M. Y. HALIDOM – The Woman in Black. Ash-Tree Press, 2007. Introduction by Richard Dalby.

HALIDOM The Woman in Black

   This vampire novel was first published in 1906, and is another in this Canadian publisher’s series of vintage supernatural fiction. “The Woman in Black” is a glamorous seductress, leaving more than broken hearts in her chilling wake. The novel borders, at times, on the edge of parody, but was certainly worth resurrecting, although its audience is undoubtedly a limited one.

   The series is often chiefly distinguished by its scholarly introductions. That is certainly the case here, as Richard Dalby traces the life and career of a forgotten writer with his characteristic grace. He does go a bit far, however, in claiming this to be a forgotten “gem.” A gem it may be, but hardly one of great price or quality.

RON WEIGHELL – The Irregular Casebook of Sherlock Holmes. Calabash Press, 2000.

   This collection of five Holmes pastiches carries the celebrated detective and his companion and historian Dr. Watson into the realm of the weird and the fantastic, a subject for which Holmes had little patience.

   The stories are pleasantly atmospheric but it must be admitted that none of the them produces the authentic chill that Doyle, even as he’s putting to rest the aroma of the supernatural in a story like The Hound of the Baskerville, produces.

A. F. KIDD & RICK KENNETT – No. 472 Cheyne Walk: Carnacki — The Untold Stories. Ash-Tree Press, 2002.


   One of the classics of the Victorian & Edwardian fantastic story is William Hope Hodgson’s Carnacki, the Ghost-Finder. The modern writers, A. F. (“Chico”) Kidd and Rick Kennett have revived Hodgson’s scholarly researcher into the outre in a dozen stories that bring together a group of friends with a common interest in the supernatural who, after dinner, settle themselves in comfortable armchairs to listen to their host’s tale of another of the cases in which he has once again laid to rest a supernatural entity or entities.

   Such undertakings (the revival of a classic ghost-hunter) are generally doomed to a failure of some proportion but, as such efforts go, this displays some imagination. I would imagine that a solitary reader, regaling himself with a good cigar and a fine brandy, by a winter fire, might have quite a capital time with the stories. I read them under less appropriate circumstances (a hot summer afternoon, the room chilled by air conditioning) and still derived pleasure from their leisurely, willfully archaic style.