GHOST GLEAMS: TALES OF THE UNCANNY BY WILLIAM J. WINTLE (1921) REVIEW

GHOST GLEAMS: TALES OF THE UNCANNY is a collection of short stories by William J. Wintle which was published by Heath Cranton in 1921. Born in 1861, Wintle distinguished himself as a versatile writer before becoming an Oblate for the Abbey of Caldey Island near Whales. It was there that he wrote these tales, specifically for the enjoyment of eight boys who attended there. In the forward of this collection, Wintle notes that the stories were originally told on Sunday nights while “crouching over a wood fire on a wind-swept island off the Western shore.”

Wintle stories here are filled with secret passageways, cursed objects, disembodied voices and supernatural mysteries of all sorts. Some of them have a similarity to them but there are some stand outs too, such as “Red Rosary”, “The Chamber of Doom”, “The Black Cat”, “The Horror of Horton House”, and my personal favorite, “The Ghost of the Blue Dragon”.

The Stories:

1. “Red Rosary” – A man, who collects artifacts used in religious practices of uncivilized cultures, obtains a rare one called the Red Rosary. It’s like a Catholic rosary but made out of rough jewels, one of which is shaped like a snake’s head. It has a history of bringing bad fortune to anyone who possesses it and seems to move on its own.

2. “When the Twilight Fell” – A man staying at a friend’s Grange witnesses several spectral encounters, including candle flames that turn blue, an old book which moves on its own, and even the ghostly face of Henry VIII looking in through a window.

3. “House on the Cliff” – A man asks to use a friend’s remote cabin atop a cliff overlooking the water. The friend agrees but warns him that the house is haunted and that he plans to pull it down. During his stay the friend catches glimpses of a shadowy presence that stays just out of view and hears muted laughter. He also notices what appears to be the footprints of an enormous bird.

4. “The Ghost at the Blue Dragon” – A man realizes he’s acquired a malicious doppleganger after staying at The Blue Dragon. This evil double of his begins by damaging his reputation, but later its attacks become more deadly. This is one of the few great stories featuring this type of creature. Highly recommended!

5. “The Spectre Spiders” – An unscrupulous money lender begins to see shadowy spiders darting around inside his house but can never get a clear view of them. As time goes on, they grow in size, number and solidity.

6. “When Time Stood Still” – After finding a remote area by a hidden cave entrance, a man begins going there daily to read. The place fills him with an odd sense of antiquity as he begins to see Prehistoric beasts traveling through the nearby forest.

7. “The Chamber of Doom” – A young Earl takes charge of the family castle, deciding to ignore the belief that the secret chamber hidden behind a wall in the gallery brings doom upon those who open it. Opening the wall releases something evil. This story (similar to Joseph Payne Brennan’s “The Horror at Chilton Castle”) seems to borrow heavily from the ancient legends attached to real life Glamis Castle.

8. “The Black Cat” – A man with an innate fear of cats begins to see one everywhere, as a heap of earth and a moving shadow. It appears to be stalking him during the Christmas season.

9. “Father Thornton’s Visitor” – A priest sees a strange shadow in the garden of his parsonage when looking out his window at night by the moonlight. Eventually, the shadow forms into a man who walks through solid doors and fades away when encountered.

10. “The Footsteps on the Stairs” – An unscrupulous merchant begins to notice a mysterious figure lurking around his place of business. He also hears its footsteps only to find no one there. He worries about the attention these distractions might bring from the authorities.

11. “The Horror of Horton House” – A lord of Horton House is curious about a grim poem etched above a mantle in a dining room that contains a mysterious secret passageway that leads nowhere. He sees red eyes staring at him from inside the passage, and a fiery, six-fingered hand reaches out from it to grab him.

12. “The Haunted House on the Hill” – A man moves into a house on a hill occupied by a friend and his servants. They all experience unexplainable things, such as an old woman wearing outdated clothes who vanishes at will, disembodied voices and footsteps, etc. They eventually piece together the reason why the place’s spectral occupants still walk its halls.

13. “The Voice in the Night” – Children and livestock are stalked by a mysterious wolf in a small town, but a girl who survives its attack swears it was an old woman who tried to bite her instead of a wolf.

14. “The Light in the Dormitory” – When an old building in a monastery is put to use as a dormitory following years of disuse, the ghostly figure of a monk is seen walking it with a light shaped like a cross floating above it.

15. “The Watcher in the Mill” – After inheriting a house, a no-nonsense man keeps seeing signs someone’s been staying in a room in the abandoned mill on his property. He tries to find out who it is, and failing that, works to secure it against entry. The malicious entity inhabiting the mill seems to enjoy toying with the mill’s new owner.

 

I purchased my copy through Amazon Kindle from Black Heath Gothic for less than $2:00. http://www.amazon.com/Ghost-Gleams-Uncanny-Sensation-Supernatural-ebook/dp/B00PPJHSDI/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1422115840&sr=1-1&keywords=ghost+gleams

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