Paperback review: Collected Ghost Storie, By M R JAmes


James’s ghost stories are almost like Hammer horror films in their status and predictability: we know too much now of the genre to be surprised by what happens in any of them, but that doesn’t lessen the pleasure of reading them.

James used the same features again and again – the creepy country house, the unexplained apparition, the “just desserts” meted out to those who had behaved badly. Often, someone is being haunted by a dark shadow, and some have pointed to James’s likely repressed homosexuality as feeding that image. Wherever it came from, there was darkness in James’s soul, but it was a delicious kind of darkness which one suspects he rather embraced in life as well as in his tales.