GHOSTS AND OTHER SUPERNATURAL GUESTS – 12 Gothic Tales of Haunting
P. J. Hodge spins rich, spine-chilling and beautifully written tales that tell of haunted ancestral homes, supernaturally-possessed objects and revengeful spectres that will not rest until their work is done.
Mesmerising, understated, and convincingly Victorian in tone, this is a frighteningly good collection of stories. Purchase at your own risk!
The book has received excellent reviews:
“PJ Hodge invites you to step outside your everyday world with tales that subtly entice you into a more liminal world, a world where the veils between physical measurable reality and the unexplained are drawn back to reveal unsettling truths and the inescapable terrors of the great beyond.
The tales range from childhood adventures with a tragic twist (The Viaduct); the truly horrific spectre of The Flames of Stalbridge Manor; to the heartwarming A Tip of the Hat. This is a perfect book to read, by a crackling fire, in a lonely manor house, on a dark and stormy night – was that a tree-branch tapping on the window-pane..or could it be Ghosts and other Supernatural Guests……..!”
THE HAUNTED PALACE
“His style is very much in the tradition of the likes of Ambrose Bierce and M.R. James. So if you like that sort of fiction and the sort of ghostly short films that the BBC used to show at Christmas, you will certainly enjoy this volume …Hodge blends actual local folklore and fictional tales behind the places that have inspired him. Readers of his blog will know that his love of his native southern England and its landscape is his medium. There is no historic place, ancient or recent, that seemingly has not inspired the stories he tells. There is then, something quintessentially British about the work for these reasons and the sort of stories that were his inspiration. Ideal reading for this time of year, and then read them all again at Christmas!”
SWEAT, TEARS AND DIGITAL INK
I had visited the house as a boy and such was its impact that my mind knew it well. It now stood with a timbered stoop, inching towards decrepitude, thrusting itself in parts against the underscored weeds that told a tale of storm and gale.
It was inhabited by two aging spinsters, with whom I had some dealings, and who invited me to join them, to dine and engage with their circle of friends. I well recall my walk up to the old place. It led me up a sloped lane, formidably inclined, that near wore out the leather of my shoes, and lined with beeches, to the summit which broadened out into an avenue that led to the Chase.
A splendid autumn afternoon was reaching the zenith of its bloom; the year dying with more than a hint of decadence, wrapping itself in its gorgeous robes like a high priest. On arriving at my destination the sun had softened its hold of the day, and had already dipped below the horizon, the eastern front of the house projecting an ominous black shadow at its foot. What was there in its greying facade that reminded me of the grave I cannot say; but it was indeed more than just a fleeting sense of foreboding for it never waned in the hours I remained there.
I traversed the threshold like a schoolboy forced into the care of some hideous matron; and soon, having dressed for dinner, a servant escorted me to an upper chamber, where I was left — as far as I could tell — entirely alone. No sooner had he left me than I became aware of a weird and discordant sound in the room — a sort of shuddering sound, one that I could only describe as “suppressed dread”. Continue reading →
My partner often asks me why I write ghost stories — and why I don’t write wholesome stories for children. My answer is simple: there is more horror in our local communities, on every street corner, than there is a single macabre tale. Tales of nefarious deeds and the supernatural are often vehicles for exploring human frailty; in telling them, we may help society to debate and unravel the age-old moralistic dilemmas we as humans are constantly trying to understand and define.
A bolt is thrust aside and one half of a stable door swings back. The sound of a sharp kick announces the peeling back of the second. A bulk of a man steps through carrying a thick meshed bundle of sticks and logs searching for a suitable spot to dump the damp load; his nose is held aloft, at a distance, enduring the sickly-sweet aroma of the mildewed bark. His face fidgets nervously until the wood is set down on a sheet of newspaper, neatly dragged into position by his foot. The dispatching of the load relieves his body, but his expression still retains the weary slump it entered with.
It is almost time for Manning to leave, a suitable moment to consider the sweet restorative powers of a few days by the coast. And with this thought, he finds his spirits lifting. It has been several years since he last visited Leet and walked its impressive shores; he has missed the place. No longer resisting, he succumbs to the pleasantness teasing his lips.
Perhaps you know Leet? It is a south facing sandy beach next to the entrance of the Beaulieu River in Hampshire, a landscape rich in character, with great stretches of open and unspoilt countryside.
But it is the agents of erosion that have defined this sea-place. The shore is littered with corpses: trees that have finally, but grudgingly, relinquished their fragile grip on the sandy soil, just a few metres above. Tendrils of seeping rainwater and the gnawing effect of the wind have gradually removed the earth, exposing roots to the mercy of encroaching elements. It is a natural decay, but not one that removes all evidence of existence; for old trunks lie entombed in wispy layers of sand, creating fragile barrows on the shore. In the early hours of a wintry morning, the landscape transforms into a surprisingly gloomy affair; the dead bodies of trees are thrust into the greyness, and any living thing roaming amongst the decay looks quite lost, as lost as a child. Continue reading →