Reviewed by Matthew Johns
Tartarus’ Strange Tales compendiums are always good value. As with all books from Tartarus, they are lovingly bound, with a proper ribbon bookmark, gloriously colourful foil illustrations on the cover and a collection of short stories that all have one thing in common – they are tales of the strange!
The opener – “By Leaf and Thorn” by Christopher Harman sees a provincial newspaper choosing to cut a nature column called By Leaf and Thorn that had appeared weekly for 45 years, as the new, progressive editor decides that it doesn’t fit her view of the sort of content that should appear within her newspaper. The author, a mysterious Mr Puckelbry is determined that nature should be given a voice within the paper and sends an intermediary to try to persuade the newspaper. As the disagreement proceeds, the weather within the local area seems to worsen, and strange things start to occur as the mysterious author makes his displeasure felt.
In “The Secret Passage”, by regular Tartarus contributor Rhys Hughes, a man hires a team of builders to build him a house according to his own design, but to add a network of secret passages that he doesn’t know about so that he can try to find them once the house is completed. Many more tales of the strange and fantastical abound within this collection, making it a delight to hold and read.