Literary Halloween Reads: Barbara Comyns

It's countdown to one of every literary person's favorite holidays (because seriously, who does not love a great ghost story?)  Naturally, we can return to the fabulous Edgar, he of the Raven, and get out our flashlights.But I have a few other literary-minded suggestions, to be posted over the next few days.

For starters, you can do no better than the weird, frightening novels of the English author, Barbara Comyns.  Why this superb writer is not better known is beyond me.  I would say that she deserves a revival, but the fact that, as far as I know, she was never popular.  Yet another woman writer neglected.  (I discovered her through Peter Cameron's wonderful blog.)

But on to her scary, terrific novels.

 If you are in the mood for a scare, look no further than THE VET'S DAUGHTER.  It's out in a New York Review Classics Paperback, with a fine introduction by Kathryn Davis.

The story is told from the point of view of a shy girl, Alice, whose father is a man of stormy, cruel moods whose source the reader can only guess at.  After the death of Alice's mother, a crass mother-in-law enters the scene and tries to mold Alice anew.  And at that point, Alice acquires mysterious, floating powers.

 Comyns blends the supernatural with the realities of child abuse, seamless and spookily, with page-turning suspense. And the ending-- well, I'll leave you to discover what a fantastic ending Comyns concocts.



Also, I am thrilled that Amazon has released the amazing THE JUNIPER TREE in a Kindle edition.  I'll hop over soon, and add the digital copy to my library. I have sent friends copies of this amazing book.

Some of you may know the Grimm Brothers tale, "The Juniper Tree,"  It's a mysterious tale in itself (about a step-mother who murders her step-son.)

Comyns, in her plain-spoken, stripped-down prose, re-works the narrative from the point of view of a beautiful, but physically scarred, young woman.  Comyns, as ever, disdains psychology and dives right into evil. You won't sleep, I promise.  

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