A Bracelet of Bright Hair
Jane Jakeman

Sarob Press 2011, £ 25
Review by Mario Guslandi

Nothing is better than a book of classy British ghost stories to spend the long, winter evenings in the cosiness of our home, comfortably sitting in our favorite armchair, pleasantly disquieted yet safely far from real dangers.

If you’re short of such material and you have already exhausted your supply of MR James, Le Fanu, The Benson brothers etc etc and you need something new (and good) in the genre, I strongly advise you to secure a copy of Jane Jakeman’s A Bracelet of Bright Hair, a delightful collection of eight new stories by a contemporary author of dark fiction.

In the short but effective “Lock Me Out” a librarian has to face an unspeakable horror from the other side of the grave, while in “Neon” a man is haunted by a beggar coming from a long gone past.

“Vrykolakas” is a scary tale about a vampire-like creature, conveying an acute, long lasting sense of dread, and “River” is a creepy ghost story revolving around an apartment by the river where mist and revenants taint the air.

In the clever vignette “Adoptagrave” a girl is cajoled to take care of a neglected grave in a country churchyard.

“The House With No History” is a rather weak tale where the nature of the ghost is a bit implausible and the whole plot not quite convincing. By contrast “The Edge of the Knife” is an unnerving, accomplished piece where the kitchen of a college is haunted by an evil spirit.

My favorite story is “Survival of the Fittest” an extremely dark tale set in the gloomy atmosphere of a London poor neighborhood where life is bleak and the dead are restless.

Jakeman’s narrative style is elegant but essential, capable of creating subtly dark atmospheres in a few sentences. Enjoy.

About Mario Guslandi

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