On The Hill Of Roses by Stefan Grabinski. Book review

ON THE HILL OF ROSES by Stefan Grabinski, Hieroglyphic Press, Hardcover, £26, http://hieroglyphicpress.co.uk

Reviewed by Mario Guslandi

Called “the Polish Poe” Stefan Grabinski (1887-1936) was a prolific  writer of dark fantastic fiction, author of six collections of short stories and four novels. Scarcely acknowledged outsidePoland, Grabinski’s  work saw its first printed  appearance in the English  language in 1993, thanks to the translation by Miroslaw Lipinski, when Dedalus Press published the  excellent collection “The Dark Domain”.

Now Hieroglyphic Press has supplied the English  version of  another of Grabinski’s collections “On the Hill of Roses” first published in 1919, again translated by the  invaluable Lipinski.

The volume itself is a delightful object for book lovers (a beautifully produced hardcover edition with a wonderful cover design by Eleni Tsami) and, as for its content, a treasury of   evocative, elegantly written, unsettling stories.

Of the seven tales included, four have particularly impressed me.

The title story “On the Hill of the Roses” is a very  atmospheric piece with a fascinating dream-like quality and a slightly horrific ending, while “At the Villa by the Sea” is an intoxicating, unique  medley of crime, supernatural events and romance, revolving around the untimely death of a young, talented poet.

In the sinister but magical and intriguing  “Shadow” strange shadows on a window curtain reproduce for ever the scene of a tragic murder remained concealed for a long time.

Dark shadows emanating from the ruins of an old monastery also appear in “Projections”, an extraordinary gothic piece which, in the form of a disquieting diary, reveals a past story of blasphemies and sins  taking place within the sacred walls.

I cannot recommend strongly enough this offbeat, excellent book which provides the reader with the rare opportunity to make the acquaintance of an exceptionally interesting author still largely unknown in the Anglophone world.