THE TrAVELLING BAG From Hill
released OUt NOW! 183 pages | Hardback/ebook Author susan Hill Publisher Profile books
In the mood for some old-fashioned ghost stories, the sort best enjoyed in front of a roaring fire on a cold winter’s night, perhaps with a large glass of brandy in one hand? Then The Woman In Black author Susan Hill’s latest collection might be, ahem, just your bag.
That’s particularly true of the titular tale, what with its Victorian gentlemen’s club setting and fustily phrased framing. Concerning a vengeful prank gone wrong, there’s something charmingly fogeyish about it, though the central premise makes precious little sense.
Haunting tale “Boy Number Twenty-One” moves in the same social sphere – a boarding school, a stately home – and evokes a similar sensation of mild disquiet. Best of the bunch is “Alice Baker”, which draws on that modern-day situation of the temp you never quite get to know. Both this and stepmotherfrom-hell story “The Final Room” rely on strange smells and an indefinable sense that something is somehow off. The result is an unshowy collection that, though unlikely to leave you fearfully pulling your bedclothes up under your chin, clammy with fear, has a nice line in quietly understated uncanny. Ian Berriman
“Number Twenty-One” was inspired by a teacher who went up the Eiffel Tower with 22 boys, and came down with 23…