“Now I know what a ghost is. Unfinished business, that’s what.” Salman Rushdie
“The muses are ghosts, and sometimes they come uninvited.” Stephen King
This book of 5 short stories is a surprise. Yes, each story has a ghost, who appears at Christmas, but they are not horrifying. The protagonist may feel fear or confusion, but the reader feels curiosity. Why is the ghost returning?
In the first story, Guardian, we meet the most traditional ghost-like figure, but this is also the story about relationships, good and bad. Occurring on Bodmin Moor late on Christmas Eve, there is a gradual build up of tension and we fear for Henry, just as his mother did. Hot Toddy is a more reassuring story of enduring love, while Roger Reed and the Road Kill Rabbit is an amusing tale of an unpleasant man receiving his just reward.
My favourites are the last two stories. Old Man Symmonds echoes “A Christmas Carol”. There are two unjust bosses in different eras, mistreating their employees, but the heroine, Hayley, regains her confidence, realising her worth as a consequence of her encounter with the ghost. In this story and also in the final tale the main character deals with relationships and gains maturity. Eloise in The Christmas Ghost is struggling to become an author, but she already knows that her occupation as a house-sitter suits her disposition and her aspiration. Failing in her attempt to become closer to her critical mother, whose glass is always half-full, she returns to the Victorian cottage she is minding, to find a ghost whose fate is far worse than hers. The house has inspired her writing, will it help her to heal her family too?
I highly recommend this delightful volume of unusual ghost stories and hope that there will be a second volume to follow next Christmas.
The Christmas Ghosts can be purchased on Amazon UK