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The Book of Irish Weirdness:
A Treasury of Classic Tales of the Supernatural, Spooky and Strange

Sterling Publishing Co. Inc, 484 pages

Irish Weirdness
Irish Ghosts
There's no shortage of great spooky tales of Ireland out there. Here are some places to start.

The Read Ireland Book Store
McCade's True Ghost Stories
Ghost Stories
alt.folklore.ghost-stories

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Margo MacDonald

There is no denying that the Irish are masterfully weird -- I should know, I'm married to one... but it is truer still that their folk tales are even weirder. For instance, it is a really spooky coincidence that most of their stories about meeting fairies, leprechauns or any other supernatural being usually begin "I was on my way home from a party at so-and-so's and, feeling weary, sat myself down in the road for a rest when..."

This book contains 35 stories written/recorded by about 25 different Irish authors from the late 19th and early 20th centuries. There are two things almost all of these authors have in common; one, they are terrific at creating a mood -- whether it is creepy or comical; but, two, they are also rather poor at endings. There were only a handful of stories in this collection that had what I felt were satisfying endings, while the rest left me feeling somehow cheated out of a really good scare, or a really good laugh, whichever the case may have been.

I suppose it's not surprising that the best of the collection were written by the most famous authors, like Oscar Wilde, W.B. Yeats and Bram Stoker. But there are also some great comic tales by D.R. McNally, Jr. and a truly eerie offering by Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu, to name a few. I will admit to skipping over a few that didn't catch my fancy after a few paragraphs, but overall I enjoyed most of this collection and will probably re-read a few of these stories whenever Hallowe'en rolls around -- by candlelight, with the wind howling at the door, if possible.

I would have liked a little biographical information on each of the authors to be included, as well as the date the stories were written, but then again perhaps the tales should speak for themselves... like the dead apparently do throughout the Irish countryside.

One word of caution before you rush out to buy it, however -- this is not a new collection. The printing history tells me that if you have ever read Irish Wonders, Celtic Tales of Terror, Famous Irish Ghost Stories or the Leprechaun Book, you won't find much new in this collection. But, as they say, they may be oldies but they're goodies.

Copyright © 1997 by Margo MacDonald

Margo has always been drawn toward fantasy and, at the age of 5, decided to fill her life with it by pursuing a career as a professional actress. Aside from theatre (and her husband), Margo's passion has been for books. Her interests are diverse and eclectic, but the bulk fall within the realm of speculative fiction. She tells us that her backlog has reached 200 books and she's ready to win the lottery and retire.


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