FEATURE: Ben Appleby-Dean BOF | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Local author Ben Appleby-Dean has just released a new ebook (Lamplight, a contemporary ghost story) through Newcastle-based publishers Wild Wolf, and to get you in the mood, he shared his five favourite terrifying tales from unexpected sources.

The Entrance, by Gerald Durrell
Durrell is rightly famed for both his humour and his animal stories, and The Picnic and Suchlike Pandemonium seems like any of his other collections at first – eccentric relatives, rogue wildlife, and mishaps of everyday life; until you come to the final tale, in which a guest in a deserted mansion is stalked from room to room by an otherdimensional horror. You’ll be steering clear of mirrors for days.

The Red Room, by HG Wells
I love The War of the Worlds and The Invisible Man as much as the next reader,  but Wells was a broader writer than his famous science fiction would suggest, having also produced comedy and satire, journalism, biography, social commentary; and this chilling story about a red-lit room haunted not by any ghost or phantom, but by fear itself.

Man-Size in Marble, by E Nesbit
One of my favourite childhood writers (and a major influence on modern authors like JK Rowling), Nesbit is celebrated for classics like The Railway Children or Five Children and It – but she was also an accomplished writer of ghost stories, of which this is probably the best: an eerie Halloween tale of statues said to rise from their tombs.

The Watcher by the Threshhold, by John Buchan
A genre-defining writer of adventure stories and spy thrillers, Buchan is best remembered for the The Thirty-Nine Steps, but among many similar novels he also wrote a small number of short fantastical stories, the stand-out of which is this atmospheric account of demonic possession on the remote Scots moors. Be wary of the shadow that walks at your left hand…

The Signalman, by Charles Dickens
Dickens is famous for one ghost story, but A Christmas Carol has been scientifically proven incapable of scaring anyone over the age of seven (with the possible exception of bankers), and his other forays into the supernatural are similarly cosy and unthreatening – with one notable exception. The Signalman manages to convey more haunted menace in eleven pages than most horror writers manage with hundreds.

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