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Richard Dalby – Chillers for Christmas

Posted by demonik on September 1, 2007

Richard Dalby (ed) – Chillers for Christmas (Michael O’Mara, 1989)

Clifford Harper

Foreword – Richard Dalby

Rudyard Kipling – The Strange Ride Of Morrowbie Jukes
Frank Cowper – Christmas Eve On A Haunted Hulk
Ernest R. Suffling – The Phantom Riders
Amelia B. Edwards – The Guard-Ship At The Aire
Anon [John Berwick Harwood] – Horror: A True Tale
G. A. Henty – A Pipe Of Mystery
George Manville Fenn – On The Down Line
Arthur Conan Doyle – An Exciting Christmas Eve
Guy Boothby – Remorseless Vengeance
Bernard Capes – The Vanishing House
Dick Donovan – The White Raven
Frank Frankfort Moore – The Strange Story Of Northavon Priory
William J. Wintle – The Black Cat
John Collier – Back For Christmas
Sarban – A Christmas Story
L. P. Hartley – The Waits
Shamus Frazer – Florinda
R. Chetwynd-Hayes – The Hanging Tree
Alexander Welch – The Grotto
Eugene Johnson – Just Before Dawn
Peter Tremayne – Buggane
John Glasby – The Uninvited
A. J. Merak – A Present For Christmas
Simon MacCulloch – The Deliverer
Roger Johnson – The Night Before Christmas
David G. Rowlands – On Wings Of Song
Jessica Amanda Salmonson – The Santa

Frank Cowper – Chistmas Eve On A Haunted Hulk: The narrator is forced to spend the night on a ship stranded on a mud bank off the south coast. An excellent ghost story in the tradition of Bulwer-Lytton’s The House And The Brain which is mentioned in the text.

Anon – Horror: A True Tale: Grim goings on in a Tudor mansion. The nineteen-year-old Rosa’s hair turns white and her entire life is ruined when, having been terrified by the grisley tales of an embittered aunt, Lady Speldhurst, she discovers that she is sharing her makeshift bedroom with an escaped lunatic, the chained man responsible for tearing apart several sheep and drinking their blood.

G. A Henty – A Pipe Of Mystery: India, last days of the Empire. In return for saving him from a man-eating tiger, a fakir gives Harley and Simmonds a pipe to smoke which gives them a glimpse into the future. Each has a premonition of a Sepoy mutiny in which many of their companions are massacred. When the uprising really does take place a few years later, both are able to escape due to their visions and Harley is even able to rescue the beautiful woman who will become his wife. “May happily had fainted as I lifted her on to my horse – happily, because the fearful screams we heard from the various bungalows almost drove me mad, and would probably have killed her, for the poor ladies were all her intimate friends.”

David G. Rowlands – On Wings Of Song: Each Christmas, schoolfriends Patterson and Chris present a toy theatre drama. Chris, unfortunately, doesn’t live to regret his decision to tackle Dracula casting a live mosquito as the bat by way of special effects …

Jessica Amanda Salmonson – The Santa: Michelle watches Santa playing outside in the snow on Christmas Eve night. She steps out in the blizzard to join in, but Santa’s disappeared and, looking back at the house she sees the Christmas tree ablaze and the curtains in flames. The house burns down and the firemen stumble upon Michelle buried in the snow. “Her blue legs and her blue arms stuck out from her yellow nightdress. Her eyes were frozen open and her face was pressed close to a ragged clownish doll.” Had the Santa tried to save her or did he torch her home?

Sir Arthur Conan-Doyle – An Exciting Christmas Eve: Far from being ‘exciting’ this is maybe the dullest tale in an otherwise worthy collection, IMO, Neither ghost nor horror, this one concerns an explosives expert who is kidnapped by anarchists.

Sarban – A Christmas Story: Set in Russia, this one centres around a Bison’s graveyard. Like the Conan-Doyle, it’s somewhat out of place in here although there’s a moment of horror when Alexander and his companion realise just what type of meat it is they’ve sustained themselves on these past few days.

George Manville Fenn – On The Down Line: The driver sees a spectral train running alongside, and is later crushed under the wheels of his own engine.

A. J. Merak – A Present For Christmas:”It’s horrible, Charles. Truly horrible. I’ve run here all the way from that accursed spot in the cemetery. The grave … all dug up and opened. But from the inside.”
Redforde near Exeter, West Country, early hours of Christmas morning. Anne Kirby’s sister died at birth. Twenty years later, on the eve of Annes engagement to Jonathan Weatherby, the doppelganger-like ghost rises from the grave to claim her twenty years in Annes body. Charles, the narrator, is the only one to realise that Anne has been possessed and informs the doctor of his suspicions, effectively sealing the old boy’s doom. He sets off to confront the demonic impostor.

Simon MacCulloch – The Deliverer: Yet another psycho Santa, this one the spectre of the insane Rev. Piper. Rather than leave loads of presents by the children’s beds, he carries six unfortunate little ones off in his sack.

L. P. Hartley – The Waits: The Marriner family are all set for Christmas with father feeling particularly smug with himself on account of there being one less expensive present to fork out for this year. That’s when the carol singers show up. Two of them, man and boy. And they’re very demanding – they even refuse Mr. Marriner’s tip as “not enough”. Also, those are not the correct words to God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen

R. Chetwynd-Hayes – The Hanging Tree: Christmas with the Fortesque family and friends, and the young, romantically inclined Movita is busy spinning fantasies around the family ghost, that of a young man who killed his lover then hung himself from a tree in the garden during the previous century. Her insistence that she’s seen him has the household despairing for her sanity, all save Miss Mansfield who realised Movita is psychic and inadvisedly intervenes on her behalf.

Another Victorian spook show, partly told from the point of view of the vampiric spectre.

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