In a rather short amount of time, Reggie Oliver has become one of my all-time favorite horror writers. I previously covered the first eight stories of his which I’d ever read a while back ( https://horrordelve.com/2019/05/19/the-eerie-tales-of-reggie-oliver/ ) and want to continue that on by looking at twelve more I’ve read since that time.
My friend and fellow blogger Jay Rothermel has extensively covered Reggie Oliver’s short story collections over at his blog which you can find here: http://jayrothermel.blogspot.com/search?q=Reggie+Oliver
The Stories (Listed by Publication Order):
1. “The Dreams of Cardinal Vittorini” (2001) – An old manuscript recounts the mysterious life and death of Cardinal Vittorini, a pious man who became obsessed with eradicating a subversive sect of people who worship ignorance as their god. His delving into their beliefs in order to hunt them down begin to take hold on his mind, plaguing his dreams with visions of Hell and driving him to pursue his crusade with increasing fervor. I love the way this story unveils its mysteries.
2. “The Compete Symphonies of Adolf Hitler” (2005) – An academic who collects CDs of classical music stumbles across a nondescript boxed set in a music store labeled as The Complete Symphonies of Adolf Hitler. He studies it and comes to realize it’s legit. After buying it, he takes it home for a listen, but an old man follows him and begins demanding he takes the set back, saying it was sold in error. The music begins to have a strange effect on the academic as his life soon takes a tragic turn.
3. “A Nightmare Sang” (2005) – A successful playwright named Pinson attends a performance of one of his plays while taking a vacation in an unfamiliar town named Bidmouth. The actors insist he stay longer and put him up in a place called Spyhole Cottage. He soon begins to realize this quirky cadre of thespians are part of something far darker than mere theater.
4. “A Christmas Card” (2005) – A divorced, antique collector with few friends finds a vintage, pristine Christmas card for sale at a market. The dealer gives him a deep discount when he inquires about the cost. Even with this great deal of an acquisition, he can’t take joy in it as he’s in deep mourning for the sudden death of his beloved nine year old daughter in a car crash. This leads him to decide he has nothing to live for any longer. This unique card proves to be more than it seems when he reaches his darkest hour.
5. “The Game of Bear” by Reggie Oliver and M.R. James (2009) – Reggie Oliver completes this partial story which was began by the legendary ghost story master M. R. James. It’s about a man who receives some books from a woman following her death. One of the them is an old children’s book that has a rhyme about a something called The Game of Bear with some disturbing lyrics and artwork attached to it.
6. “Mr. Pigsny” (2011) – A Cambridge professor meets a a very odd, short man named Mr. Pigsny while attending the funeral of a college professor’s gangster uncle. He presents the professor with a bizarre painting of the deceased uncle residing in Hell. Mr. Pigsny continues to make appearances which become increasingly more threatening as he attempts to get family members to sign documents written in indecipherable script.
7. “Lord of the Fleas” (2012) – Unfolding through a series of letters written by a young woman named Anna Whitby to a cousin of hers, along with a few news clippings and book citations, this novella follows the terrible events leading to Anna’s forced marriage to a creepy, occultist named Thomas Moreby and her confinement in his home. She’s forced to accept the marriage to Moreby despite her distaste for him in order to save her father from ruin but finds many dark secrets hidden inside his house where she’s constantly watched by his mindless servants. She soon comes to realize that the despicable Moreby has some very disturbing plans for her. This is an excellent gothic tale which felt to me like a mix of Bram Stoker’s classic novel Dracula with the Sheridan Le Fanu story “Shalcken the Painter”.
8. “Charm” (2012) – In this novelette, a couple rent a house in the Cotswolds called Stonehill from a peculiar old man named Roddy Foxe-Walter. Foxe-Walter, who claims to be a baronet, was once a minor celebrity attending all the local drinking parties of the 70’s. An aloof braggart, he still has the ability to charm people with his stories. He lives in a house on the grounds of Stonehill and begins to infuse himself in their lives, taking particular interest in the wife. The house has a dark history attached to it of which Foxe-Walter was involved.
9. “Come Into My Parlour” (2013) – A young boy falls under the wrath of his malignant Aunt Harriet, who uses a book titled A Child’s Treasury of Instructive and Improving Verse filled with eerie illustrations and unsettling poems. The book has an adverse effect on the boy when he refuses to steal something from his father for her.
10. “The Druid’s Rest” (2014) – Two young women on a bike trip are forced to seek shelter from a storm in a town called Capel Drudion. The only lodging they are able to find is at a disused inn called Druid’s Rest, but the owner initially refuses to rent them a room until they convince him he that legally he must. The owner is a huge man named Rhys-Griffiths. He’s a verbose, constantly self-aggrandizing man who seems to be attempting to suppress his underlying, threatening demeanor. Rhys-Griffins is a bizarrely intriguing character in this excellent, very spooky tale.
11. “The Ballet of Dr. Caligari” (2016) – This novelette follows a young up-and-coming music composer Charles May who’s hired by the legendary ballet choreographer Daniel Vernon to create the score for an adaptation of the old silent film The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari. Things are strange though, as Vernon is an eccentric character who seems obsessed with a former dancer of his who’s been in a coma since being involved in a terrible accident. This is an intriguing, elegant tale with an underlining strangeness to it.
12. “The Endless Corridor” (2017) – While researching the works of 18th century poet named William Sothern for a book, a scholar uncovers uncanny events the poet encountered upon visiting an abandoned Benedictine monastery.
Article by Matt Cowan