Queer Haunts

Edited by
G Abel-Watters

"There were only a few dozen words on the page, and he soon came to the end of them. He didn't want to turn the page, but he could feel himself being urged to do so. The struggle was sufficient to wake him: he was sweating, and still had a lingering sensation of dread."

Scary, friendly, vengeful, sexy - many types of ghosts appear in this diverse volume of stories.  There is a spirit far from home and one who doesn't want to leave home; there are ghosts who do favours or expect favours from humans, ghosts who tell their own story, and a spirit who wears a green lace negligėe. 

In Queer Haunts you will find something for every mood: from chilling to charming, moving to amusing.  Some of these tales link back to ancient legends and times gone by; others are firmly in the modern world where ghosts can jet in and carry a mobile phone. 

The stories in this collection have all been written by gay and lesbian authors, and all speak in some way of gay experience.  Queer Haunts reflects their diversity in its diverse collection, and the diversity of the readers to whom it will appeal - in fact, everyone who loves a good story or a good ghost.  So wedge those rattling windows and creaking doors, curl up by the fire and enjoy! 

"As is the case with all anthologies, the stories are of variable quality; the most effective being those that sensibly utilise the form by restricting locale and number of characters to a minimum (Jeffrey Doorn's In the Catacombs and Journey Round the Circle Line, for instance)."  - Peter Burton, Gay Times, December 2003 

This review by Gay Authors Workshop member Graham Robertson first appeared in Gazebo 6:

In Victorian times readers were far more credulous about the supernatural than are we in the 21st century. The writers in this anthology have countered our climate of scepticism in various ways. 

Frank Storm's "Martin" makes a quite unlikely plot so entertaining that disbelief is willingly suspended, whilst Elsa Wallace, in "The Old Country" - where descriptions of relationships and background remind one of Katherine Mansfield - solves the problem by centring the story on the awakening sensibilities of a young girl, allowing the supernatural element to become poignant rather than scary. Again, in "Smoke", Martin Foreman, in an intense, elegiac, superbly descriptive piece, turns the supernatural ending into an elegant conceit. 

The most genuinely frightening story in the collection is Jeffrey Doorn's "Journey Round the Circle Line", a compelling read in which a nightmare situation is resolved in a pleasingly appropriate ending.   Without giving the game away, I'll tell you that "Circle of Six" by Michael Ewers acquires its melancholy charm from a similarly unusual perspective, while Kathryn Bell's contribution to the anthology consists of two stories, one of them about love beyond the grave;  the other concerning a sinister paedophiliac phantom who is fortunately allergic to peppermints.

Michael Harth's practised pen gives verisimilitude to the supernatural by leading the reader into obscure or exotic areas of experience where anything can happen.   Quite the opposite technique is employed by Gail Morris, with a familiar London background for her tale ("Clinging") of a lover who won't let go even when she's dead. 

The title of "The Month Rule" by Alan Keslian refers to the central figure's acceptance of the narrow precept that one new sex partner per month is enough. Luckily, ghosts don't count, so he's able to enjoy the charms of a young scuba-diving instructor by day and his ghostly, look-alike ancestor by night.   I liked the echoes between the day and night-time conversations. The author is plainly knowledgeable about the marine life of St Austell (not to mention Ruislip Lido).   

In both the stories by Anne Stanesby, the same convincing detail, together with nice comic endings, provide a most entertaining read. Nobody buying this collection could complain that it isn't varied or diverting.   Much of its interest, indeed, lies in the means by which each writer rises to the challenge of what, in our century, is a very difficult medium. 

Physical copy

Post to:
then
Book Specification: 
ISBN: 
978 1 904585 58 9
Paperback
198 pages
£7.99

G Abel-Watters has a well-established association with ghosts, having investigated many sites of reputed hauntings, without ever finding totally convincing evidence of a supernatural manifestation. The hunt continues, with editing this anthology a welcome respite from the relentless pursuit, while a long-time ambition is to visit Dracula territory. Favourite colour, if anyone is interested, is pink, while the obligatory black cat is known as Aleister.