Rosalie Parker‘s first book follows in the English tradition of subtle weird fiction, Robert Aickman and Arthur Machen being obvious influences. Graced with modern and elegant language, this small collection of short stories evokes an intimate, tranquil and homey atmosphere, its rustic coziness embedded in both fluid unburdened writing and liminal contemporary setting. Concerning the latter, the book’s eight stories take place on the fringes of our world – villages, suburbs, the countryside – and dispense with the frantic rhythms of modern life which exists only as a distant echo.
The promise of the supernatural (largely of the folklore quality) lies behind every nook and corner, takes many forms (some of them original twists of familiar tropes), yet there is never a direct, definite revelation. Some of the stories -in accordance to Aickman’s manner- have very abrupt endings; therein lies a thorn – several of these finales (In the Garden, The Supply Teacher, The Old Knowledge) are executed in a rough manner, creating a bumpy transitional sensation. Despite this shortcoming, the Old Knowledge and Other Strange Tales is proven a spectacular debut, modern subtle weirdness done right.
Favourite stories: The Rain, The Cook’s Story, The Picture
Check also: Robert Aickman – Cold Hand in Mine, Arthur Machen – The White People and Other Weird Stories, M.R. James – Count Magnus and Other Ghost Stories