The Travelling Bag and Other Ghostly Stories: Susan Hill

Published by Profile Books

An act of charity that goes horribly wrong, a travelling bag that when opened leads to a man’s death, a ghostly boy that only his friend can see, a mysterious co-worker with a strange smell, and a misguided attempt to raise the dead.

These are the five stories in this collection. They are set in various periods, including in Victorian England and in the 1950s. But they share an eeriness, a way of bringing the otherworldly into what seems a mundane situation.

In the title story, a psychic detective finds that the death of a prominent medical man, Sir Silas Webb, is not as straightforward as it looks. He uncovers a story of betrayal and jealousy, with the travelling bag that Webb was so attached to at the heart of it.

In “The Front Room”, Norman and Belinda, inspired by a sermon on charity, decide to bring Norman’s stepmother Solange to live with them, giving her the front room. However, Solange is nasty and envious, and her presence contaminates the household.

Four medical students share quarters in “Printer’s Devil Court”. Two of them think that they have found a way to bring the dead to life. They experiment by transferring the soul of an old man on the verge of death into the corpse of a young woman. But it is never a good idea to mess with nature, and the experiment has unforeseen consequences.

This book is a quick read, and enjoyable to dip into. It did not scare me as much as Susan Hill’s A Woman in Black, but did give me a bit of a frisson. If you’re looking for something just a little scary to curl up with at night, then I would recommend this book.

Read my review of Susan Hill’s The Woman in Black.

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