Sunday, 20 August 2017

'The Last Bus Home'

The last story in Cold Iron is a traditional tale - Andrea Stephenson conjures up an example of the 'Alas! Poor ghost!' school. In this case a young woman with no money boards a night bus and persuades the driver to give her a lift. She has of course disappeared by the time they reach her stop. This happens several times, but there's a twist. One night the driver gives a colleague a lift home, and he also sees the phantom passenger. The story behind the haunting is told - but there is no solution offered, not really. A ghost of this sort cannot be dealt with, the author points out. Just avoided.

And that brings my running review to an and. I greatly enjoyed Cold Iron: Ghost Stories from the 21st Century. Well done to the contributors, and of course to the editors, Peter Mortimer and Eileen Jones.

Horror Movie Daycare

Friday, 18 August 2017

'The Follow Up'

Tom Johnstone is an excellent writer, so it's not surprising that his contribution to Cold Iron is quality stuff. It's a good example of the rural ghost story, albeit translated to the modern urban context of 'the bloke from the council' who mows grass. The mowing is done with a large ride-on machine, and Johnstone neatly sums up the pleasures and pitfalls of the job. It's another present tense, first-person narrative, and the tale has the limber energy of that approach when it's used properly.

As the story unfolds it becomes clear that the protagonist has tried to put something behind him - a nasty accident that he might have avoided. What returns to haunt him is a subtle, economically-described ghost (or ghosts) that is not overtly threatening. But by the time the story ends it is clear that the 'whispering grass' around the narrator harbours more than unhappy memories.

Just one more story to go! Hope you're enjoying this running review, if not at least it's nearly done.


Over to the right (and possibly up a bit) you will notice the readers' poll for best story of issue 35. It seems that Andrew Alford's quirky little tale of 'A Russian Nesting Demon' is running away with the contest. But we still have many weeks to go before voting ends. And remember, you can vote for more than one story. So use your ballot wisely, and vote!*

And now, a kitten on the internet.

Image result for vote kitten

*Preferably after reading the magazine, because that's where the actual stories are