About the Author:
Laurence Green is a retired teacher who lives in Devon, England. He has an MA in Anglo-American Literary Relations from the University of Exeter and taught at King Edward VI Community College, Totnes.
AVERAGE REVIEW SCORE:
3 out of 5
No Admittance After Dark
A follow-up to 'Westcountry Stories of the Restless Dead', this book features twenty-two ghost stories similarly inspired by the legends and locations of South West England. Among the tales on offer is one about the hungry old gods of the River Dart, the story of a man who, haunted by his first wife, considers murdering his second and various others featuring the appearance of lost or, occasionally, malign spirits.
This book is definitely a superior read to the first one, with more stories that send genuine chills up your spine. Perhaps the best case of this is 'The Old People', in which a Reverend, new to the parish, is harrassed by sinister spirits within the walls of his own church. What made this story especially enjoyable (and chilling) for me is that its setting of Brantcombe is a fictionalised version of the village where I grew up, South Brent, where a priest was indeed murdered on the steps of the church.
Once again, the author's notes in the back provide details of the inspirations and facts which he weaves throughout the stories and is an invaluable resource for understanding the context of those stories.
The downsides to this book are mainly twofold. The first is that, whilst far more chilling than in the previous volume, the stories on offer here always seem to shy away just on the point of becoming genuinely scary. I'm not saying that I would've wanted a start-to-finish horror-fest, but some of the stories would definitely have been far better if they'd been played out to their dark extremes. The other failing of the book is the recurrence of real-life elements clearly known to the author. Whilst they're obviously people and places that had an affect on Green, having so many different references to specific pubs or a specific abandoned airfield within the one book makes the whole thing seem limited. Sure they're all set in the same part of the world, but do we really need so many references to the murder of Charlotte Dymond? I appreciated the tragedy of her story the first time around and didn't need reminding of it over and over in different contexts.
So, overall, a better book than 'Westcountry Stories...' but still falling short of its potential.
In the interest of full disclosure, I should mention that the author actually dropped a free, signed copy of this book off to my workplace because I'd mentioned that I'd read the first one. For that I am very grateful.
3 out of 5
Westcountry Stories Of The Restless Dead
A collection of twenty one short stories based on and inspired by the ghost stories and legends of South West England. Anyone, such as myself, who has an interest in rural mythology will find this an interesting read, combining as it does fiction, folklore and actual history.
The author's passion for the people and places involved also shines clear here and the Afterword reveals the facts and inspirations behind each of the stories. Taken purely as works of fiction, the stories lack the real chills which one would hope for and, on occasion, the motivations of the characters are unclear and their actions contrived. This is not helped by the fact that we, as readers, are never in any doubt as to the nature of the odd people in old fashioned clothing who appear out of nowhere, robbing the book of any real mystery.
Also I have to acknowledge that a large part of what I enjoyed about this book was the fact that its stories visit sites with which, being a Westcountry man myself, I am very familiar, adding a powerful sense of nostalgia which will be absent for any reader who hasn't visited Devon and Cornwall.
One specific element worth mentioning before I finish is the tongue-in-cheek irony evident at the end of 'Cutty Dyer', wherein a man who is terrified of trolls and has to keep telling himself out loud that they're not real, is murdered by a troll out to punish those who don't believe in his kind. I was a little disappointed that the author's strong sense of humour (which I know from having met the man) isn't apparent elsewhere as well.
3 out of 5