It’s ‘the time of year when the English-speaking peoples, not without an assist from their Celtic connexions, tend invariably towards the haunted and the grotesque in their tales and anecdotes’; and rather than allow that season to pass without something to offer our readers from the very beginning of it, Mr Pyle and Mr Wemyss made a wager on the Saturday before All Hallows’ Eve: a story apiece, as ‘unco’ uncanny’ as they felt they wished to be.
The novelist, West Country essayist, and historian GMW Wemyss returns us to the dark, deep woods of Wiltshire at night, older than Stonehenge, where dark deeds are afoot – until interrupted by the well-loved ensemble cast of his Village Tales series, led as ever by the indomitable (and exasperating) duke of Taunton and the Muscular Christianity of the Rector, Fr Noel Paddick. (Apparently, a case of possession can, actually, be stopped by a brilliant throw in to the wicket. Sometimes....)
And Markham Shaw Pyle, the historian and critic, then takes us out ‘West of One-Hundredth’, to the Big Empty of rural Texas, where anything might happen: and does happen, posing a problem of law and ethics, and the howling question, ‘When does the beast crowd out the man?’
From the Eve of All Hallows to Christmas of the Dickensian ghost stories, this is the season of the uncanny and the strange; and this volume is as near to a gift as the authors can contrive, in hopes that their loyal readers ‘may be, for a moment, if no more, diverted and amused with what is, after all, the merest trifle … as they await more substantial fare, quite soon’.