Sunday, 15 May 2016

Uncle Montagues Tales of Terror.

Read this wee gem last night. Came across it whilst browsing through some second hand books for something to grab my nephew's interest and ended up coming away with half a dozen different bits and pieces for myself. I am ashamed of this but book collectors are like this I think. Whoever dies with the most wins or some equally dubious hubris. Lapsed Catholics make shite browsers. We buy so much rubbish as substitutes for holy relics which no longer inspire as they should.
             It was the lovely cover which caught my attention. And that title. I come from a big family where there was always some older person telling tales of some sort and they nearly always leaned to the macabre. My da was someone's uncle and I know he told me stories as a child that kept me awake at night. Afraid to pull a blanket over my face in case one night I pulled it back to find myself staring up at the lid of a coffin and the silence of the grave.
               Well at least my da's stories have not affected me in a negative sense.
               This was a lucky find. I just so thoroughly enjoyed the story, and stories within the narrative, and found the art seamlessly drew me on. You too will find yourself in that most solitary house in that haunted forest sitting in front of a fire that illuminates without heating as the story chills. I intend to pass this on to my nephew. I think it is the sort of book which when read at the right age could become a favourite that also would encourage the reader to look for other work by this pair. That means off course I want to track down another copy for myself.
                 It feels a bit MR James, it feels a bit Edgar Allen Poe but it also feels it has a strong identity of its own. not a pastiche or Poe-light. There is a touch of Cain and Abel in here. The two story telling brothers from the old D.C. comics House Of Secrets and House Of Mystery. Strong and creepy and very well realised. If you enjoy the work of people like Charles Adams or Arthur Rackham you may well want to have this book in your collection on the strength of the art work alone. You would be doing yourself a disservice though by not reading the tales told by Uncle Montague.
                I read it late last night on what was probably the hottest day of the year so far in Belfast. There were moments though I am sure I heard a winter wind and bare tree branches scratching at the window panes. At least I think it was Tree branches..