The stories here are both traditional ghost stories where ephemeral spectres haunt buildings and landscapes, desirous of both peace and revenge, and also subtler stories of loss and grief. This is a gentle, elegant collection; there’s no intention to shock or scare, more to create a lingering sense of unease. Overall, there is a sense of the unsettled past finally finding peace. As with Mosse’s other books (Labyrinth, Sepulchre and Citadel) the landscape, myth and legend play a strong part both in the story and in the creation of atmosphere. Here we are treated to both modern and historical stories set in Sussex, Hampshire, Brittany and the Languedoc. Mosse’s prose is as undulating and comforting as the landscape she describes. Although some of the stories are more successful than others (I particularly enjoyed the circular nature of the collection as it starts and ends with the tragedy of the poor Mistletoe Bride in two different incarnations), all are worthy of inclusion. Mosse has included an author’s note at the end of each story examining the origins of her inspiration to write them and these notes are as enjoyable as the stories themselves.
For this reviewer the inclusion of Mosse’s play Syrinx at the end makes the collection worth the money: it was this haunting story of three friends riven by loss and grief that brought your reviewer to tears.
A final word must go to the illustrator, Rohan Daniel Eason, whose wonderful illustrations add to the magic, mystery and otherworldliness of the collection.
Any Cop?: A gentle, atmospheric collection of stories perfect for the winter evenings ahead.