented us with The Travelling Bag (Profile), which brings together four creepy tales: a psychic detective’s most memorable case; a mother trying to protect her child, even from beyond the grave; a childhood friend met again in unlikely circumstances; and the disruption caused by the arrival of a new office worker.
There is more haunting business in Thin Air by Michelle Paver (Orion), in which a 1930s expedition to climb Kanchenjunga find it’s not just the elements they have to battle, but something rather more disturbing. Meanwhile there’s a rather more cavalier take on horrors of the past in Angels of Music by Kim Newman (Titan), in which the Phantom of the Opera has become the mastermind behind a team of female agents (they include Irene Adler, for instance) who investigate crimes and horrors that the French government would prefer to keep secret. It’s a rather gleeful rip-off of Charlie’s Angels with a selection of fictional characters all set in a Paris that never existed. Continue reading