Jonathan Oliver’s latest collection of short stories manages to be unnerving in so many different ways. The authors he’s chosen have taken the theme of a haunting and while there are some highly traditional haunted house stories in here, some of the hauntings are more emotional or metaphysical.
Very unusually for this sort of pot-pourri, there isn’t a weak link among them – and some of the stories are likely to repeat at the back of your mind for days after reading. To single out specific stories will spoil the effect of reading them, but suffice it to say, some concentrate on those left behind after a death: why didn’t they die at the same time as their friends? What prevented them from being part of whatever was happening? Others are more obscure, as you wonder at the nature of the haunting that’s involved.
One of the tests of such an omnibus is whether it whets the reader’s appetite for further fiction by the same author, and while some of the names (Rob Shearman, Christopher Priest, Christopher Fowler) are well-known, there are others whose fan base will no doubt be increased after this volume is perused.
Verdict: Dim the lights, or light a candle – and prepare to be scared. 8/10
Edited by Jonathan Oliver
Solaris, out now.