"White is for Witching", by Helen Oyeyemi

Novel, 2009 A novel which pulls on a load of shapes and guises, from coming of age, to a twins’ psychodrama, to haunted house thriller. This is a book in which too much goes on without much seeming to actually happen. The result is a confusing hodge-podge, which may be an intentional device reflecting the struggles of Miranda, the main protagonist. There’s some really outstanding … Continue reading "White is for Witching", by Helen Oyeyemi

"Collected Ghost Stories", by MR James

Fiction, 1931 Supernatural tales, most of which stick close to established formulae (mysterious books and texts, eerie buildings) and can merge and blend a little into each other, but pepped up here and there with either humorous touches or the appearance and meta-fictional disruption of a narrator barrelling into proceedings. These are therefore stories to be enjoyed over a long period of time. More often … Continue reading "Collected Ghost Stories", by MR James

"The Woman in Black", by Susan Hill

Novel, 1992 Effective ghost story, packing suspense and creating an evocative, oppressive atmosphere. Much of this is probably attributable to the first person narrative, taking the reader into a world which is written in what appears to be very deliberately ‘olde worlde’, with a groaning bucket load of mist, marshes, haunted houses and phantoms. While the style occasionally threatens the power of the narrative, in … Continue reading "The Woman in Black", by Susan Hill

"13 Ghosts," directed William Castle

Movie, 1960 Take out the outrageous Illusion-O gimmick, which neatly and effectively removes most of the tension in the film and leads in to some fairly tedious special effects, and 13 Ghosts is a pretty effective haunted house movie. While younger characters and cast members grate, Margaret Hamilton (the witch in The Wizard of Oz) is a sinister, enjoyable presence playing a twisted housekeeper along similar … Continue reading "13 Ghosts," directed William Castle