On my reading table at the moment is Chris Priestley’s highly entertaining and spooky read Uncle Montague’s Tales of Terror. I’ve been meaning to get round to reading this one for a while, too long really as there are now more in the series to catch up with. The book can be read as a standalone however, and is told in the form of a series of creepy stories linked by their narrator, Uncle Montague, as he entertains his nephew, Edgar, while outside the window a swirling fog descends.
The book is very beautifully illustrated by David Roberts, though for me the illustrations suggest a ‘safer’ more child-orientated story than what’s actually on offer. There is more than a hint of Poe here (hence the protagonist’s moniker) and I was very much reminded of Roald Dahl’s Tales of the Unexpected. I should point out here that I am highly susceptible to horror, and that the book is aimed at a 9-12 year age group, so don’t expect anything to rival Stephen King. That noted I should also warn the squeamish that there are a number of grisly murders in the stories, and indeed some cruelty to small animals, and if you aren’t running for the hills by now I congratulate you on your fortitude.
If you do read Uncle Montague’s Tales of Terror you will find that Priestley is very much in control of his narrative, which is quite traditional in tone, and that he has a real gift for creating a chilling atmosphere in a variety of settings (from rural England to suburban London and even Turkey). The characters are deftly drawn, though not always sympathetic (you couldn’t really suffer their demise if it were otherwise) but I will say that the ending probably isn’t as good as the one your piqued imagination will have conjured, but don’t let that deter you from reading this page-turning, read-it-with-the-lights-on, chiller.