Published in 1886, Spring Heeled Jack: The Terror of London is a rare example of what is historically known as the "penny dreadful," a cheaply, mass produced pamphlet aimed at the lower classes for their reading pleasure.
Ironically, though there were many penny dreadfuls published, few have survived because of the cheapness of the paper.
Historically, Spring Heeled Jack was either an apparition or an urban legend (depending on your personal viewpoint) who terrorized London and its environs from 1837 to 1904, a British version of the Jersey Devil.
This story reveals Spring Heeled Jack as a young man wronged out of his inheritance and, in an attempt to get it back, dons an odd costume and a technologically advanced boot that gives him the ability to jump great distances.
Like any penny dreadful, it is full of drama and melodrama and is worth the short read for a tale that sounds reminiscent of America's Batman.
C. Alan Loewen
Written in 1861, this short book is a collection of epitaphs found in graveyards in the British Isles.
Ranging from humorous to tragic, from bearing awful puns to downright sarcastic, it is amazing what people allow on their tombstones, the most cynical epitaph being the gravestone remarking on the purity and innocence of the twelve-year-old child buried beneath, but some wiseacre added the inscription saying that she had not yet reached the age of thirteen.
As you can see by the rest of the reviews, you will either hate this book or you will love it. In spite of its flaws, this reviewer enjoyed it.
All of the famous Beat authors have a presence here: Jack Kerouac and Neal Casaday being the two main protagonists with William Burroughs jumping in later in the story.
I am hard pressed to call it a parody. I don't think anybody could read the seventh chapter and not say this novel is solidly placed in the arena of horror. I would rather call it a pastiche of Kerouac that takes place in the cosmos of H. P. Lovecraft.
This book just might be your five-star review or you may give up after the first two chapters.
Only one way to find out.
C. Alan Loewen
Algernon Blackwood (1869-1951) was a prolific short story writer and novelist and had a huge impact on many different authors, one being H. P. Lovecraft himself who heaped praise on the man, especially his story The Willows. Interestingly, Blackwood was a strong critic of Lovecraft’s work (see Mike Ashley’s biography of Blackwood for confirmation).
The Man Whom The Trees Loved is a fantasy novella and this reviewer is hard pressed to call it a horror story. At the most it is more akin to dark fantasy, yet still an interesting read about a woman trying to save her husband’s soul from his enchantment with the forest that borders their home.