Wednesday, August 31, 2022

COULEUR DE ROSE by John Keir Cross

 And, so, somehow, after my writing about him HERE about an hour or so ago, the policeman in Richard Middleton’s rose-tinted book eventually improves his chances…


An arresting tale involving two brothers, and of brotherly hatred, their mother-love, a pair of rose-tinted glasses, a flute, a triumphant vindictive nursery rhyme sung loudly  and the book that one of the brothers had published.


Glasses have elbows, I since discovered, supposedly even rose-tinted glasses!


My other reviews of disconnected horror stories:

Coloured Quilts & Grey Velvet



“The author had nothing to say, and he has said it.”

About a novel being written and published, an intentional fallacy of a fiction, where the author eschews his skill for colons by replacing them with semi-colons at the last minute… thus undermining his ideals. He even undermines his inspiration and creates tantamount to the nothing that the publisher unintentionally prints in inordinate numbers, and the reviews are mainly scathing but he becomes famous by default of this story’s gestalt while sharing the same  part of the overall body with the different stories below.

“….a voice at his elbow said, “I shouldn’t buy that if I were you, sir. It’s no good!” He looked up and saw a wild young man, with bright eyes and an untidy black beard. “But it’s mine; I wrote it,” cried the author.”

“It seemed to him that in spite of his effort to bear in mind that the whole should be greater than any part, his chapters broke up into sentences and his sentences into forlorn and ungregarious words.”

“The streets were more than a mere assemblage of houses, London herself was more than a tangled skein of streets, and overhead heaven was more than a meeting-place of individual stars. What was this secret that made words into a book, houses into cities, and restless and measurable stars into an unchanging and immeasurable universe?”



The small boy tells his younger sister that their father had murdered their mother…

“She could see her father’s elbow projecting on one side, but nothing more. For an instant she hoped that he wasn’t there — hoped that he had gone — but then, terrified, she knew that this was a piece of extreme wickedness.  So she lay on the rough carpet, sobbing hopelessly, and seeing real and vicious devils of her brother’s imagining in all the corners of the room. Presently, in her misery, she remembered a packet of acid-drops that lay in her pocket, and drew them forth in a sticky mass, which parted from its paper with regret. So she choked and sucked her sweets at the same time, and found them salt and tasteless.”

So she tried to wake her father , to prevent Hell being whereto her parents vanished, after her brother had gone for a policeman……….




The connections in the stars… and a policeman called Bennett ponders: . 

“As he went systematically from house to house the consideration of these things marred the normal progress of his dreams. Conscious as he was of the stars and the great widths of heaven that made the world so small, he nevertheless felt that his love for his family and the wider love that determined his honour were somehow intimately connected with this greatness of the universe rather than with the world of little streets and little motives, and so were not lightly to be put aside. Yet, how can one measure one love against another when all are true?”

He yearns to care for his own children and for his wife with the coloured quilts, but torn between that emotion and being ruthlessly efficient in his job as a policeman so as to help him put food on their table and give them whatever else they need, but he is too philosophical to be a proper policeman; some may say he is too soft-hearted, too understanding of the criminals’ plight. Until he is told that he had not arrested enough people, and everyone is complaining in general about the police for  not doing their job, and so he needs to be made an example of…

“And at his very elbow the superintendent was speaking in that suave voice that reminded Bennett of grey velvet.”

Monday, August 29, 2022

The Rose Garden by M.R. James


“…the hold ones was the worst:”

This disarming M.R. James work seems in mutual synergy with R.H. Malden’s ‘The Sundial’ (reviewed  HERE) — the latter’s ‘If you’ll pull, I’ll push’ versus the former’s “Pull, pull. I’ll push, you pull.” A married couple in my county of Essex (aptly near the town of Maldon!) — Mr Anstruther (“Mr. Anstruther’s face, which had shown symptoms of lengthening, shortened itself again”) and Mrs Anstruther, and she, a bit officious as some Essex ladies still are, demands that a certain section of land within the community estate for which they have power over should be cleared of objects such as a firmly fixed post, to allow for a rose garden. He goes off to golf, and she to her drawing en plein air, while ordering their old local gardener do all the work, also much against his sense of disquiet at what was requested! (I say old as he acted ‘hold’.)


To cut a relatively short story a bit shorter, there is much accruing of the dreams dreamt by various people (“I should really like to know how I came to put my dream together—as I suppose one does put one’s dreams together from a lot of little things…”), including the stories told by  a lady visitor to Mrs A, stories about when she and her brother were children with dreams in the head when living here — all this being triangulated toward  a gestalt of some historical trial and the subsequent burial under that post of something that did not want to be buried. And other additions  such as Roothings, the initials A.C., and owls being not what they seem. 

“…and hearing a sound of a lot of people. I really don’t think I could bear now to go into a crowd of people and hear the noise they make talking.”


My other reviews of M.R. James:

(Above image by Tony Lovell for ‘Busy Blood’j

Thursday, August 25, 2022

The Honey In The Wall by Oliver Onions

 EA4CB620-0485-4BE2-BDA6-867EF44E09AAReviewed here:

In more ways than one, ‘The Rope in the Rafters’ is the counterpart puzzle to that in the work below, perhaps solving both! 

Self and its ghost. 

Self solving self.

And those ‘multitudes’ again along with the cad and bounder that lied to them …

Spoilers below!

THE HONEY IN THE WALL by Oliver Onions

“And then, lo, of a sudden there comes to us an hour. The unsharable thing has found us out in the midst of the multitude. One voice only reaches us in our isolation, the voice of our forgotten, nay, of our unlearned selves.”

This is the story of a woman called Gervaise Harow. She needs, for her mother’s sake,  to manage “the Abbey itself, with its crushing burden of maintenance and mortgages and debt.” Balancing, for example,  the selling of paintings like Raeburns versus “Unknowns”, including a striking painting of Lady Jane, that comes to symbolise herself towards the end. Yet, we have at the  start something that I must quote in full as it has haunted me for many years, something I once called ‘wild honey’:

“They found it in the fragment of Norman wall just across the grass-court – twenty pounds weight and more of it, the labour of the bees of none of them knew how many years. It was packed away in a cavity as long as a man’s arm, and in order to get at it they had to fetch a ladder, to hack down the masses of ivy, and to clear away the grass and valerian and wallflower from the wall-top. Clot after clot it was taken out, unsightly lumps, black as pitch, caked and crusted with earth and scurf and bits of mortar. But the housekeeper cut and scalded the outer grime away, and there was enough of the stored sweetness of long-vanished flowers to fill the row of waiting jars.”

Overall, this is a beautifully written, Abbey-atmospheric, ghost-implied novelette, that would be a classic of its kind and absorbed by a huge readership over generations  if it were not for some necessary smashing of its own puzzle of a plot into scattered soulful effusions of self-worthlessness in Gervaise, in parallel with Gervaise’s mother’s ongoing  solving of a jigsaw puzzle of Iceland, a puzzle smashed in reality, in media res, by Gervaise because of frustration at her lot in life and at her not being able to disseminate her goodness (the honey within her)  amongst we multitudes, I guess, we who had been lied to through history,  a puzzle that also symbolised a cad and bounder called Freddy whom she recurrently took power over by smashing his persona puzzle, too, but only with his solving it again and taking power over her  in a cycle of love-hate. And this is played out in a social gathering of young people, and during the evening they dressed up and played hide and seek. Freddy’s facial scar aligned with each scar left on the walls by the removed paintings that needed to be sold.

“And what treasure, disordered it might be, the bitter with the sweet, the dross with the gold, the honey caked with mortar and scurf and chaff; did not her tumultuous heart contain?”

Some of the scenes of subtle horror actually bite home amid the hide and seek and amid the dark, candlelit windings of this abbey — from “The apartment in which Gervaise stood was a mere plastered cell in the honeycomb of the house, never used;” to a moon that is the most powerful moon ‘volcano-scape’ before Bowen’s Mysterious Kôr,  a moon rising as a ‘bulging orange balloon’ and later becoming quite different, and her self meets her self after facing the ghost that Freddy presented kissing a rival-in-romance called Pamela, or was it them at all? 

In case you never read this work just allow me to provide you  below with some quotations from it, honey from its walls… sometimes bitter honey, or for you to use as landmarks to allow its smashed puzzle to be put together from fractured walls and fragments…

“The apartment in which Gervaise stood was a mere plastered cell in the honeycomb of the house, never used;”

“What eternity in an instant was this he had hinted at? What this urgency of passion, this ghost-woman’s arm long enough to have gone nine times round him? […] He was not dismembered. He was whole once more, with the old, easy, scoffing, familiar power over her. All was to begin anew. Once more she was to know those perturbed moments of meeting, the pain at her pent heart, the flushings, the exhausting resolve, his re-demolishing.”

“His arms within the cloak had made a swift gathering movement, and the folds of the poppy closed completely over the alien petal. […] All at once terror took Gervaise. No ghost could have been more affrighting than that steady, silent, smiling oncoming. […] She saw Pamela’s weak upturned little mask. He had seemed to hold it as some conjurer or ventriloquist might have held a property-mask, he the wizard, she the puppet, to play her part in the little illusion…” 

“The lace-cuffed fist descended in the middle of the puzzle. The fretwork fountain leaped into the air and fell again in a hundred fragments. She plunged her hands among the wooden jigs, scattered them, crushed them together, drove them this way and that. […] It had been the gentlest of subtractions, as if from some white beam a hue had been withdrawn, or as if some super-imposition, imperfectly coinciding, made the double image. Gervaise yearned divinely over that untenanted body in the window-seat that also was Gervaise. She put out her arms to that her lifeless sister, showering down on her an unimaginable love.”

“Quiet breasts? . . . She laughed aloud.”


Other Onions stories as well as many disconnected horror story reviews linked from here:

Wednesday, August 24, 2022

The Closed Window by A.C. Benson



The legend was  that the window at the top of the tower was most strictly kept closed because of young Sir Mark de Nort’s late grandfather had made it so. And it seems this is because of some curse connected with the latter’s behaviour or wishes. Sir Mark lives with a cousin, his heir, Roland, two years older than him, and  their hobbies and other manners of life are amenable together, and it is touching when one of them holds the other’s hand at a time of distress. Until manly pride makes Mark open that window, opens that casement to what evil is now uncloseted as a foreign rocky terrain outside with an imputed temptation of riches, but only if one can but reach for them out there (an effective damnable vista that will likely haunt me). Effectively, Mark later seems tantamount to abandon the emerging wreck of his amenable cousin companion  who has been infiltrated with false optimism by what lay beyond the window, with Mark indeed seemingly further abandoning him by acquiring a wife after Roland’s foolhardy escapade out there via a rope, as well as after Mark’s beloved dog had been slaughtered  as part of the same dire process. Roland soon becomes mentally and physically hollowed out after climbing down there and today he is just a sad appendage in the house, although dutifully cared for by Mark. This affected me a lot. This and the ‘Tower of Fear’.


My other reviews of unconnected horror stories:

A book by Arthur C. Benson below that I may review later in the comment stream below…

Between Sunset and Moonrise by R.H. Malden


“About thirty yards from her house there was an elbow in the drove.”

It is important to closely read and remember the paragraph here about ‘droves’ in the wilds of Norfolk, the nature of these dubious routes with high sides near unto the Fens, where the truly evil-seeming unforgettable vision in words of a depleting number of beasts, depleting but aggrandising unto one, and appearing to me as a foul sort of potential Annunciation heading, in hindsight,  towards  the woman in her lonely cottage at the end of a drove, a vision as strikingly triggered by “Suddenly I heard a loud snort, as of  a beast, apparently at my elbow.” — as stated by a vicar to us in his last document, before his expounding on this vision. There is much Zenoistic ‘wading’ through droves in this work, too. The ‘story’ as left by the vicar for reading after his death, concerned his visit on New Year’s Eve to a woman he ever feared, for some unknown reason, visiting. A visit today where he finds her fearfully reading the Book of Tobit about Sarah loved by the demon Asmodeus, the latter, I believe, having slaughtered all seven of her husbands before the marriages were consummated. And I think it was timely, for intense contrast and comparison, that I somehow read this Malden work by chance an hour or so after reading and reviewing  (HERE) ‘Madonna of the Magnificat’ by Mary Butts!


Other disconnected horror stories reviewed here:

There will hopefully be further reviews of R.H. Malden in the comment stream below…

2 thoughts on “BETWEEN SUNSET AND MOONRISE by R.H. Malden

  1. THE SUNDIAL by R.H. Malden

    “The form of the story suggests that he intended to publish it; probably in some magazine. As far as I know it has not been published before.”

A slow, wading emergence as spooky tale till I do read or re-read it today. Like the running after a deformed intruder in circles around the garden path, and its secretive orchard doors, during a time’s era, after working for the Viceroy in India, now moving into a large country house with a butler etc., something that I could afford as tenant because of an unexpected legacy, a place, a racially incontinent past, where I live and go hunting with dogs and shooting pheasants, and that effectively slow running in a circle after an evil-looking intruder, simply because he is deformed, and the intruder terrifyingly becomes as if he is now slowly running after me! A slow, wading, Zeno-like emergence of meaning: just like the stake-like shadow of time upon a circular dial, reaching towards a state of becoming no shadow at all, quashed by a subsuming night like death, and that tree root uprooted from the earth that is the stake itself that marked the spot where the intruder (that was me) was buried, but yearned to wake again and get revenge on me for deforming him with my own fallible death!
    A now printed story, though, that gives a dated masquerade of historical facts of crime and punishment at the end to tell quite a different story or to reconcile it within a civilised state of time’s imperial past, i.e. “the form of the story” I once read many years ago and just now re-read by a different brain to what mine once was. A sort of preferable version of King Solomon’s wisdom. And the demons that reside within us.
    With due disregard to those with incontinence who still have it within their bones to be intolerant of those who seem different. And who read things differently. Locking myself inside by having bolted it on the outside.

    “If you’ll pull, I’ll push.”