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Not Exactly Ghosts

A novel by

Andrew Caldecott (1884-1951) is one of the most distinguished people of the twentieth century to write in the genre of supernatural fiction. His long and honoured career in the British Colonial Service included terms as governor of both Hong Kong and Ceylon, and he was knighted for his services in 1937. Caldecott's career as a writer of fiction began in 1947, when a collection of weird tales, entitled "Not Exactly Ghosts" was published, and it ended in 1948, when a second collection, "Fires Burn Blue", appeared. As Stefan Dziemianowicz notes in his introduction, the twenty-five stories in the two volumes seem to have been written in a short period of time, and they indicate a familiarity with, and a nod to, such practitioners of the genre as L.P. Hartley, John Metcalfe, and M.R. James. Indeed, Caldecotte is often loosely categorized as a 'Jamesian' writer, largely due to the fame of one of his best known stories, 'Christmas Re-union', which is based on an idea in James's 'Stories I Have Tried to Write'. The Jamesian label is something of a misnomer, however. Caldecott shared James' fondness for reticence and restraint, but preferred to show the malign and malevolent forces in his tales through their effect on the characters unfortunate enough to encounter them. Not all of these encounters result in the horrific: many are merely annoying, while others demonstrate the author's fondness for dark humour. Unlike many of his contemporaries Caldecotte ventured outside the cosy world of England and western Europe for story settings. A quarter of his tales are set in the fictional, yet fully realized, country of Kongea: a country with a veneer of western civilisation, under which swirl dark currents of legend, superstition, and mystery, in which it is possible for the unwary interloper to fall prey to madness and death.

Genre: Horror

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