Celia Fremlin

By Horror Haunted

"Now everyone can enjoy this collection of deliciously dark jewels."


Collected here are fifteen short stories from the pen of this marvellous chronicler of the family dynamic. Fremlin perfectly describes the intricate relationships of mother and father, parent and child and friend to friend. All with a dash of acerbic wit whether the tale is one of ghostly manifestations with vengeful intent or a man's desire to keep his mistress as promising and unobtainable rather than have her as a dowdy wife, or a chilling tale of an empty house, but is it as empty as first thought?

Not all the stories in 'By Horror Haunted', the title taken from Poe's poem, 'The Raven', are attributed to ghosts, but this is definitely Fremlin's foray in to the Gothic.

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It is always a good sign that you remember a short story many years after reading it, as is the case with 'The Combined Operation'. This short, spooky tale raised the hair's on the back of my neck and despite remembering the outcome, it did exactly the same the second time around. It is pure genius and shows that Fremlin was competent to deliver not only a tale of suspense, but of horror, too. Fremlin never compromises her astuteness for observation to deliver a cheap thrill. Her most well-known ghost story, 'Don't Tell Cissie' is included here and when Fremlin describes the two women's love and frustration about their absent friend and you know full well that you too, have had the same conversation about a friend you know. It is a ghost story, but it is one with heart. The same could be said of 'Her Number On It' which is a love story that is given an added dimension as the past and present blur to bring a chilling and yet, beautiful tale of undying love. 'Place In The Sun' is one of those stories that makes you think days after finishing it, and sometimes you may even have to go back to it. So subtle and ambiguous is the ending that the story works whichever way you look at it. And that is what I love about Fremlin's short stories. They require input from the reader, they make you THINK! I cannot go through all the stories, but I cannot leave without mentioning 'The Intruder' which is a sublime Gothic gem and a masterclass in misdirection. For some reason this collection was always difficult to find as well as being uncomprehendingly expensive. Now everyone can enjoy this collection of deliciously dark jewels.

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