The Ghost Club: Newly Found Tales of Victorian Terror by William Meikle
Crystal Lake Publishing (December 2017)
189 pages; $11.44 paperback, $3.99 e-book
Reviewed by Frank Michaels Errington
I love everything about this wonderful collection from Willie Meikle. Take the concept of Willie’s Carnacki collections and replace the dinner guests with the literary greats of the Victorian era, each sharing a ghost story, and there you have the basic premise for this new work from William Meikle.
Don’t get confused, these are not newly discovered works by these authors. All fourteen stories are written by Meikle writing as these legendary authors.
“Wee Davie Makes a Friend by Robert Lewis Stevenson”—A wonderfully entertaining story to start the collection. Tragic in many ways, but great nonetheless.
“The High Bungalow by Rudyard Kipling”—Another cool tale, this one about a haunted Masonic lodge.
“The Immortal Memory by Leo Tolstoy”—Empress Yekaterina Alexeyevna calls Captain John Marsh to an audience at her court and commands him to find a Scotsman who is able to recite the works of the Scottish poet Robert Burns in Russian. Marsh is to present him at a party that very night. The events that follow are decidedly unexpected.
“In the House of the Dead by Bram Stoker”—Reminiscent of one of Meikle’s Carnacki stories. If you lost the love of your life, to what lengths would you go to be with her again?
“Once a Jackass by Mark Twain”—I’ve long been a fan of Mark Twain and here Meikle has really captured the essence of one of his many tales. Set upon the majestic Mississippi river, this is one of my favorite stories in the collection.
“Farside by Herbert George Wells”—This entry could have easily been in one of the author’s Carnacki collections. The story of a man named Hoskins who has invited a number of friends to dinner to display his latest invention, which has a curious side effect.
“To the Manor Born by Margaret Oliphant”—“It was hard to grow up in a small town in Scotland and not hear at least one, if not a handful, of tales of kin who came back, of lost loves pining in the afterlife, of fishermen coming home for one last kiss. Her childhood had been full of such tales, most of them more capable of frightening her than this sad, disembodied, song.”
“The Angry Ghost by Oscar Wilde”—An absolutely delightful story with a cute kicker.
“The Black Ziggurat by Henry Rider Haggard”—Another impressive and imaginable tale, this one set in Kenya.
“Born of Ether by Helena P. Blavatsky”—An odd yet enjoyable ghostly tale in the style of an author I am totally unfamiliar with.
“The Scrimshaw Set by Henry James”—So cool. An exquisitely told tale of a haunted chess set. One of my favorite stories in a book full of such works.
“At the Molenzki Junction by Anton Checkov”—A Winter quest for vodka encounters both wolves and a ghostly presence.
“To the Moon and Beyond by Jules Verne”—A wonderful opening line: “Ever since man first looked up at the night sky, he has wondered about the moon, that great white lady who circles us constantly, like a predator circling its prey, merely waiting for a weakness so that it may pounce.” Once again Meikle manages to capture the style and feel of the author he writes as in this standout tale.
“The Curious Affair On the Embankment by Arthur Conan Doyle”—Surprisingly this is NOT a Sherlock Holmes story, although it takes place in that same world. Here Scotland Yard’s Detective Lestrade solves a mystery involving the disappearance of a number of successful young women.
There are a number of solid reasons to add The Ghost Club to your reading list. For example, you love a good ghost story, or maybe you’ve read and enjoyed Meikle’s Carnacki tales, or perhaps you’re a fan of Victorian terror, or maybe you just enjoy a good read. Whatever your reason, happy reading.