Book Review: The Ghost Club: Newly Found Tales of Victorian Terror by William Meikle

“Take a seat at the dinner table, but be warned … the price for your presence there will haunt you.”


The Ghost Club: Newly Found Tales of Victorian Terror is a very interesting premise for a collection. It’s supposed to be a hidden book of tales written by history’s greatest storytellers who were a part of a secret literary dining club. The price to become a member of this elite group, the ghost club, was simple; one must tell a story of terror. Masters such as Robert Louis Stevenson, Rudyard Kipling, Leo Tolstoy and Bram Stoker and many more have gathered around a dinner table on dark nights, trying to scare each other, and luckily each story has been transcribed by a mischievous ghost writer who is none other than literary giant Arthur Conan Doyle. He also adds commentary before each story, setting up the events of each storytelling and adds a personal touch to the entire collection. The group was founded by Doyle, Stoker and the American writer Henry James, and their table was quite busy, hosting the best of the best of their time. It holds such a bounty of great stories it could easily entertain readers of many brands of horror.

It opens with a story in the voice of Robert Louis Stevenson. ‘Wee Davie Makes a Friend’ is about a gravely ill child who is sent to his uncle’s house in hopes of getting better but the isolation of being bed ridden drives him to the brink of insanity. When he is given a gift of a wooden soldier, he finds a companion at last. Young Davie will do anything not to lose his only friend.

Things go bump in the night in ‘The High Bungalow’, a tale by Rudyard Kipling. Adventurous and rugged is Captain Mackie who takes a married woman away to a secluded bungalow for a tryst when things get eerie. He begins to hear knocking and upon following the sound he locates a mystery hidden beneath the floorboards.

It is Leo Tolstoy’s story that follows, ‘The Immortal Memory’ is a ghostly tale of a demanding empress and the Scotsman ordered to obey. She requests a special guest for her ball, an almost impossible request with such little time, but the price is his head.

In the ‘House of the Dead’ by Bram Stoker is a tale of a young widower who lost not only his wife but the baby she was carrying. In true Stoker fashion the story chills the reader and makes them really ponder what they would do if given the chance to reunite with someone they lost.

‘Once a Jackass’ by Mark Twain is the next story. A man is in need of insurance for his boat, a vessel that will make him a pretty penny, but he has to first withstand dealing with a man he despises from the minute they shake hands. The insurance man is the greatest jackass ever, especially after he’s caught counting cards. The main character needs the insurance for the Princess of the river but the Jackass also has to get what he deserves. The night turns disastrous afterwards.

Herbert George Wells is up next with, ‘Farside’. Dr. Hoskins dances on the edge of science and the supernatural. A demonstration points to the death of a friend and what lingers afterward is doom to the rest of them.

‘To the Manor Born’ by Margaret Oliphant is as stated by our transcriber a perfect country house mystery. It’s the story of a singing spirit, her child, and their end.

Oscar Wilde brings his story to the table in ‘The Angry Ghost’. It’s about a young boy whose know-it-all aunt assures him there is no such thing as ghosts. The trouble is he knows they are real, very real.

‘The Black Ziggurat’ by Henry Rider Haggard brings adventure and danger to a homesick hunting guide who just wants to leave Africa and return to his home but fate’s has other plans for the poor man after his is hired as an interpreter and guide. The journey becomes a treasure hunt when the party is rescued from a dire situation but what they find is not gold and jewels but death.

We meet Alexi in, ‘Born of Ether’, by Helena P. Blavatsky. He is a seeker and a dreamer, hoping to find more in life than the aristocracy has to offer but when he meets a traveler upon an astral road. His life is turned upside down when a figure begins to follow him; he can’t escape it because it’s as close as his own shadow.

‘The Scrimshaw Set’ by Henry James tells the story of John Galloway. He purchases an elaborate chess set and quickly becomes obsessed with it and the odd inscriptions carved in it. A friend comes to his aid as his mind begins to deteriorate but the draw of the Scrimshaw set is powerful and the truth behind it only comes when it’s far too late.

‘At The Molenzki Junction’ by Anton Checkov is as haunting as the whistling of a lone train in the night. Petyr leaves his post at the Molenzki junction and sets out to find a village where he can replenish his stash of vodka but the winter and the wolves of the surrounding forest don’t intend for the junction master to ever return to his lonesome job of overseeing the trains until an odd woman comes to his rescue, he lives but is changed forever.

Alain is determined to go where no man has gone before in ‘The Moon and Beyond’ by Jules Verne. His dreams of exploring the moon are nearly dashed due to his lack of money but when he proves his abilities his expedition is financed. He embarks on an unbelievable mission and finds something astonishing on its surface, something that haunts his every moment.  His success is overshadowed by his obsession with that pale orb hanging in the sky and rabidly seeks his return.

Arthur Conan Doyle finishes the collection with his story, ‘The Curious Affair on the Embankment’. An inspector is called to investigate a kidnapping but his work leads him to discover the truth behind Lady Mear’s disappearance.

Each story portrays the unique voice of each author displaying William Meikle’s talent and dedication to his audience, and his love for the legends of the genre itself.  Meikle is no stranger to putting out some killer work and has been published by the likes of Dark Regions Press, Dark Renaissance and Crystal Lake Publishing. He has had over twenty novels and more than three hundred short stories published in thirteen countries and after over twenty five years he’s still going strong. The Ghost Club is proof of that. This collection is sure to please longtime fans and also garner new ones as well. Grab it today and take a step into the past, let the spirits of your favorite writers speak to you their tales of Victorian terror. Take a seat at the dinner table, but be warned … the price for your presence there will haunt you.

                                                                                                                                                 MICHELLE GARZA



Publisher:  Crystal Lake Publishing
Paperback: (189pps)
Release date: 9 December 2017

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