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Not to be Taken at Bed-Time & Other Strange Stories
Rosa Mulholland
Sarob Press, 109 pages

Not to be Taken at Bed-Time & Other Strange Stories
Rosa Mulholland
Rosa Mulholland was born in 1841 in Belfast. She spent some years in a remote mountainous part of the West of Ireland after the death of her father. Her first novel was Dumana (1864), under the pen-name Ruth Murray. She originally wished to become a painter, but in her early literary life she received much help and encouragement from Charles Dickens. In 1891 she married John Thomas Gilbert, the Dublin antiquary and historian. They lived at Villa Nova, Blackrock, County Dublin. She became Lady Gilbert on his knighthood in 1897.

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Past Feature Reviews
A review by Mario Guslandi

After a long hiatus, the series Mistresses of the Macabre edited by the invaluable Richard Dalby, an expert of ghost and supernatural British fiction, and published by the excellent small imprint Sarob Press, returns with a collection of short stories by Rosa Mulholland. An Irish writer belonging to the Charles Dickens circle, Mulholland (1841-1921) was the author of several successful, but soon forgotten novels. The present volume, an elegantly produced hardcover book, assembles for the first time her best seven supernatural and weird tales.

"Not to be Taken at Bed-Time" is a vivid, sad story of love denied and of witchcraft gone wrong, while "The Ghost at Wildwood Chase" is a gentle ghost story with a very human twist in the tail.

In "The Ghost at the Rath," a traditional gothic tale, the ghost of a wicked lady is forced to take action in order to make things right about a certain inheritance and, in the rather conventional "The Haunted Organist at Hurly Burly," an organ has to be played up to the extreme consequences.

Mulholland is certainly not one of the recognized masters of the genre, her plots lacking originality and her clean but ordinary prose lacking that pathos which makes the reader uneasy and disquieted just as the genre enthusiast wants to feel. However, some of the tales therein are well worth reading.

In addition to the title story, I've especially enjoyed "The Mistery of Ora," a deliciously unsettling piece where necromancy and love at first sight unite to help a young lady in deep distress, and "A Strange Love Story," a longish, engrossing tale where a deceased young wife keeps her promise to come back from the dead to join again her lonesome husband.

All in all, a refreshing collection for the aficionados of classical supernatural fiction.

Copyright © 2013 by Mario Guslandi

Mario Guslandi lives in Milan, Italy, and is a long-time fan of dark fiction. His book reviews have appeared on a number of genre websites such as The Alien Online, Infinity Plus, Necropsy, The Agony Column and Horrorwold.

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