Author: Chris Priestley
Release date: 4th October 2010
Genre: Chillers, Short Stories
Target audience: 10+
UK Publisher: Bloomsbury
A boy is put on a train by his stepmother to make his first journey on his own. But soon that journey turns out to be more of a challenge than anyone could have imagined as the train stalls at the mouth of a tunnel and a mysterious woman in white helps the boy while away the hours by telling him stories - ghost stories with a difference.
Tales of Terror from the Tunnel's Mouth is a collection of nine short stories that are scary by nature and are of mixture of strange and macabre plots and characters. This is the third collection of Priestley's short stories and this time, the collection features a boy travelling to school who is being entertained with scary stories on the train.
Robert Harper is a boy on his way back to school. He is a proud, intelligent and mature boy who likes to read fantasy stories, but who swears on practicality and realism in real life. When his train stops just before a tunnel's mouth, a Woman in White, as he calls her, as he has read Wilkie Collins' The Woman in White and she reminds him of the title character, offers to entertain him with stories. But they are not typical children's stories - they are true tales of terror, featuring evil fairies, ghosts that drive people insane and flies that can kill. Robert thinks the stories silly at first, but with each new story, he is pulled further into their worlds.
What is really interesting and wonderful about this collection of short stories is that they are all linked to the conversations that Robert has with the Woman in White. Robert and the woman are the frame of the story and the stories are connected to them. Therefore, the book features both short stories (that can be read as stand-alone tales) as well as Robert's story that proves to be quite intriguing and has a very good twist that brings the collection to a great conclusion.
All the characters that appear in this story are very interesting and some of them dark and frightening. Suspense is maintained throughout the book and may cause one to have goose bumps. The narrative is smooth and written in an elevated, yet engaging and understandable style. The language definitely follows the time period (I believe that all stories take place in the 19th century). The book also features nice and very fitting illustrations that spice up the stories.
I can say that these stories have stayed with me and I will gladly return to them in the future, as well as to the author, Chris Priestley. Lovers of Neil Gaiman (and, I even dare say, of Edgar Allan Poe) will surely appreciate this collection, as will all who, in general, like to read fiction that is a bit scary. I fell in love with this collection and I hope you may find something for yourself in it as well.
Becky says: Irena, this sounds like a fascinating collection of short stories. I hardly ever read short stories myself. I prefer novels where you can really get to know a character. But these sound great for fans of scary stories.
Both our thanks go to Bloomsbury Books for sending the book to review.