The malevolent influence of Godfrey Skayne stretches to a school immediately after the Great War…
Jonathan Barnes’ sequence of ghost stories continues with this insidiously creepy tale which moves the story forward to the early part of the 20th century. Once again it’s a first person narrative, with a slowly-burning claustrophobic feel as the events which put the narrator in a difficult position are gradually revealed.
This story moves away from the Lovecraft influence that could be felt in the first tale; R.F. Delderfield (To Serve Them All My Days) seems more relevant – the lead character returning from the Great War and not sure if his military experiences are influencing the way he sees the world. But there are some nasty little twists, and you’ll want to go back and reread the story once you’re aware of exactly how the characters are linked to each other.
You also start to get a better impression of who Skayne is; the sequence is reminding me of the old story about the blind people trying to describe an elephant based on the parts of anatomy that they can feel – there’s a sense of evil that is coming across in different ways, as Skayne tries to achieve his aims.
Verdict: Another taut vignette. 8/10