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Coldwood: The Haunted Man and Other Tales by A.M. Shine
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Real gothic darkness haunts these pages which overflow with stories of madness and murder all within the confines of that strange town of Coldwood. It has everything you could desire, from a lunatic asylum, to neglected mansions and abandoned churches, all set against a backdrop of savage snowstorms, strange red mists and lowlands across which wolves roam. The inhabitants of the town live up to their setting and display strange habits, obsessions and twisted desires, much of which directly leads them back to the Asylum. The stories interlinked unobtrusively and wove the community together, the quality of each matching its neighbours. I would select however, A Wolf at the Door, as my personal favourite for its portrayal of madness and self-deception.
Gothic literature for me, when written well, is a delight because of the language it uses, and here words from the past pepper the pages to create a richness not seen in many modern tales, this makes me happy - even if it is describing a suicide or wolves ripping their victim apart. Poe is the master of this tradition but this anthology is a wonderful homage to the genre. Recommended reading, particularly on a winter's evening with dusk drawing in and a fire crackling in the hearth.
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