The best and most interesting stories by Robert Aickman, a master of the supernatural tale, the uncanny, and the truly weird.
Robert Aickman’s self-described “strange stories” are confoundingly and uniquely his own. These superbly written tales terrify not with standard thrills and gore but through a radical overturning of the laws of nature and everyday life. His territory of the strange, of the “void behind the face of order,” is a surreal region that grotesquely mimics the quotidian: Is that river the Thames, or is it even a river? What does it mean when a prospective lover removes one dress, and then another—and then another? Does a herd of cows in a peaceful churchyard contain the souls of jilted women preparing to trample a cruel lover to death? Published for the first time under one cover, the stories in this collection offer an unequaled introduction to a profoundly original modern master of the uncanny.
Aickman (1914 1981) was a master of the "strange story" whose nearly unclassifiable output relies neither on ghosts nor creaking castles. Each story in this collection is a small masterpiece of unease and psychological perplexity. In the title story, a mysterious woman gradually seduces and supplants both a husband and wife; in "Hand in Glove" a holiday in the country seems to cross over to a netherworld of carnivorous cows; and in "No Time Is Passing," a man discovers a river behind his house that leads to an island seemingly outside of time. Other stories feature ancient wooden cabins, reclusive women of mystery, and "dreams... hard to recall in their particulars." In "Residents Only," a neglected graveyard becomes walled off from the living by its population of living dead. "Wood" follows a man entering into a strange marriage with the daughter of a sinister carpenter. "Le Miroir" introduces a young woman who falls out of step with her own reflection. Insidious, haunting, and brilliant, Aickman's stories present dreamlike, inexplicable realities in prose both strangely sensual and entirely disarming, making this collection a treasure for fans of Poe, Kafka, and Lovecraft.