Small and Spooky

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Review: Small and Spooky Edited by M.R. Nelson

You’ve heard of flights, yes? Kayleigh Kulp of Wine Enthusiast Magazine explains that flights, “which usually consist of three to eight tastes of comparable wines, are designed to encourage novices and experts alike to explore….”

Borrowing from that concept, M.R. Nelson has created an interesting niche of literary Taster Flights in the publishing world. Her latest offering, Small and Spooky, is just up my dark alley.

In this taster flight, M.R. Nelson has brought together classic ghost stories from some of our best loved authors. Small and Spooky features six stories: “The Marble Child” by E. Nesbit, “The Wind in the Rose-bush” by Mary E. Wilkins Freeman, “Their Dear Little Ghost” by Elia Wilkinson Peattie, “Morella” by Edgar Allen Poe, “The Old Nurse’s Story” by Elizabeth Gaskell, and “The Doll’s Ghost” by F. Marion Crawford.

Of these stories, Edgar Allen Poe’s was the creepiest with a sort of twisted sexual overtone, just as readers of The Fall of the House of Usher might expect (though subtle enough that young readers will not be distressed). E. Nesbit’s “The Marble Child” is a sweet story of love between friends from the author of Five Children and It, a lovely children’s novel with a sand fairy. My family and I were living in London in 1991 when the BBC aired a wonderful six part production of Five Children and It. We all enjoyed watching it, and I recommend it to everyone.

Though I enjoyed all the stories in Small and Spooky (with the possible exception of Poe’s and with apologies to Elizabeth Gaskell whose novel North and South I love), my favorites of this ghost flight are “Their Dear Little Ghost” and “The Doll’s Ghost.” Both of these stories, while melancholy, are gentle and kind in the grand style of Victorian children’s literature. I will confess that when I read over “Their Dear Little Ghost” a second time, I felt a little prickle of tears.

The collection of stories in Small and Spooky┬áis well worth tasting both for the stylish writing and for the vintage illustrations. You will discover new works by familiar authors guaranteed to shadow your waking thoughts. For, as Editor Nelson says, “Even small ghosts can be spooky.”

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For more spooky short stories, be sure to visit the R.I.P. Challenge at Stainless Steel Droppings to see what other readers and bloggers are imbibing.


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