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THEY RETURN AT EVENING by H. R. Wakefield, With an Introduction by Barbara Roden. Ashcroft, BC, Canada; Ash-Tree Press; 2005. (A reprint of Ash-Tree Press's 1995 edition).

ISBN: 1-55310-066-2; xxii + 170pp

The decomposing ghost of a murdered wife; the spectre of a dog, which answers to the most terrifying of whistles; evil in the tradition of M. R. James's 'Casting the Runes', as a lawyer seeks to avenge the death of a friend. . . . These, and many more, are the ghosts which H. R. Wakefield has set to haunt us in his first book of supernatural stories, a landmark collection, first re-published by Ash-Tree Press in 1995, the first time since its original publication in 1928, and now reprinted by popular demand.

Wakefield's ghost stories have been compared to those of M. R. James, but this is an over-simplification: Wakefield's particular brand of terror is unique. But Wakefield did agree with James as to the need for malevolence, as is shown by this wording from the dust wrapper of the book's first edition:

'The Author of "The Ghost Stories of an Antiquary" in the preface to one of his books expressed his lively distaste for benevolent ghosts, and ghosts with nice minds. The author profoundly agrees with this sentiment of the master, and, furthermore, he abominates the "natural" explanation, a poisonous anti-climax. So this much can be said for his tales, that those Who Return therein are animated by undiluted malevolence, and no iconoclastic materialist has been allowed to cast a doubt on their credentials as genuine apparitions.'

This new edition has been completely re-set to conform with today's Ash-Tree style.

CONTENTS: Preface to the new edition; Introduction by Barbara Roden; That Dieth Not; Of Persons Unknown; 'He Cometh and He Passeth By!'; Professor Pownall's Oversight; The Third Coach; The Red Lodge; 'And He Shall Sing. . . .'; The Seventeenth Hole at Duncaster; A Peg On Which To Hang; An Echo.

Artwork is by Paul Lowe. Fine in fine dj.