Cambridge illustrator-turned-author Chris Priestley has carved quite the name for himself in the last decade as a modern ‘Master of the Macabre’ with his burgeoning canon of ghoulish stories for young adults.
Uncle Montague’s tales of terror is the first in a trilogy of hauntingly riveting reads in the gothic vein of M.R. James and Edgar Allen Poe. Priestley successfully integrates a series of spooky short stories into the body of a framing narrative involving eager young Edgar and his yarn-spinning Uncle. Therefore each ‘chapter’ can be read independently (best by candlelight just before bedtime) or in succession, building to a spine-chilling conclusion.
Twisted trees, haunted doll houses, possessed church bench-ends, deformed creatures following travellers up a lonely path – I was captivated by the impressive scope of the imaginative horrors, and curious as to just how far Priestley was prepared to shock and scare his audience.
Although designed for the 8-12 demographic, I still found myself entranced and chilled by this ghostly anthology filled with monsters and menace – and I’m 31! Paired with some stylishly surreal line drawings by David Roberts, Uncle Montague’s tales of terror is a superb and handsome book which can be dipped into and returned to for years after your first foray.