Published in 2018, Eight Ghosts is a collection of eight stories by Sarah Perry, Andrew Michael Hurley, Mark Haddon, Kamila Shamsie, Stuart Evers, Kate Clanchy, Jeanette Winterson, Max Porter, and Andrew Martin.
Each author was given after-hours freedom at their chosen English heritage site. Immersed in the history, atmosphere and rumours of hauntings, they channelled their darker imaginings into a series of extraordinary new ghost stories.
It’s always disappointing when you read a ghost story and there aren’t many ghosts. I was expecting to be terrified and for this collection of short stories to leave me afraid to sleep with the light off. But alas, they weren’t very scary at all.
When you read about the purpose of the stories (to raise money for English Heritage) and how the stories came about (each author was given after-hours freedom at their chosen English heritage site to find inspiration for a related story), it soon becomes clear why the stories are so tame.
I love the idea of starting with a location and building a story around that to showcase these amazing buildings. But it gives these stories a different purpose, to capture the historical atmosphere rather than to haunt and scare.
So because I didn’t find any of the stories scary, that was a massive let down for me. Even more so that I didn’t even understand half of them. It’s always hard to get a concept across in so few pages, but I couldn’t take anything away from the majority of them.
I was really excited to see a Cornish building included (one I have visited myself) and this happened to be the only story that I really liked, so at least I wasn’t completely disappointed.
Had these stories been marketed as historical fiction short stories showcasing English Heritage properties, I would have enjoyed this book much more for what it is. But when you read a ghost story at Halloween and it doesn’t provide any spooks, it leaves very little to be said.
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