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Old 07-01-2022, 08:15 AM   #1
GrannyGrump
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Caldecott, Sir Andrew: Fires Burn Blue. v1. 01 Jul 2022

(This is not really horror — it is “supernatural” or “weird” fiction.)

This collection of weird tales, written in his retirement by a former colonial Governor of Hong Kong and Ceylon, are highly entertaining without attaining the level of the author’s model, M.R. James. Fans of the latter will know what to expect: understatement, preference for suggestion over the explicit, an blandly urbane tone which renders sudden intrusions of horror all the more effective — all those things the modern Gore Masters neither appreciate nor understand.

If Caldecott’s horrors tend to be a little tame alongside those of James, he nevertheless produced some effective stories. … I find myself leaning to those which are set in the fictional British colony of Kongea, where Caldecott is able to draw on his own background for local colour: “Grey Brothers” is particularly fine, with its portrait of an Englishman gone native, who acquires some very ghastly allies among the jungle fauna; the story is at first almost humorous, and finally disturbing, in the best Jamesian manner [and perhaps showing the influence of Joseph Conrad]. “Light in the Darkness” (a nicely ironic title) is also very good, as it tells of the unpleasant consequences of attempting to debunk a native cult.

Of the non-Kongea stories, I’d perhaps pick “His Name was Legion”: structurally the story is a bit of a mess, but some very nasty moments, and some even nastier verse make up for that. All in all, a very worthwhile treat for fans of sophisticated supernatural fiction.
[— “Isadore”, Goodreads]

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Sir Andrew Caldecott GCMG CBE KStJ FRAS FRSA (26 October 1884 – 14 July 1951) was a British colonial administrator. He served as governor of Hong Kong and Ceylon (Sri Lanka). In his early life, he wrote articles and books about Malayan affairs and history. In his late years, he published two collections of supernatural fiction, Not Exactly Ghosts and Fires Burn Blue.

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Fires Burn Blue, by Sir Andrew Caldecott (1884-1951), was first published in 1948. This ebook is in the public domain where copyright is “Life+70” or less.
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