I am obsessed with listening to old ghost stories on audible. This audiobook anthology contained three classic horrors Canon Alberic’s Scrapbook by M.R. James, The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, and The Beast with Five Fingers by W.F. Harvey.
There are a lot of reviews slating the stories for not being “Scary” enough you have to remember these ghost stories were written between 1892 and 1919. Below I am reviewing the books out of play order but in order of favourite to least.
The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman (1892)
Charlotte Perkins Gilman's The Yellow Wallpaper was my favourite. I loved this in this little audiobook anthology and after listening to the short story, I quickly got the book on my kindle. The book is filled with beautiful descriptions that are absolutely gorgeous and the vivid imagery ties it all together. Larel Lefkow's sedate narration really won me over while listening to the audiobook as it added a human layer to this story.
The short stories protagonist tells the story of a woman and her husband, John. Our poor protagonist suffers under a patriarchal society and is in the countryside for 'treatment' for her depression. I know dear Reader this is a fictional woman but it’s likely she was suffering from postpartum depression and the judgement of the others in her family including her 'physician' husband annoyed me. You just know this happened to some poor woman in history. The rage I felt when this poor woman was forbidden to write by her husband/doctor. With nothing to do, she gets obsessed with the colour and pattern of the wallpaper and sends her deeper into her unsteady mental state.
It's the stigma and discrimination that is represented in this short story that makes people even now hush up about their mental health. This book might just be 63 pages, but it will make you contemplate your life, relationships, and mental health for a long time.
The Beast with Five Fingers by W.F. Harvey (1928)
Second, we have W.F. Harvey's 'The Beast with Five Fingers'. The Beast with Five Fingers is quirky, funny, and the only traditional story in this anthology. Steven Pacey is an excellent narrator and it effortless to drift off into the story.
After his Uncle Adrian’s death Eustace receives his uncle’s severed right hand in the mail. According to the solicitor, a new addition was found to Adrian’s will, where he asks that his hand be severed and sent to Eustace as part of his inheritance. This is my type of trolling and morbid jokes dear Readers. This isn’t any old hand dear Reader this hand is alive in some sense, intelligent, very mobile, and a master forger. The poor ancestor of Thing is assumed evil by Eustace and his secretary despite only being a little but mischievous and not malicious. The poor hand is hammed to a board and shoved in a safe for several months. Just rude of anyone wants my opinion. After that comes a final showdown between men and appendage.
Canon Alberic’s Scrapbook by M.R. James (1894)
Finally, we have M.R. James' Canon Alberic's Scrapbook, it’s
an absolute gem and a great short story but I preferred the other two in the
little anthology. An eerie story might be
better description than ghost story. The story feels a little unpredictable at
times as we are introduced to so many great ghost story locations. We have an old
churches, graveyards, small villages and an eccentric clergy. Our protagonist,
Dennistoun, is the stereotypical Jamesian protagonist an academic bachelor who
is in France on holiday from his job as a lecturer at Cambridge. The story is
well plotted, but the descriptions are what carry this eerie story. Andrew
Sachs does a wonderful job with the narration and it easy to feel immersed into
this little ghost story.