Title: The Travelling Bag
Author: Susan Hill
Type: Short stories horror
Ebook from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review
It is with great regret that I must write my first negative/critical review for this blog.
Susan Hill may be most well known for ‘The Woman In Black’ a novel which I enjoyed. Her novels are set in the past and are excellent ghosts stories. I enjoyed her other novel ‘The Small Hand’ is was a really good read but I didn’t enjoy her novella ‘Printer Devil’s Court’ for the exact same reason why I didn’t really enjoy ‘The Travelling Bag’. I hoped that this book would be better but in her short fiction although you get the amazing horror writing that you can expect from this author, some chilling scenes that resonate in the mind after you’ve finished the book, the plot and ideas don’t seem fully formed or properly finished just like ‘Printer Devil’s Court’ and and they have disappointed me.
The Travelling Bag is a collection of four stories of horror:
The Travelling Bag is a story of revenge, which at first reminded me of a Sherlock Holmes story. A psychic investigator is telling the story of this “intriguing” case. I enjoyed the way that the story was told but didn’t get the point/plot in the end. It seemed a bit of a yarn although there was a chilling resonance at the conclusion.
The second story is Boy Number Twenty-One, it starts with a fire in an old house, Cloten Hall, and a man thinking back to how much it meant to him and if someone he knew was still there. We are told the story of how he met that person. I did not understand from the beginning what/who the boy was that meant so much to him and at the end of the story I was still uncertain.
Alice Baker is a more modern story of a new member of staff in an office and a weird smell and sense of oddness around her. It was an interesting story but it meanders and ends on an old cliche, I expected more to happen.
The final story in this collection is called Front Room. It starts off a bit ambiguous from the rest of the plot with a couple musing over a sermon they’ve heard in church about helping people less fortunate. They fix up their front room and suddenly a relative is mentioned who they can help. It is a very creepy story, with this evil woman. The horror scenes-towards the end- were not tense probably because they felt rushed and the ending also felt a bit sudden.
Each of these stories I’ve felt that I didn’t quite understand the point. I often read short horror stories and they usually leave me with a feeling of satisfaction at the conclusion, where some horror has been revealed or conquered. But Susan Hill’s stories while chilling they don’t have that satisfying conclusion. With each story I expected more from the beginning which the middle and end did not deliver. I can’t quite put my finger on what it was that didn’t make these stories work for me, whether it was the pacing, or whether they were just overwritten for short stories.
Susan Hill is a good horror writer, these short stories and her novels prove that she can write horror but I I won’t be reading Susan Hill’s short fiction anymore as I really don’t enjoy it, I will stick to the writers I do enjoy.
However, please remember this is all my opinion and you should always try a book for yourself.