I recently added two more stories to The Legacy of Ghost Hunter Fiction: A Chronological Bibliography. The first was a surprise in that I didn’t expect it to be as good as it is. The second is great, and that didn’t surprise me, given the author.
The surprise is “The Haunted Tower of Silvery,” an anonymous tale published in an 1869 issue of Boys of England. The title of the magazine, I confess, led me to have low expectations. I’ve unearthed more than one piece of ghost hunter fiction that’s clearly meant for young readers, and they tend to have “rational explanation” endings that are pretty easy to see coming. Henry S. Doane’s “Shot through the Heart: A Tale of Boston,” from 1855, is probably the best example of this type. I can’t recommend Doane’s adventure.
But I enjoyed “The Haunted Tower of Silvery.” It’s not necessarily aimed at children. Sure, it is easy to predict the ending — but it’s still a fairly distinctive and historically interesting ending. I mustn’t say anything more, but this illustration will give you an idea.While the second story wasn’t a surprise, it is a real prize. I thank ghost-story-hunter Nina Zumel for suggesting it. (Be sure to visit Multi (Ghost), her blog!) The tale is “The Toll-House,” by W.W. Jacobs, who is far better known as the author of “The Monkey’s Paw.”
Jacobs’ ghost hunter tale appears in Sailor’s Knots, a collection of his short stories printed in 1909. The book’s illustrations and the surrounding stories might make “The Toll-House” appear as if it’s going to be light, if not comic. But it’s not.
And that’s all I have to say about that matter. Still, here’s an illustration from that story.
My ghost hunter fiction bibliography is slowly growing, and I’m always interested in recommendations. Remember, though, that I’m being specific when I say ghost hunter fiction, and I’m looking for those characters who voluntarily enter sites alleged to be haunted.