Earlier this year, I read The Witch of Lichley Lane, a short story collection by L.C. Cunningham. Gothic horror, the blurb promised, so my expectations were high.
Dark as the damndest pits of damnation. Grotesque, depraved, sordid; awful as the awfulest imaginings of imagination. The small, North England town of Lichley is holding some horrific secrets. This series of shorts comes with my sincerest of warnings NOT to be read by anyone of a sensitive disposition. You’ve been warned!
Most of the famous horror monsters of the Gothic era appear here; all given rather different takes to their usual tales. Read the troubled thoughts of a 200-year-old vampire; discover the demon haunting the dreams of a man whose wife is dying; encounter a midnight stranger and hear his tale of horror in a story within a story within a story. All this and far, far more awaits brave readers within…
To be honest, my hopes of a grim, dark read were crushed right on the first page where the narrator invites the reader in, in a semi-humourous fashion. Not quite what I expected, but I decided to keep an open mind and give the book a fair chance, and boy, was I glad I did.
Now that I understood this was more satire than horror, and reading the stories in the right mindset, I soon found myself immersed in the not-so-pretty lives of the inhabitants of dank, murky Lichley Town. The grin on my face broadened as I read about their well-deserved misfortunes, and I might even have chuckled a couple of times.
I admit it. I hate stories about vampires and werewolves and the likes, because… well, maybe because of a certain popular series about glittery vampires. Or maybe because these stories are usually just too tired and clichéd. Whatever the reason, you’ll be hard pressed to find me voluntarily reading said stories.
Yet, here I was. Reading stories featuring vampires and werewolves and other odious supernatural beings. What was more, I was enjoying the ride. Because Cunningham’s supernaturals are not your usual suspects. In The Witch of Lichley Lane we meet clumsy, unlucky sods who get what they deserve. No happy endings for them.
This thoroughly delight-less collection of short stories gets a well-deserved four-star rating from me. If you’re up for reading some gothic satire, you’ll almost certainly enjoy this book.
You can buy the book on Amazon.com
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