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An English Ghost Story
Kim Newman
Titan Books, 304 pages

An English Ghost Story
Kim Newman
Kim Newman was born in London in 1959 and, shortly thereafter, his parents moved to the village of Aller, in Somerset. By 15, he had written his first novel. He graduated from the University of Sussex where he studied English. Moving to London, he joined the Sheep Worrying Theatre Group, at the Arts Centre, Bridgwater. He continued to write as a film reviewer and critic, and his short stories were appearing in magazines like Interzone. In 1985, his non-fiction first book appeared, co-authored with Neil Gaiman, called Ghastly Beyond Belief: The Science Fiction and Fantasy Book of Quotations. His first published novel was The Night Mayor in 1989. His awards include the Bram Stoker Award, British Science Fiction Award and the International Horror Critics' Guild Award for Best Novel.

Kim Newman Website
ISFDB Bibliography
SF Site Review: Andy Warhol's Dracula

A review by Sandra Scholes

Kim Newman has had a career that stemmed from writing short stories for various magazines, then onto supernatural horror novels such as the Diogenese Club series, Jago, The Quorum, Life's Lottery and Professor Moriarty: The Hound of the D'Urbevilles. He has co-authored work with the likes of Neil Gaiman and written non-fiction books on the history of popular cinema.

Steven and Kirsty Naremore go house hunting in the hopes of getting away from their troubles and start anew with their son and daughter, Tim and Jordan. The home they first viewed was a run-down overgrown place they considered a 'long shot.' It is the one place they might never think of buying as it would take a lot of renovation. Jordan doesn't like it or the site it is on, comparing it to being: "like an extermination camp for cows." The new house being situated on a farm made it desirable, yet it looked shabby enough to be disliked too. The newest one is called the Hollow and gets called a dream home by Jordan. Formerly Hollow Farm, it has been traced back to the Middle Ages before the fields were sold to a local farmer in the nineteenth century when it became the Hollow. The Hollow seems like the perfect home; it has an orchard, a cider press, a secret room and an amazing view of Glastonbury Tor. The house had a former occupant, Louise Magellan Teazle, a writer of children's books; a story is in the second chapter and tells of the various ghosts and spirits that inhabit the house.

Weezie and the Gloomy Ghost is an upbeat tale that tells readers more of what lies beyond in the Naremore's new home. It is a pity the Naremores had not read the book as they might have had second thoughts about moving in, then again, a parcel arrives at the Hollow and Kirsty opens it, finding a fresh copy of Weezie and the Gloomy Ghost, thumbing though it thinking even though it is based on the house, it is a work of fiction. Soon she discovers the book could have some truth in it. The story starts in spring and goes through summer to autumn with short stories in between the chapters that go further back each time starting with Louise Magellan Teazel's short story, to exceptional Ghost Stories of the West Country by Catriona Kaye and a snippet from the Journal of a Victorian Gentlewoman. The point of this is to gradually show the reader just how haunted their new house is, and what they might have to do about it if they want a future there.

If readers have already read Newman's short stories and novels, they will already know his interest in films and cinema and his sense of humour that tends to creep into his work. The book is one of the only things that the new owners see as part proof of the ghostly events in the Hollow. A strange visit from Mr Wing-Godfrey, the president of the Louise Magellan Teazle Society alerts Kirsty to an alarming fact; he wants to turn their home into a rearranged shrine for Teazle fanatics, yet she feels that something about him is not quite right. An English Ghost Story is many things, funny, endearing, scary, it is a great mix of unearthly facts on an earthly house the Naremores want desperately to call home. Kirsty's investigation of the past owners reveals more than she expected. Newman has crafted a novel part modern story; part children's story and part look back at several past generations. It's a treasure of modern ghost storytelling.

Copyright © 2014 Sandra Scholes

Over the past few months on SF Site Sandra's work has been published, and she has also had her work on Hellnotes, Fantasy Book Review, the British Fantasy Society website and Albedo One...oh and some saucy stuff on Love Romance Passion and Rainbow Book Reviews.

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