Leinster Gardens and Other Subtleties
The ghost stories of Jan Edwards
Introduction by David A Sutton
Cover by Peter Coleborn
Here are fourteen short stories from Jan Edwards, including the BFS award short-listed ‘Otterburn’:
Concerning Events at Leinster Gardens: He handed the maid his hat and replaced it with a coronet of silk holly leaves and tinsel. She gave him only the smallest raise of an eyebrow. ‘Ghost of Christmas Present,’ he said…
The Waiting: She picked up the hem of her night-dress and ran the length of the gallery. She wanted to race them to the door, to greet her father. Why, then, did a tiny part of her hesitate? Why should she be afraid? From the landing she heard the doors of the great hall being flung open…
The Ballad of Lucy Lightfoot: This had been in the planning for a very long time, for centuries – to the where and the when that the Wite had sent her. Across an entire continent to the edges of the Ottoman lands, to a place and time long before the Lightfoot name had ever begun. Her children, and her children’s children, for more generations than she could count, were dust. Only she remained.
From the introduction: “…Ghost stories, adeptly told, often with a sense of locale and time neatly placed within the narratives. Her family history informs and inspires some of her stories. Folklore figures as a focus in more than one story, whether urban myth or historical lore. But ghostly they are and deceptively disturbing.”
- An Insinuation of Shades by David A Sutton
- Concerning the Events in Leinster Gardens
- The Waiting
- Nanna Barrows
- April Love
- The Ballad of Lucy Lightfoot
- R for Roberta
- Redhill Residential
- The Clinic
- Wade’s Run
- The Eve Watch
- The Black Hound of Newgate
Leinster Gardens and Other Subtleties is available via Amazon and other online retailers.
A truly haunting collection of stories that inspire and terrify at the same time. There is, however, more to this book than a mere spine tingling. The chills are subtle which is why they linger in the imagination, but there is sadness too and vivid depiction of characters that the reader identifies with. As an avid reader of this genre, I really can’t recommend this book highly enough. — Misha Dragonfire
This is a lovely collection of stories that delve into the darker side of the imagination at times. It’s written keenly and with thought to ensure each and every twist and turn are understood by the reader without spoon feeding the plot. Each of the tales are as different from each other as the next making it a collection with something for everyone. —Barry Lillie
There is really nothing bad to say about this book at all. This is not light beach reading, but stories to be savored while drinking Earl Grey tea on a rainy day. I highly recommend this to anyone wanted to savour some British ghost stories! — The Dunwich Review
This is a clever assortment of spooky, mysterious, folk, supernatural, historic and ultra-modern urban stories. There are stories for many tastes, and my favourite has to be the one that includes a letter in it (to find out which one it is, one would have to read them all!). This short story is… well, short, but it feels so personal; and it is surprising how the author managed to tell something so touching within such a limited number (only nine) of pages. It could be easily adapted for the screen. At the end of the book the writer recollects how each of the stories evolved, giving an intimate angle to this delightful collection. Highly recommended! — Nelli Rees
Leinster Gardens and Other Subtleties is very enjoyable collection of dark, chilling supernatural tales. Edwards writes the sort of dark fiction I enjoy the best – the clue is in the title, subtleties. The stories in this collection are unsettling, dark and disturbing but lack the gore and in-your-face horror that’s become so popular. The darkness in these stories is subtle, a hulking, half-seen shape moving about in the shadows just to the left or right of the very edge of our perception. This is what makes them so good and memorable. Some of the tales will be in my head for a long time. I just can’t quite shake the things I’ve read in these pages. Many of the tales made me shiver. My personal favourites wereConcerning the Events in Leinster Gardens, The Waiting, Orbyting and The Clinic. The stories were all excellent but these ones struck the knife in a little deeper. I’d highly recommend this collection. — Book Lover’s Boudoir
A collection of shorts that explores supernatural and ghostly themes, there is something about exploring historical events as a setting and bringing them down to the circumstances of individuals who experience the impossible. The use of historical contexts throughout these stories gives them a lingering edge and a robust quality, making you want to dash out and look up the circumstances. Edwards plays these cards cleverly and carefully, introducing you to her characters and contexts first in the majority, before playing out the fantastical and horrifying. There is a liberal dose of myth applied amidst these tales as well, leaving you considering all manner of possibilities.
Stories in this collection vary widely in length, but they are all stories, not vignettes or scenes pictured in words. The afterword gives a clear explanation as to their sources and roots and demonstrates Edwards’ meticulous attention to detail in finding local legends to draw her ideas from. Whilst she professes that she has fallen into writing supernatural fiction by accident, it clearly suits her gifts, although I certainly wouldn’t confuse these stories with other genres given the label supernatural.
Another strength of the tales is their humanity. Everything collected here balances the strangeness of the circumstances as they play out with the human context, allowing you to view the unfamiliar alongside characters you relate to. In this we have an echo of Edgar Allan Poe’s work in a sense, albeit at little less diverse in its application perhaps, but still the view of ‘subtleties’ from the position of a character we connect with.
Edwards’ stories are of the chilling variety and as such can’t be said to dwell on the gory. The sense of claustrophobia you get from many horror tales that look to make you squirm is not quite the focus of this work, although some contexts could have been taken that way – a lift from a stranger, watching a ghost in a graveyard, etc. Instead the message is more about speculation and fascination with old legends. The final story, The Black Hound of Newgate is the longest and closest to being a classically intimate horror story, but retains an innovative quality by flipping perspectives and mode of address in some scenes. This technique doesn’t feel out of place during the read, which is a testimony to the writer’s skill.
If you’re looking for a collection that shows how to work with real mythology in short stories in a variety of different lengths, this would be one to read. — Allen Stroud, SF Book Reviews