Sinister tales, ghost stories, thrillers and vignettes that reach back as far as the Victorian era, all steeped in the essence of London’s urban community, its industrial heritage, the docks, Victoriana, the Blitz and the War. Nine original stories and seven classic reprints that explore the capital’s dark underbelly but also celebrate its character and charm.
E.F. Benson’s “The Tube” (1922), is a mystery that centres on conjectures regarding time and our perception of it, examining concepts that would provide fertile ground for many an SF writer decades later. From Henry Mayhew’s simple but oh-so-revealing interview with a young girl selling watercress, to George Gissing’s tale of a Camden bibliophile whose obsession puts his wife’s life at risk, from Arthur Morrison’s keenly observed “The Street” and “Behind the Shade” – the latter a cautionary tale of how pernicious the gossip of wagging tongues can be – to T.G. Jackson’s chilling story of a family split asunder by a well-intentioned will and the unexpected terms it sets out, and Hume Nisbet’s ghostly masterpiece “The Phantom Model”, all seven classic pieces demand attention.
Reggie Oliver’s “A Maze for the Minotaur” might almost have been lifted from the Victorian age itself, so effectively does the author evoke the period in a perfectly judged tale, while Rose Biggin features Dr Samuel Johnson in a story of deceit involving a supernatural hoax with a man’s life at stake, as told by a ghost. Juliet E. McKenna’s story is of a children’s governess dismissed for no good reason and without recourse, who is directed to an institute with surprisingly progressive attitudes, while Paul Di Filippo delivers a delicious slice of Sherlock Holmes, told from the perspective of Wiggins, leader of the Baker Street Irregulars, and Bryony Pearce tells of a man whose sustenance requires unique measures. Fortunately, on the streets of the capital the dead and the dying are never in short supply. David Rix takes us beneath those streets, to the malodorous world of the sewer rats and the mudlarks, while Terry Grimwood spins a steampunk fairy tale featuring a young Prince Albert, newly wed to Queen Victoria. Susan Boulton’s “Blood and Bone” is set during World War II, focusing on efforts by the fire watch to protect St Paul’s Cathedral and a reporter’s determination to capture the perfect picture, while Paul StJohn Mackintosh brings us up to date with a contemporary saga of young love between two students in Southall, with more at stake than one of them could possibly imagine...
Sixteen stories, one city. Welcome to London as you’ve never seen her before.
1. Introduction by Ian Whates
2. Hunger – Bryony Pearce
3. A Street – Arthur Morrison
4. A Maze for the Minotaur – Reggie Oliver
5. The Phantom Model (A Wapping Romance) – Hume Nisbet
6. The Ghost of Cock Lane – Rose Biggin
7. The Hand That Rocks The Cradle – Juliet E. McKenna
8. Watercress Girl – Henry Mayhew
9. Queen Rat – David Rix
10. Christopherson – George Gissing
11. From The Casebook of Master Wiggins, Esq. – Paul Di Filippo
12. Albert And The Engine Of Albion – Terry Grimwood
13. In the Tube – E.F. Benson
14. A Romance of the Piccadilly Tube – T.G. Jackson
15. Blood and Bone – Susan Boulton
16. Behind the Shade – Arthur Morrison
17. Southall Tantra – Paul StJohn Mackintosh
About the Authors
"This anthology of fiendish tales has one connecting vein: a deep fondness for London and its webbings from Soho to Fulham, Southall to Northfields, Borough Market to Marylebone, South Kensington and all the way to Buckingham Palace and the depths of hell." - Aurealis Magazine
“Reggie Oliver’s ‘A Maze For The Minotaur’ impressed me greatly. The writing so perfectly captures the style of the Victorian period in which the story is set that it sits very comfortably between the two genuine Victorian tales that frame it… this is a very good collection of stories with the central theme of London. The period pieces are well-chosen, relatively uncommon and they mesh with the new material very well. Recommended.” – SFCrowsnest
The book is available as an A5 paperback and a numbered limited edition hardback, signed by the editor