Friday 12 January 2018

Tales from the Brackenwood Ghost Club - Andrew M. Seddon

Tales from the Brackenwood Ghost Club
Andrew M. Seddon
Far Wanderings
ISBN 9781975720575


Prior to reading this book, I have read three titles by Seddon, two of them twice through. And I have greatly enjoyed them. Each of those three garnered a 5 out of 5 stars rating. I was hesitant when approaching this book. The hesitation was with all the Catholic books I have been reading over the last few years, both fiction and non-fiction I have been leery of the strange and supernatural. But my concerns were unfounded. This collection of 11 tales was in many ways inspiring and intriguing.

The Brakenwood Ghost Club is a group that met at Max's house. The book is the work of Max's niece. The members were as varied as the tales they discussed. The stories spanned from the American West to the Himalayas. From lights for a mystery church to a dog acting as protector.  The eleven stories contained in this collection are:

1 The Church in the Sand
2 The Mission
3 Clouds of War
4 That'll Be the Missus
5 Once to Die
6 Bond
7 The Black Priest of Brackenwood
8 Desperation Gulch
9 Bright Stars Singing
10 The Third Man
11 Saint Aerdeyrn's Cross

Some of the stories are based upon real legends, or myths. Some are based upon real people but the stories are the creations of Seddon himself.  At the end of the stories is a section explaining the history of each of the pieces. And then there is an essay by Seddon entitled 'On Catholic Ghost Stories'  it begins with these words:

"IT MIGHT SEEM, at first glance, that ghost stories - like the closely related genres of horror, weird, and supernatural fiction - are unlikely candidates for inclusion in the pantheon of Catholic literature. The objection is sometimes raised that the Bible contains strong prohibitions against sorcery, divination, and necromancy. The fate of King Saul after consulting the Witch of Endor (1 Samuel) provides a chilling example of the dangers of meddling in forbidden realms. And, certainly, an unhealthy attraction to the occult and its practices is to be avoided."
This essay goes on to expand upon why the two are not incompatible. He states:
"And it should always be kept in mind that stories are just that: stories - not sermons, discourses, or theological treatises. 
Ghost stories, in fact, may serve several functions: to entertain, to edify, to encourage, to educate, to evangelize, and to enhance."
And then he goes on to expand upon each of those 6 purposes. Part of me wishes that the essay had been at the beginning of the book instead of at the end. It would have caused me to read the stories with a very different eye. However that being said, I did greatly enjoy the collection. And I look forward to checking out another collection What Darkness Remains that has been released since this one came out. And Seddon has contributed to a number of collections over the last year that I might need to track down even if just to read his contribution.

I had concerns when I approached this book, but knowing the author from his other works I should have known better. This is a read and I can highly recommend it.

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2018 Catholic Reading Plan!

Books by Andrew M. Seddon:
Walking with the Celtic Saints (with Neil & Gerlinde Kennedy-Jones)
Dr. Andrew's Curious and Quirky Compendium

Historical Fiction:
Imperial Legions

Saints Alive Series:

Saints Alive Second Editions:

Stories Of The Supernatural:
What Darkness Remains
In Death Survive
Science Fiction:
Red Planet Rising
Iron Scepter
The DeathCats of Asa’ican and Other Tales of a Space-Vet
Wreaths of Empire

German Shepherd Wanderings Series:
Bonds of Affection
Ranger's First Call

Contributed to:
Sky Songs
Sky Songs II
Fungi #20
Unintended Consequences
Silent Screams: An Anthology of Socially Conscious Dark Fiction
Eldritch Embraces: Putting the Love Back in Lovecraft
Tails from the Front Lines
Legends of Sleepy Hallow
Wolf Wanderings

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