Tales of Terror from the Tunnel's Mouth
London, Bloomsbury, 2011, 277p
Tomorrow is World Book Day, and I am honoured to have Chris Priestley visiting my school. I cannot wait to hear his gruesome tales and see our students shiver in terror! So I have been reading through some of my favourite Priestley books, including Tales of Terror from the Tunnel's Mouth.
Robert is taking the train back to school, on his own for the first time. Accompanying him in the same carriage is a mysterious Woman in White; and when the train stops unexpectedly in a tunnel, she entertains the boy by telling him supernatural and scary stories. Robert is initially very logical and rational, listening to the stories with pessimism, but soon finds they are creeping into his subconscious and lulling him into an uncomfortable stupour. I'd rather not spoil any of the stories - especially as I feel words could not explain how haunting they are - so you will just have to read for yourself. But as Robert notes, the images stay with you long after you have finished reading, and this little collection caused me many a sleepless night.
I initially encountered Chris Priestley at the recommendation of a student, but now constantly find myself giving his books to my readers, both advanced and reluctant. He is an incredibly talented writer, drawing on hundreds of years of Gothic tropes to turn the seemingly ordinary into something terrifyingly disturbing.