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Top 10 Tales of Mystery and the Macabre this Christmas

Posted on 28th October 2019 by Mark Skinner

What Christmas would be complete without a haunting yarn of supernatural shenanigans and chill dread? As the long winter nights draw in, settle down with these masterful invocations of the macabre.    

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Ghostland deftly interweaves the intimate and personal with the historical and cultural, tracing a dimly-lit path through the landscapes that inspired the likes of M.R. James and Alan Garner, and resulted in classic folk horror cinema such as Witchfinder General and The Wicker Man. A darkly atmospheric and oddly moving book about the heritage of the past and the hunger for belonging.
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The multi-talented Queen of Crime was also a highly effective writer of supernatural tales, as the twenty stories gathered in The Last Séance ably demonstrate. Ranging from before Christie’s breakthrough success with Hercule Poirot to later in her illustrious career, this collection retains the power to unnerve and disquiet and stands as testament to Christie’s under-rated versatility.
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Woozily atmospheric and ineffably creepy, Bone China is another mesmerising offering from the Queen of Victorian gothic, Laura Purcell. Quack cures on the Cornish coast and dark rumblings about evil faeries combine to lend this tale of mania and madness a deliciously sinister aspect.
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The brooding, pervasive aura of the Suffolk fens permeates every nook and cranny of Michelle Paver’s grippingly gothic historic tale of madness, witchcraft and family enmity. Paver proves herself adept in drawing out both the enthralling beauty and the dangerous potential of an uncanny landscape, using it to tease out the fear and malevolence in the lives of those it touches.
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Although better known for her realist classics The Age of Innocence and Ethan Frome, Edith Wharton was also a master of the ghost story. The spooky and sinister tales collected in this exquisitely designed edition are amongst the classics of the genre, and still retain their power to terrify and unnerve.
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Channelling the malevolent spirit of And Then There Were None, Ryan’s spine-tingling spooky whodunit sees a spiritualist meeting on a remote island descend into murder and madness. Finely tuned into the gothic sensibility, House of Ghosts is a twisty chiller that will get under your skin and into your head.
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Following The Essex Serpent was always going to be a tall order but Sarah Perry succeeds gloriously with this bold and eerie recasting of Charles Maturin's gothic classic, Melmoth the Wanderer. As a silent, lonely figure with bleeding feet stalks the guilty and conscience-racked, Melmoth provides a chilling portrait of life poised between absolution and the darkness that calls.
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The most chilling and atmospheric tales from a true pioneer of supernatural fiction, this collection of M.R. James’ ghost stories makes for delightfully spooky reading on a dark winter’s night. Haunted landscapes and eerie objects abound as human reason is confounded by visions, spectres and ghouls.
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A timely and enlightening volume that casts a ghoulish light on the many and varied women who have contributed to the rich heritage of supernatural and speculative fiction. From engaging pen portraits of Shelley, du Maurier and Jackson to fascinating accounts of little known pioneers, Monster, She Wrote is a beautifully presented compendium of spooky scribes.
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A masterclass, from bestselling author Sarah Hall, in the art of the short, unnerving novel; a story of forbidden borders, haunted landscapes and bodies in danger. A chilling narrative of past secrets, violence and ritual, building to a harrowing climax.
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