The Haunting Season

Published By: Sphere
Pages: 291
Released On: 12/10/2021

Winter, with its unsettling blend of the cosy and the sinister, has long been a popular time for gathering by the bright flame of a candle, or the warm crackling of a fire, and swapping stories of ghosts and strange happenings. Now eight bestselling, award-winning authors – master storytellers of the sinister and the macabre – bring this time-honoured tradition to vivid life in a spellbinding collection of new and original haunted tales.

*****

For someone with an overly anxious imagination, this book could have gone one of two ways. Luckily, it hit just the right amount of scary without keeping me up thinking the armchair was going to kill me.

The eight short stories are written by some of our best supernatural authors of our time. There’s Bridget Collins (The Binding and The Betrayal), Imogen Hermes Gowar (The Mermaid and Mrs Hancock), Kiran Millwood Hargrave (The Mercies), Andrew Michael Hurley (The Loney), Jess Kidd (Things in Jars), Elizabeth MacNeal (The Doll Factory and Circus of Wonders), Natasha Pulley (The Watchmaker of Filigree Street), and Laura Purcell (The Silent Companions and Shape of Darkness) who in my opinion, is the queen of gothic fiction.

I won’t go into detail about my general dislike of short stories – I’ve done that enough already – but I’m glad these weren’t full books. That’s not to say they’re not written well enough to sustain an entire novel. On the contrary. I don’t think my constitution would have held up for 200-300 pages; and by only giving us 30-odd pages, it means we get straight into the action and straight into the terror.

The stories cover a mysterious old house with an intriguing chess player, a haunted seemingly abandoned house, a lakeside terror, a young woman stuck between life and death, a country estate with a dreadful secret, a Christmas-time devil, a witch and a baby, and an historical find that will bring ruin.

These stories range from the worrisome to the anxiety-inducing to the down right scary. There’s a little something for everyone, whether you love all things horror, or you usually hide behind the sofa. It is posed as a book perfect for those long, dark winter nights; but if you’re anything like me, best wait until the nights get longer and there’s less shadows moving in the dark.

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