A Haunting Of Ghosts by Maynard Sims – review by Mario Guslandi

A Haunting of Ghosts by Maynard Sims
Hardcover: 144 pages
Publisher : Enigmatic Press, UK 2012

Maynard Sims ( i.e. Len Maynard & Mick Sims) is an excellent writing duo, author of several collections of ghost and horror stories, a few horror novellas and some supernatural thrillers.

The classical British ghost story was their debut genre , to which they have recently returned with the delightful collection “Flame and Other Enigmatic Press”, published by Sarob Press. A new collection of ghostly tales in the tradition of MR James (but their models are apparently Wakefield, Rolt, Cowles and Munby) is now available in a limited hardcover edition of 144 pages, including six stories.

While in their last book they surprised their fans by penning a series of stories with a one-word title , here they revert to their customary knack for creating stories endowed with long, imaginative titles. Another sign of their return to their origins.

Needless to say, all the featured tales are fully enjoyable, a real delight for the readers fond of elegant, subtly unsettling dark fiction. Most of the stories are told in the classical setting of two gentlemen (Pullford and Priestley, a couple of widowers) sitting around a fireplace and savoring a good cigar and a generous glass of spirit.
“The Man Who Wore the Wrong Coat” , revolving around a cursed chapel sitting in the garden of a country mansion, is a fine example of traditional, enticing ghost story.

“The House with Too Many Windows” is a puzzling, atmospheric piece blending reality and dream, while “Love Lies Floating On the Water” is a disturbing, fascinating tale set in a haunted Venice, where life, love and death chase each other in a phantasmagoric race.

The ingredients of the melancholy, and disquieting “The House That Was Too Grand For Laughter”, in which sadness is stronger than fear, include a haunted mansion, a shaky marriage and a lost child.

My favorite piece is, perhaps, “The Church With the Tower That Moved” an outstanding story with a distinctive Jamesian flavor, but the whole book is a little treasure of pleasurable shivers and intriguing darkness.

Review by Mario Guslandi

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About Alan Baxter

Alan Baxter is a Ditmar Award-nominated British-Australian author. He writes dark fantasy, horror and sci-fi, rides a motorcycle and loves his dog. He also teaches Kung Fu. He is the author of the dark urban fantasy duology, RealmShift and MageSign (The Balance Book 1 and Book 2), co-authored the short horror novel, Dark Rite, with David Wood, and his dark urban fantasy trilogy, Bound, Obsidian and Abduction (The Alex Caine Series), is due out from HarperVoyager from July 2014. He is also the author of more than 50 short stories published in a variety of journals and anthologies in Australia, the US, the UK and France, including the Year’s Best Australian Fantasy & Horror (2010 & 2012). Read extracts from his novels, a novella and short stories at his website – www.alanbaxteronline.com – or find him on Twitter @AlanBaxter and Facebook, and feel free to tell him what you think. About anything.

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