Friday, November 20, 2009

The Ghost Quartet

THE GHOST QUARTET, edited by Marvin Kaye, Tor, $15.99, 304 pages, ISBN: 9780765312525, reviewed by Barry Hunter.

First there was THE VAMPIRE SEXTET followed by THE DRAGON QUINTET and now we have THE GHOST QUARTET, the latest entry into the marvelous group of anthologies that Marvin Kaye has produced featuring some of the brightest writers practicing their craft today. This book is no exception. It features four fantastic writers who are at the top of their game with the stories in this collection.

The volume opens with Brian Lumley’s story of “The Place of Waiting” that takes place on the moors made famous by Sherlock Holmes’ adventures with the hound. Lumley takes the atmosphere and turns it into a ghost tale of a painter who sees more in his landscape than the rocks of Tumble Tor.

Orson Scott Card takes a break from his normal science fiction universe to present the story of “Hamlet’s Father”. We all know about Hamlet and his visions but Card presents the comments and observations of his father that help (?) understand his motivations.

Kaye adds a terrific story of his own in “The Haunted Single Malt”. Many people have seen spirits and other assorted apparitions after partaking of alcohol. This is the first time I can remember where the spirits were really in the bottle.

Tanith Lee concludes the volume with “Strindberg’s Ghost Sonata”. In a Russia far removed from what we know, a man is dying in the dead of Winter only to be rescued. But what happens after the rescue makes one wonder if it would have been better to die alone and cold. The last line in her story is a very fitting close to the book. “At last, at last, it was mourning.”

Each author has an afterword and Kaye has an introduction about ghosts in literature and his own personal experience. This is a wonderful addition to his anthologies. I can’t wait to see what kind of “trio” he comes up with.

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