Review: Aylmer Vance: Ghost-Seer by Alice & Claude Askew

Title - Aylmer Vance: Ghost-Seer
Author - Alice & Claude Askew
Year - 1915
Stand Alone or Series - Anthology
Pages - 127
Reading Time - December 2012

The Aylmer Vance stories date from the Edwardian period, and there are echoes in them of the Sherlock Holmes adventures which had proved so popular in the preceding decade. The friendship between Aylmer Vance and Dexter is not unlike that between Sherlock Holmes and Watson, and the two investigators approach the world of the supernatural in the same fearless and enquiring spirit in which Conan Doyle's heroes approach the world of crime. The parallel is not exact: Dexter, with his clairvoyant powers, is a more useful (and intelligent) ally than Watson, and Vance for the most part does not 'solve' mysteries the way Holmes does. What we get instead is a loosely-connected series of stories in which surprise is the major element, a world where not all ghosts are bad, where it is not always clear whether they are ghosts, and where being dead may for some be better than being alive.

This is a compiliation of short stories published on the verge on the year of the First World War. We met Dexter and Aylmer Vance as they are on a Inn on vacations. Dexter becomes interested on Aylmer stories and each night he tells him one. Seanse, Ancient Gods, Ghosts, Vampires, Possession, Haunted Castles and so on. All the requisites for a good anthology of Gothic stories.

1) The Invader is a story of a session of spiritism séance that goes wrong. An husband distress to find out who did belong some ancient bracers ask his wife to be a vessel for an ancient princess. After some seansés something goes wrong and the wife is possessed by a spirit who doesn't want to leave. He then tries everything at his dispossal but to no avail. The ending is quite dramatic leaving the husband killing his own wife and then commiting suicide. Here Aylmer has a small part on this story. Most of it he is telling what happenned to their friends and not participating.

2) The Stranger:  tale about love between a girl and an old being of the wilds. In the end we learn that that being may be a ancient god. Again these tale as minor intervation of Aylmer and the plot itself. This was one of the most interesting tale on this book.

3) Lady Green-Sleeves: This story is about the meeting between Aylmer and a ghost in a ball. Only in the end he discovers as she dissappears. Quite good.

4) The Fire Unquenchable: a poet return from the grave to finish his poetry by sheer possession of his wife. In this tale we learn about Dexter clairovyan powers.

5) The Vampire: This is one of the best tales of this lot. A curse that makes someone of that bloodline to "consume" other. It's quite nice tale and it's the first Aylmer solution is to destroy the castle so the curse can be cured.

6) The Boy of Blackstock: Another tale that Aylmer almost doesn't have any part except being there.Villanious human and ghosts competing "who's the worst". It was in my opinion one of the worst of the lot.

7) The Indissoluble Bond: Another weak story in my opinion and not that frightful tale. But interesting. Love and Hate. 

8) The Fear:  This tale supposedly is quite frightfull but it isn't. Suposedly there is a castle where at some time of night a terrifying aura surrounds it and we get a fear that almost kill a person. Again... "Destroy the place".

To whom I would advice this book? To anyone who wants to try reading Edwardian/ghotic tales. Very interesting. If you want a frightful story of horror then... no.


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