Publisher: (this edition) Fantasy and Horror Classics

Genre: Gothic Horror; Ghost; Fantasy

M R James’ ghost stories have a foot firmly placed in the dark romantic gothic story telling traditions from the 18th century (which later saw a revival in the Victorian age with the likes of his contemporaries, Bram Stoker and Dickens, and with Poe, across the pond). And whilst the settings of his tales were more pedestrian, often pulling away from the mysterious and outlandish settings of classic gothic tropes, his self-styled antiquated prose (not at all meant in a pejorative sense), and dealings in the sinister, the supernatural, and the darker acts of mankind, for me, certainly still place him in the gothic fiction camp. So, to a favourite of mine:

The Haunted Dolls’ House

Mr Dillet procures a doll’s house at a fraction of its worth but soon uncovers the reason why. The tolling of its chapel bell rouses him from sleep at 1am and he watches, spellbound, as nefarious deeds occur within. James skilfully combines the supernatural, dark menace, and the strangely voyeuristic, in a tale that explores the selfish heart of mankind.


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