What Haunts the Heart Edited by Matthew Pegg. Book review

What Haunts the Heart Edited by Matthew Pegg, Mantle Lane Press, paperback £7.99

Reviewed by Ian Hunter

Subtitled “Obsession, Regrets and Fractured Souls”, this is a collection which achieves what it says on the tin by collecting fifteen tackling a variety of subjects, often from a very strange angle, telling stories about people who are haunted for a variety of reasons and in a variety of ways.

Of the fifteen writers gathered here, those associated with the BFS will be familiar with the work of the late, great Graham Joyce, although perhaps, more familiar with his award-winning works in novel form, rather than his shorter fiction and he opens this anthology with a story that some may have read already about a lawyer going nowhere who decides to take the plunge and try for a job elsewhere but en route encounters two very strange boys in the story “Tiger Moth” which brilliantly and eerily evokes the local landscape.

As someone who reads a lot of horror fiction I was more familiar with the work of Tom Johnstone whose tales have graced the pages of “Supernatural Tales” and “The Black Book of Horror” and the like. Likewise, I was also familiar with the work of Richard Farren Barber, but have to confess that most of the other writers were new to me, which was no bad thing, but probably to do with the fact that the publisher, Mantle Lane Press is associated with Mantle Arts based in Leicestershire, and bios of each writer appear at the end of this book should you want to seek out more of their work, and there are also links to each writer’s website.

All in all we have a variety of subjects from waxwork makers to puppeteers and everything in between, including tales about teeth and train rides, in tales with twists in the tale and tales that make you think at the end – what really happened there? Is the tale teller really alive, or are they dead? Or are they a trapped ghost, perhaps even haunting themselves? We have time travel with a twist in a story reminiscent of Ray Bradbury, even a story that starts with a very long list, and in another we have echoes of that classic short story “The Yellow Wallpaper”.  If you want something different, and haunting then this anthology is worth seeking out.