Short Story Reviews: Ghost Stories by M.R. James

Like last year, I read a few short spooky stories by M.R. James for my Halloween read for 2021.

These are what I read: Canon Alberic’s Scrap-Book and The Uncommon Prayer-Book. Although both were good, they did not unseat my favourite M.R. James ghost story which I’ve read to date: The Mezzotint (see my review of that from last year here).

In Canon Alberic’s Scrap-Book we are given an atmospheric description of an old church and the strange “…hunted and oppressed air…” of it’s caretaker. In this tale, it is first the place and then the behaviour of the people in the story, which causes the tension to rise. And when an offer of a silver crucifix and chain is made as a gift, you can’t help but wonder who or what the main character might need protecting from…

Canon Alberic’s Scrap-Book – 3 / 5

In The Uncommon Prayer-Book, the artefact in question is a rare edition of a Book of Common Prayer, which is kept in an out-of-the-way little church affixed to an old manor house, in an out-of-the-way little village. The book was commissioned by an elderly woman with a hatred of Oliver Cromwell, and who purportedly haunts the book, which I find both wonderful and chilling all at once! But when the book is stolen, you just know the story isn’t going to end well…

The Uncommon Prayer-Book – 4 / 5

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