26 May 2010

Tales of Terror from the Tunnel’s Mouth

by Chris Priestley

Allen and Unwin. Young Adult, Horror. Hardback rrp $24.99

Reviewed by Anastasia Gonis

It is England in the early 1900s. Robert is travelling alone on a train for the first time in his life. He’s glad to get away from his overpowering step-mother whose life talk is filled with superstitions and portents. The other occupants of the carriage he enters are the Major, a farmer, a bishop and a surgeon. The last to enter is a lady dressed totally in white. While the others sleep, she offers to entertain him with tales.

But the train doesn’t seem to move from the tunnel’s mouth and there is no waking up all the snoring occupants.

The tales Robert is told are gripping, macabre, and filled with supernatural happenings. He finds that the storyteller has some place in his life which he can’t identify. He struggles to make sense of what is really happening. Is he part of the stories, or have they affected him in an explicable way. Do parallel worlds really exist?

These are spectacular tales of terror and edgy horror. The extraordinary and imaginative tales with a sinister twist are presented through perfect writing and well-conceived stories. This is the type of work expected by the gifted Priestly who is the author of Uncle Montague’s Tales of Terror and Tales of Terror from the Black Ship. He is currently working on a longer ghost story.

This is not everyone’s ideal read, but it is highly addictive and riveting reading. There are eleven chilling tales. The book is beautifully presented in hardcover with a fully illustrated dust jacket in sombre black and white pen and ink. It would suit teenage readers plus, but it comes with a warning. It’s not for the faint-hearted!


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