The Ghost Within ¦ The Shirt Off a Hanged Man's Back
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The Shirt Off a Hanged Man's Back
Two useful short story additions to secondary bookshelves; well worth including in lower/middle book collections.
The Ghost Within contains eight tales of fifteen pages or less, just right for reading aloud in a single lesson and adequately full of suspense and shadowy surprise. A past romance of a senile granny engulfs her grandson as the old lady in 'Dundee Cake' departs this life dreaming of happier times; Julia in 'The Pin' discovers witch-like powers that mitigate against her enemies and fatally against herself, whilst Matthew in 'The Fen Tiger' is the tragic victim of a bitter curse on his parents' decrepid small-holding; all the more tragic because his lifting of the curse renders him an imbecile and changes his family's prosperity for the better.
Dennis Hamley's collection of nine longer stories are less about the strange in ordinary things and more about the past visiting a powerful influence on the present - bare-fist pugilist Lanahan of the title story seeks the forgiveness of a young ancestor of the man he killed in a fight and to be buried in sacred ground; Brother Leofric seeks to remove the fiend of his medieval making from musically gifted Colin Chiltern in 'Hear My Voice'; whilst Alfie in 'Study Skulls' is drawn into a chilling flashback, which sets the record straight between two brothers, one dead and the other hell-bent to wreak vengeance. Of the two collections, these are marginally more demanding and possibly more suited to older readers.