Saturday, 31 October 2009

Tales of Terror from the Black Ship

Happy Halloween to all those who celebrate it!



The perfect accompaniment to Halloween is a creepy book for the RIP IV challenge and my final book for that was Tales of Terror from the Black Ship by Chris Priestley.



The storm of the century is raging. Cathy and Ethan live with their father in The Old Inn which perches on top of a cliff, attached to the mainland of Cornwall by only a very narrow path. In a storm like this they are, to all intents and purposes, cut off. Which presents a problem. Both children are very sick indeed and need a doctor. Their father goes out into the tempest to fetch one, leaving the children alone. He's gone for a very long time and Cathy and Ethan become well enough to get up. They want to go and find him but the storm is still raging. Suddenly, there is a loud knock on the door - they have a visitor, one Jonah Thackeray, a sailor.

Thackeray keeps the children company through the night, regaling them with macabre stories of a very grisly nature. They hear about vampire passengers, sea snails on the march (ugh, ugh UGH!), murders, ghostly black ships, a strange child cast adrift in a dinghy and picked up by the crew of a ship, a weird piece of scrimshaw carved with a scene that changes according to where the owner is, and so on. And then there's the final twist involving the two children listening to the tales...

I think, for me, that author Chris Priestley is one of my discoveries of the year. His simply told but creepier than creepy stories are just fantastic. There are no happy endings here, these stories are meant to chill, and chill they do. I loved the first book in his ghostly series, Uncle Montague's Tales of Terror, but this one is even better. Possibly that's because I do love a sea-faring story, I'm not sure, I just know that I was blown away by this group of stories, beautifully written in the best tradition of ghost story telling. I already have his third book, Tales of Terror from the Tunnel's Mouth and like Black Ship it's calling to me and I'm having trouble resisting. It would make brilliant Christmas reading but I'm not sure if I can hold out that long.

And because it's Halloween... more gargoyles from Knightshaye's Court near Tiverton:






October 2009.

~~~oooOooo~~~

11 comments:

Book Psmith said...

I am glad to know that his second book is even better. I will be saving this read for next year. Happy Halloween!

FleurFisher said...

Isn't it wonderful?! I'm looking at volume 3 too and I really don't think I'm going to be able to resist.

DesLily said...

we don't always have that sort of response to books we read and so it's oh so special when we do!

gargoyles almost around the corner from you?!! Eeeeek ! lol...great shots Cath.. but those won't make me rush on over lol lol

Cath said...

Book Psmith: yes, this one is every bit as good as Uncle Montague. I was completely delighted with it. Happy Halloween to you too!

FleurFisher: I'm certain I'm not going to be able to resist for long. I enjoy books set 'underground' anyway...

Hi Pat! I'm always so pleased to be smitten with a book because, like you said, it doesn't happen that often. I often like books, but don't necessarily 'love' them.

Oh Knightshayes is worth seeing - very gothic... lots of gargoyles. Heheh.

Danielle said...

Hope you had a nice Halloween, too. My niece is handing out candy tonight. I love those photos--what great gargoyles! I keep seeing this book around but I never took the time to read what it's about--I'm going to look out for it now!

Nymeth said...

Love the photos!

I started Uncle Montague this weekend and I can already tell I want to read everything Chris Priestley has written :D

Cath said...

Danielle: this particular National Trust property is absolutely peppered with gargoyles and inside it's all Arts and Crafts movement. I feel lucky to have it right on my doorstep.

I hope you enjoy Priestley's books if you decide to try them. There are so few modern ghost story writers of merit that it's almost thrilling to discover a new one.

Nymeth: Glad you like the photos.

Can't wait to hear your thoughts on Uncle Montague!

Booklogged said...

You keep introducing me to fun new authors and books. These stories sound very eerie.

Isn't amazing that those gargoyles that stick way out from the building have stayed in tact with all the buffeting of weather? I can remember where we were visiting but we were told that the architect put faces of his enemies on the gargoyles of his building. I wondered whose faces were on those you showed.

Cath said...

Booklogged: these stories are more than eerie - they're quite macabre and not really for very young children or the faint hearted. LOL.

I think gargoyles do get weathered but somehow they manage to stay intact. Yeah, I remember reading somewhere that people put the face of their enemies on gargoyles too. So funny.

Book pusher said...

I am now really interested in checking out Tales of Terror from the Black Ship. Gargoyles are just great, love the photos.

Cath said...

Book pusher: Glad you liked the photos. The book is really worth checking out.