all hallows read, Autumn Christain, bizarro, Ecstatic Inferno, goth, gothic, halloween, Helen Oyeyemi, horror, jeremy dyson, michael arnzen, mike arnzen, sherlock holmes, The Haunted Book, the league of gentlemen
Today’s pretentious book club pictures were brought to you from The Sherlock Holmes pub in London, near Trafalgar Square. It’s the most wonderful time of the year! The night when the whole world as one raises the dead and eats so many sweeties (candy) that we glow iridescent with e numbers.
I’m sorry that I can’t send these out to you personally as you’re supposed to do for All Hallows Read. However maybe you can pass them on to someone else next year after purchasing them this year. Let’s begin!
As well as being a member of The League of Gentlemen and a playwright and author, Jeremy Dyson is a big fan of Robert Aickman (as am I). This is definitely noticeable in this themed collection of ghostly weird tales, which is a fictional account of a journey across the UK to collect local scary stories. Like Robert his stories are often not spelled out, leaving the reader to draw their own conclusions about what happened and why. It’s very clever, atmospheric and genuinely creepy.
You’d be forgiven for thinking this was a nice children’s book about a married couple who are foxes, but it’s not. There are barely any real foxes.
I found Helen Oyeyemi‘s book very exciting simply for the way it bent my mind. Was it a collection of short stories? Not really. A novel with a single, flowing narrative? Well, no…
Mr Fox is an author who kills off all his female leads, and Mary Foxe is a character of his whose head he chopped off (there are many references to the Bluebeard fairy tale). Or perhaps she was his real wife whose head he chopped off? The pair of them imagine various scenarios in which she’s a romance novelist, a florist, a model and many more, the stories getting darker and stranger but always beautiful.
Helen Oyeyemi manages to take an idea that was cliche by the time it appeared on The Twilight Zone, a character speaking to it’s creator, and turn it into something I don’t think I’ve ever seen before. My brain crackled like popping candy and I think yours will too.
These flash horror stories are deviously good fun. Split into sections covering the different aspects of horror (gory, supernatural etc) they often don’t become clear until you’ve thought about it for a few moments, and then you’ll be pondering them for quite a while afterwards.
If you have a spare few minutes you can dip into any section and read a tiny story, or sit down for hours and read lots in one go.
These short stories are very beautifully written and there were so many sentences that made me green with envy. They span science fiction, fantasy and horror, but each tale has a dark Gothic magic behind it.
You’ll find Siamese (conjoined) twins navigating their sexuality, something happening to the children of an earth colony on a cold, barely inhabitable planet, Gods running the government and much more. Nicely creepy and very intelligent.
Ta dah! Have a wonderful Halloween and try not to eat too many sweets (who am I kidding, stuff yourselves silly).