Monday 4 September 2023

Webs and Shadows Strange Stories of Barsetshire - Paul Leone

Webs and Shadows: 
Strange Stories of Barsetshire
ISBN 9798851784705

This was my second foray into the works of Paul Leone. The first The Third Crown and Other Weird Tales, was recommended by a friend and author, I thought it was great and wanted to give this new collection a try. This is an interesting collection. 
The description of the volume is:

“In a quiet corner of England lies the county of Barsetshire, nestled between Somerset and Wiltshire. This rural landscape is of little note to the average Briton today, who sees little more than woodlands and fields, and not the strangeness that lurks beneath. In the shadows of the Lobwold and the back alleys of Barchester, mystery abounds if you know where... and how... to look.

Webs and Shadows pulls back the curtain on the hidden history of Barsetshire, from the aftermath of the Ice Age to the end of the second Elizabethan Age, and contains nine weird tales set in 'the edge of nowhere.' Pierce the webs and cast light into the shadows as you tread the secret paths of Barsetshire between the First and Final Champions of the British Isles.”

The stories in this collection are:

The House of the Owl
Sigríð Sigdansdohtor and the Wolf of the Lobbeweald
A Ride in Barsetshire
The Mystery of the Horrifying Homecoming
The Governess of Greenmere
Lost in Barsetshire
The Greenmere House Call
Two Queens

Paul states in the introduction that:

“Barchester and Barsetshire resonated with me for some reason, and a few years later, I began writing stories set in said city and county. Eventually, it became the heart of my Immortal Champions setting, which as of this writing stretches across one novella (the entirety of which is included herein) and three short story collections. This collection brings together all my stories set in Barsetshire, including three newly written for it.”

The story Lost in Barsetshire appeared in the other collection of stories I have read by Paul, and he states:

““Lost in Barsetshire” was originally published by the alternate history specialists of Sea Lion Press in the horror anthology Travellers in an Antique Land and republished here with their kind permission.”

So having been published at least three times previously it is an interesting piece. The stand out piece in the collection is The Governess of Greenmere, the novella mentioned above. It has a bit of a feel like God Game by Andrew M. Greeley. There was a little more occult in this story than I like. Having family history and personal experienced with the cards of fate. A few of the pieces have a Charles Williams feel. 

I really enjoyed a few pieces and a couple just did not connect with me. I would have no issues picking up and giving other works by Leone, in fact I have pick up the first in his Vampire series but have not got to it yet. If you enjoy good short stories and novella’s I can recommend this as a starting place to explore the worlds created by Paul Leone, and if you have read his other works as a place to continue. 

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2023 Catholic Reading Plan!

Books by Paul Leone:
Emma Shepard, Space Sentinel!
In and Out of the Reich
Little Greys
Murder in Jerusalem
The Governess of Greenmere
The Mystery of the Dæmoniac
The Red Thirst
Kung Fu Antipopes and Other Strange Stories
The Hungry Dead of Yü-ching and Other Stories

Vatican Vampire Hunters Series:
Mysterious Albion
The Book of Thoth

Girl Out of Time Series:

Mysteries of Zillah Harvey Series:
The Mysteries of Zillah Harvey
The Mystery of the Carpathian Client
The Mystery of the Dying Woman

Contributed to:
Travellers in an Antique Land

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