Ghost stories at Christmas can be traced back to pagan times – Yule and Saturnalia – when the Winter Solstice (like Hallowe’en and Wulpurgis Night) was viewed as a moment in space and time where the thinness of the boundaries between the supernatural and human worlds became remarkably plastic, and all manner of strange things were said to be seen and heard in the winter air. while we no longer have the old stories spoken in the old homes around the old fires by the old myth-keepers, let us sit around and enjoy some of the stories that would have sent shivers up the great-great-grandchildren of those little ones sitting around the Yule fire – the supernatural literature of the Victorians and Edwardians.
Enclosed in this volume are tales of dark winter nights and harrowing encounters between the worlds of Man and the Hereafter. There are tales of cursed antiquities, otherworldly toy stores, possessed dolls, deals with the devil, and murderous cabin fever. I hope your Christmas is – as M. R. James put it “may be the cheerfuller for a story-book” which takes you back to a different world – one not mapped out, trending, or tweeted about, one dark, forbidding, and evocative. Perhaps I may be a luddite for saying it, but I find something strangely comforting in that. Something consoling and hushing and chilling. Perhaps you will, too.