Dark Encounters

Dark Encounters

William Croft Dickinson: introduced by Alistair Kerr
ARRSE Rating
4 Mushroom Heads
This book is a collection of dark Scottish ghost stories set in the late 19th/early 20th century wioth the origins of the story often travelling back to the grim days of the Jacobite rebellions. I read most of these stories in January when the weather was dreich (Scots for cold, wet and miserable) and the days were short – the perfect time to read and digest good ghost stories. And these are good ghost stories written by a man who became famous for them, writing one each Christmas for The Scotsman newspaper.

The stories are introduced by Alistair Kerr (author of Betrayal:The murder of Robert Nairac GC) and in this introduction he gives a good and detailed account of the life and background of WC Dickinson. Dickinson himself was a renowned Scottish historian so he had access to the material required to make up a good ghost story, murders, Clan feuds, old castles with distinctly dodgy reputations; bring these all together and we have a series of 14 short stories mostly set in a time when candles were the preferred source of illumination. One can almost see the light from the wick flickering on the walls as the stories progress.

Like most really good ghost stories, there is an element of fact or historical myth surrounding it to make the tale that much more authentic. The author also has the knack of keeping the reader hanging on his words to try and find out what was the cause of the tale. These are well written stories, even if the language is not totally of our era, and are very easy to read. They are not long, designed to be on a page or two of a newspaper, so this is a book that can be picked up to fill in an hour or so; but be prepared to have some thoughts left after reading to make you wonder what that creaking noise was, did you actually hear a knocking sound or feel a cold draught on your neck!!!?

I thoroughly enjoyed these stories and if you like being very well entertained, and in some cases, informed, then these stories are for you. I recommend this book for reading during periods like the current winter spell where one is stuck in the house with one’s own thoughts – or are you hearing things.......?

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