Tales of the Lost
Tales of the Lost
is Richard Howard's second book of short stories that bring us face to face with some very strange encounters and some unexpected twists along the way. Each story inhabits its own individual world and is told in a very direct style. As the author says in his introduction, the themes for these later stories are darker in mood than his earlier works. The longest of them, Flora's Return
, was inspired by what the author regards as "the finest ghost story ever written", The Turn of the Screw
by Henry James.
These new stories range from realms of complete fantasy to modern day settings. Some are ghost stories, others are just scary, and most have a twist in the tail. In each one there is a character who, in one way or another, is lost, hence Tales of the Lost.
Story-telling has a long tradition and is as old as humankind, fulfilling many different functions. Some are very dark ~ think of the popularity of 'murder mysteries' or the many dystopian tales from Orwell's 1984 to The Hunger Games. Stories can serve to express anger, grief, hope, wish fulfilment or any emotion you care to name. So long as the internal logic of a story is consistent, then even the most fantastic situations can be made believable. From fairy tales to science fiction, stories have been written that allow us to enjoy feeling scared in a safe environment. This collection will not disappoint.
Review of Tales of the Lost by freelance reviewer, Erica Robyns
When I go into a collection of stories, I'm always a bit hesitant. I usually rate each story individually, and those ratings are usually all over the place. And as you all know, I am very stingy with my five star ratings. But with this collection...
I was blown away by this collection of tales. I loved that each story was about being lost in one form or another, and yet each story was so unique! Each tale was so wonderfully written. The pacing and plot of each were so well done and the characters were perfectly developed for their tale. I really loved that a few of the stories came full circle, which I am a total sucker for. Many of the stories also had twists that totally threw me for a loop or made me gasp. More than once, when I finished a story that had a twist, I had to set the book down to really digest the story.
In many of the tales, the suspense kept me on the edge of my seat. I just love when authors drop in a sentence like this: He looked over the brief introduction he'd just written for a talk he was due to deliver in London two weeks later ~ a talk he would never give.
Here are my reviews and quick notes for each story:
I LOVED this story! It was a bit suspenseful and unnerving as I anxiously waited to see what happened. When the story came to its conclusion, I stopped and closed the book. I wanted to stand up and clap. I adore stories that are organized this way. The paranormal twist was also fun! 5/5
The House of Dreams
What an interesting idea! I loved the premise of this one and that the story took a turn that I totally wasn't expecting! 4/5
Stories set in harsh environments always make me so nervous! This one was so thrilling! Loved that there was a use of repetition that really put an awesome twist into the story! 5/5
This is definitely one of the best short stories of its genre (spoiler removed) I have read. I loved the plot and the pacing! It had just enough development to keep things interesting. And the ending!! 5/5
I love stories where wishes are granted. Especially when the result is rather spooky! 4/5
The Life and Purpose of Mr Henry Dodd
Trigger warning here: suicide. I almost skipped this one because of the topic, but I'm glad I didn't. The end put a very interesting twist on things. While I was reading, the story really got my blood boiling, but the end was worth it. 4/5
WOW! This one was so intense. A bit repetitive, but it made sense with the situation. I loved the ending! 5/5
Such a bittersweet tale! The beginning of the story wasn't for me, but the second half was great! 4/5
Trigger warning again here: suicide. So dark! 3/5
It's Only a Myth
I loved this one; it was equal parts intriguing and terrifying! I loved the references to myths throughout. And what a great set up for the ending! 5/5
Fight or Flight
This story was so suspenseful!! I loved the old fashioned horror vibe, and what awesome characters, both good and bad! And such a spooky plot! 5/5
Wow! This one totally hooked me. How terrifying and heart-breaking. 5/5
Oh! This one was equally terrifying and heart-breaking. 5/5
My final thoughts:
This collection was absolutely incredible. I loved the majority of the stories so very much. There was only one story that was so-so for me simply because of the topic.
The stories in this collection are stories that will certainly be sticking with me for a long time. I will definitely be re-reading soon!
If you enjoy short stories of a wonderful variety that will keep you on the edge of your seat, you need to pick up this book.
Amazon review: A Small Treasure Trove of Dark Fantasy
I found this collection to be every bit as good as the author’s 2007 first volume of supernatural short stories entitled Strange Tales In Fiction And Fact. I was again struck by how even several pages into a Howard story you can’t necessarily fathom to where he might have transported the reader by the end, or indeed just a few pages further on, such are the unexpected twists and turns. For example, I was twice absorbed in what I assumed was a straight-ahead detective or mystery tale, only to find myself suddenly jolted into something quite dark and otherworldly. The stories are varied in length, pace and their time period, whilst subject matter traverses both the paranormal and what I might call ‘dark fantasy’. Many seemingly incidental phenomena in the stories cleverly have their significance revealed later on, and one can appreciate these stories for both the finer details and their larger, more subtle message. In most collections of shorts one usually finds a few 'fillers' that were not memorable, but for me every one was a page-turner leading up to a final, inspired twist. The longest story here, Flora's Return is the author's own sequel to The Innocents, the 1961 gothic horror film directed by Jack Clayton (based on the novella The Turn of the Screw by Henry James). I think anyone who enjoyed that BAFTA-winning classic will not be disappointed with this sequel, and thus has good reason to purchase this book - with all other stories being an added bonus! All in all, thoroughly enjoyable and highly recommended.
Amazon review: This second collection of the author's little gems is every bit as good as the first
I challenge anyone to read the first few lines of one of Richard Howard's short stories and to then resist the strong urge to continue reading, normally right through to the end in one sitting. This second collection of the author's little gems is every bit as good as the first. His fluent, concise writing style draws you in, and like good film music, the writing soon becomes transparent, leaving you immersed in the plot, eager to discover more, just as if the action were happening to you, rather than you reading it.
Elaborately woven dreamscapes, vampires, ghosts, fears, horrors within and without - if you are a lover of classic British horror stories this will draw you right in, to a world where the role of Karma and the innate natural justice of the universe collide with the frisson of beautifully engineered horror and creeping terror.
Amazon review: A fabulous, thought-provoking read
I got so much pleasure from reading these stories. Each one was like an escape into another world for me and I eagerly followed the journeys of all protagonists with keen anticipation for the outcome. I love all the twists, the different characters and the variety of themes relating to the supernatural. Reading each story was like watching a film, as they're so visual. Many made my spine tingle, others made me smile at their hidden messages. I think the author did a magnificent job of creating different narrative moods and pacing the story-telling to suit the plots and I know I’ll return to these stories time and again. I highly recommend it.
Amazon review: Excellent story-telling and writing of a high quality
Richard Howard’s stories immerse you in a variety of settings and atmospheres: sometimes mysterious and fantastical; other times more every-day and contemporary. All will surprise, chill or warm you in one or more combinations. There is often a ‘wow’ moment in each story.
The writing creates such clarity of description, it is no effort to conjure each scene in your mind. As you are carried along, (often with tension mounting) it’s as if a melody is weaving its way, developing as it goes, creating a composition. The use of language is varied, rich, inventive and intelligent. There is a welcome combination of excellent story-telling and writing of a high quality that is missing in so many novels. It is easy to imagine more than one story being made into a film, especially Flora’s Return.
Despite this genre not being one to which I would usually be attracted, I felt disappointment when I reached the end of Tales of the Lost. It is not often I finish a book wanting more but I certainly did in this case.
Review in Connections magazine
Tales of The Lost is the perfect book to settle down to read on a cosy dark evening!
Here are some reviews from subscribers to Netgalley:
This being my first attempt at reading a short story collection, I have to say that it was a great experience! Every story is intriguing and packed with something unusual, with characters that you can live vicariously through and supernatural elements that you could never have dreamed of. There were so many myths, legends and ghost tales that were brought into this collection, and it was just great to read so many different stories about them all! I actually enjoyed the cliff-hanger feeling that each story left me with because it made me go through a rollercoaster of emotions, and culminated in a dramatic ending that made me literally go 'whoa'! Some of the longer stories could have used some more transition elements but other than that, I really enjoyed everything I read! Overall, this was a great experience for me, and I cannot wait to read more short stories!
This is a collection of short stories that surprised me. They range from fantasy to contemporary time periods. Each story is in its own world. I forgot everything else with each short story I read. Not all stories do this for me, especially short stories all written by the same author. The twists in each story kept me reading and enjoying them! There were unusual supernatural stories, myths, and ghost tales. There are stories that aren't scary but were still engaging to me. They are all somewhat dark. This is a book that could introduce short stories to those who enjoy reading novels. Don't pass it by because it's a short story collection!
This book surprised me. I wasn't expecting much because the blurb was a bit vague on what the stories were about. All I knew was this: 'Some are ghost stories, others are simply scary, and most have a twist in the tail. In each story, there is a character who, one way or another, feels lost.' I can honestly say that it delivered on that promise. What it contains is a number of delightfully twisted little stories, that aren't always scary, and there may have been one about time and a wish that went over my head, but were none the less fascinating and enjoyable to read. Do recommend for anyone who likes twists and a little bit of horror (at least the kind without gore). If I had any complaint about this book, it would be simply that it was not long enough for me, but then I'm greedy like that."
"Some of these stories are really great! It's rare to find a book of short stories where you like them all; some were definitely stronger than others. Worth a read, particularly if you enjoy short format.