Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Table of contents - "Terror Tales of Wales" edited by Paul Finch

Fairy tales, myths and legends are solid foundation stones of my passion for reading. I remember with fondness all those volumes full of magical worlds and stories and I still cherish the memory of one particular heavy tome of fairy tales, equal in size and consistency to the nowadays door-stopping volumes of fantasy novels, that ended up quite battered and frail from so much use. I still love all these stories and I enjoy seeing all of them thriving again, be that in their old form or the new, reinterpreted and reimagined one. With the passing of time the dark side of these stories revealed itself more and more and it brought me new moments of delight. No matter if it is the little details hiding in the shadows or the core and heart of a particular story I like the shiver on the spine they bring along. And when terror tales are told around a camp fire, in the dark of night, the stories can work their magic in the fullest. All right, I never experienced this last situation, it is more the romanticized image implemented by the movie industry, but I quite like the thought of it and I still love to imagine it. But if these terror tales are told around a fire in the woods or witnessed in a warm, cozy armchair at home from the pages of a book their power to mesmerize remains strong. I also like to imagine an entire collection of such tales, one of the size and quality of the Encyclopedia Britannica, which spans over the ages and regions of the world, because there is such a rich vein of folklore, mythology, traditional and urban legends that offers countless possibilities for volumes of terror tales. I admit, a series of the size of the Encyclopedia Britannica might be a bit too ambitious, but I can still dream about it. After all, Gray Friar Press has an excellent such project, a running series of anthologies, edited by Paul Finch, devoted to the legends and terror tales of United Kingdom’s various regions. Lake District, the Cotswolds, East Anglia, the Seaside and London each brought to the readers, in their respective volumes, frightful legends such as the demented clown of Muncaster, the demon dancers of Warwick, the killer hounds of Southery, the haunted sewer of Bermondsey or the death ships of Goodwin together with new, chilling tales by Carole Jonhstone, Alison Littlewood, Anna Taborska, Thana Niveau, Gary McMahon, Simon Bestwick, Adam Nevill, Stephen Volk, Gary FryJoel Lane or Christopher Fowler. All these five volumes of terror tales synthesize legends, alleged true horror stories and terrifying fiction with excellent results, five anthologies that have a special place on my bookshelves. And soon they will be joined by a sixth, Gray Friar Press and Paul Finch are preparing to release “Terror Tales of Wales”, by the looks of it with the same accomplished outcome, I expect as much from the headless specter of Kidwelly, the soul stealer of Portcawl, the dark serpent of Bodalog, the Christmas slaughter of Llanfabon or the short stories of my personal favorites Thana Niveau, Priya Sharma, Tim Lebbon, Ray Cluley, Gary Fry and Stephen Volk. With such  a promising companion for the other five collections of stories I keep dreaming of more volumes of terror tales from various regions of United Kingdom, Europe and the entire world.

Wales – ‘Land of my Fathers’, cradle of poetry, song and mythic rural splendour. But also a scene of oppression and tragedy, where angry spirits stalk castle and coal mine alike, death-knells sound amid fogbound peaks, and dragons stir in bottomless pools …

The headless spectre of Kidwelly
The sea terror off Anglesey
The soul stealer of Porthcawl
The blood rites at Abergavenny
The fatal fruit of Criccieth
The dark serpent of Bodalog
The Christmas slaughter at Llanfabon

And many more chilling tales by Stephen Volk, Tim Lebbon, Simon Clark, Priya Sharma, John Llewellyn Probert and other award-winning masters and mistresses of the macabre.

“Under the Windings of the Sea” by Ray Cluley
Legions of Ghosts
“Old as the Hills” by Steve Duffy
The Beast of Bodalog
“The Druid’s Rest” by Reggie Oliver
Night of the Bloody Ape
“Swallowing a Dirty Seed” by Simon Clark
The Devil Made Him Do It
“The Face” by Thana Niveau
Hoof-beats in the Mist
“Don’t Leave Me Down Here” by Steve Lockley
The Werewolf of Clwyd
“Matilda of the Night” by Stephen Volk
The Goblin Stone
“The Sound of the Sea” by Paul Lewis
A Quick Pint and a Slow Hanging
“The Flow” by Tim Lebbon
“The Offspring” by Steve Jordan
Prophecy of Fire
“Dialled” by Bryn Fortey
The Dark Heart of Magnificence
“The Rising Tide” by Priya Sharma
The Hag Lands
“Apple of their Eyes” by Gary Fry
Beneath the Sea of Wrecks
“Learning the Language” by John Llewellyn Probert

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