“Hood’s style of writing varies across the stories, but he is always aware of the key ingredient of a good ghost story: atmosphere. There’s a palpable sense of mounting tension to the best of these stories and their chilling and sometimes ambiguous climaxes linger in the mind long after reading. As such Peripheral Visions is recommended to all ghost story fans; an embarrassment of riches likely to provide months of reading pleasure.”
It is an insightful review that touches on more than the surface level of the stories and the anthology as a whole — from his over-arching thematic description of the book and its themes:
Although billed as a collection of ghost stories, the contents of Peripheral Visions are more varied than that might imply; some tales here do follow loosely in the Jamesian tradition, but there are also plenty where the ‘ghost’ in the tale is more subtle or enigmatic. Whilst ‘haunted’ is the word to describe many of Hood’s protagonists, they aren’t just haunted by spooks: the stories in Peripheral Visions explore twisted realities, life after death, and the phantoms of troubled minds.
to his closer analysis of the stories of one selected section (Haunted Families); and his final generalisation regarding the issue of repetition (given the long sweep of the book):
[There is] impressive variety across the volume as a whole, and as such, despite its huge length, Peripheral Visions only rarely feels repetitive or predictable.
He offers some fine blurbs for the individual stories he discusses as well:
- “Grandma and the Girls” (which he compares to the work of Robert Aickman): “The story’s supernatural elements are left deliberately ambiguous and unexplained but the tale still delivers a powerful and disturbing climax.”
- “The Shark God Covenant”: “a tale that combines old folklore with a Freudian undercurrent that becomes more overt as it progresses, and is a world away from the musty hauntings of tradition.”
- “Birthmark”: “… the old world of human emotions and vengeance cannot be left behind so easily, and the ghost in ‘Birthmark’ is a technological recreation [of] humanity’s past, warts and all.”
Read the full review here.