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Book Review

Book Cover

Terror Tales of Cornwall


Editor: Paul Finch
Publisher: Telos Books
RRP: £12.99
ISBN: 978 1 84583 121 9
Publication Date: 14 April 2017

Terror Tales of Cornwall is a horror anthology of sixteen short stories invoking various myths and legends surrounding the South West of England. It is edited by Paul Finch, with two page inserts between each describing the research into individual accounts of strange sightings or experiences. It is published by Telos on good quality paper, incorporates 283 pages and has very nice cover art by Neil Williams.

We Who Sing Beneath the Ground, by Mark Morris: A new teacher at a rural school becomes worried for the welfare of an unusual pupil when he fails to turn up for a few days. Failing to contact the parents, she drives out to the remote farm where they live and makes an astonishing discovery. Mark Morris excels at this type of story. Curiosity is progressively cranked-up throughout the tale by revealing just a little more at each stage. Clever writing.

In the Light of St Ives, by Ray Cluley is a tale which has a young woman visit her sister in hospital after the trauma of a major house fire. Here she will learn about the supernatural qualities of paint seepage.

Trouble at Botathan, by Reggie Oliver sees a man encounter an invisible barrier preventing his entering a certain region. Then in a library he finds a hidden journal.

Mebyon Versus Suna, by John Whitbourn witnesses a born and bred Cornishman being forced to move to Devon when his wife gets a promotion. Red dots appear before his eyes which effectively end his job as a proof reader. But then larger eyes block his way; something is driving him back to Cornwall. Although the main character is rude, his words and actions read as very humorous, making this an enjoyable tale. It’s left ambiguous as to whether the eyes are real or in the protagonist’s head.

The Unseen, by Paul Edwards has a horror fan buy a black market DVD called Black Remote, and strive to track down a finished or uncut version. This is a great premise that becomes rather predictable when the horror buff does something ridiculously foolhardy, which 99 percent of the population wouldn’t even consider without much more information.

Dragon Path, by Jacqueline Simpson sees a man, ridiculed for his ideas, take ‘friends’ to see the Cheesewring Stones, thereby exacting his revenge with devastating force. But he misuses the power of the Druids. It’s always good to have nasty people get their comeuppance.

The Old Traditions Are Best, by editor Paul Finch sees a couple bring a young offender to Padstow to supposedly show him better ways. But when he shows signs of his old urban character, he finds himself running from the ‘Obby Oss’ – a Cornish legend defender of Padstow.

The Uncertainty of All Earthly Things, by Mark Valentine has a man take over as curator of a small museum in a remote part of Cornwall, and is shown how to look through the eyes of the Triple Headed King.

His Anger Was Kindled, by Kate Farrell describes an old priest from a decrepit church defending his parish from the developers, and perhaps receiving a little help from a saint. This is one of the best of the bunch.

Four Windows and a Door, by D P Watt has a couple take their two young children on holiday to Cornwall; but after seeing an ancient house on the way to Fowey their little girl is never the same again.

Claws, by Steve Jordan sees students working the holidays in a seaside amusement arcade being plagued by murderous Piskies.

A Beast By Any Other Name, by Adrian Cole has a well-to-do man found torn apart in the grounds of a house on the edge of Bodmin Moor. It is blamed on a black panther, but a stranger believes it to be a cover for murder.

Moon Blood-Red, Tide Turning – by Mark Samuels sees a man attend a low-key theatre play. It is still going on when he leaves… and when he returns to Cornwall twenty years later.

The Memory of Stone, by Sarah Singleton has a man stalking a younger woman to the point that it destroys his life. But who or what is playing with his mind all these years later?

Shelter From the Storm, by Ian Hunter (not the guy from Mott the Hoople, I’m guessing!) sees a group of walkers straying from the track and being forced to take shelter in a half-ruined church. A church which harbours a years old secret.

Losing Its Identity, by Thana Niveau has an elderly woman exploring a cove she and her dead husband had come to love, when freak weather conditions draw away the sea to reveal a mythical old town.

The stories are interspersed with descriptions of Cornish legends such as Piskies, Mermaids, the Bodmin Fetch, Witches, the Hooper, Jamaica Inn and many more. I was particularly pleased to discover the origins of the Cornish Ale name, Doom Bar. Okay, a couple of the tales peter-out before they really get going, but I read this book from cover to cover and enjoyed it immensely. It kind of took me back to much-loved childhood holidays in Cornwall, and those little local books about hauntings and suchlike, which were always available in the local shops. Highly recommended.


Ty Power

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