Tales of Terror From The Tunnel’s Mouth by Chris Priestley

I saved up my copy of Tales of Terror From The Tunnel’s Mouth for a long, time. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to read the stories, but I didn’t want them to be over. And I knew that this was the final part, the third book, of a wonderful trilogy.

In the end though I couldn’t resist. And when I picked the book up I read and I read.

I read the story of Robert, a child in Edwardian England, travelling back to school on his own for the very first time.

At first Robert was alone in a compartment. But as the train made stops others joined him. A number of men. And one woman. A pale young woman dressed in pure white ….

The train came to a halt by the mouth of a tunnel. The delay seemed unending. Robert noticed that many of his fellow travellers had fallen asleep, and that only he and the woman in white were awake.

She noticed too. And she began to tell him stories. She was a wonderful storyteller.

She told him stories of children she had known, and of things that had happened to them. Her stories started quietly, but as she spoke the sense of foreboding grew. And each story would end with a strange and unexpected twist. There would not be any happy endings.

The story of a governess struggling with a problem child who will lead her, and those around her, to question her sanity. A boy whose resentment of his father’s other interests leads him into terrible danger. A girl who is fascinated by a puppet theatre that is not at all what it seems. And, maybe the strangest tale of the whole trilogy, the story of a crack in a wall …

There are wonderful echoes of other stories in these tales.

Tales that are of their time, and yet utterly timeless.

It would be quite impossible for anyone, child or adult, not to be entranced.

Robert was. But he began to realise that something was amiss. That the train was two quiet. That his fellow travellers were too deeply asleep. In between the stories he tried to ask questions, but the woman in white gave him no answers.

Until her very last story, when everything would become clear ….

The ending was exactly right.

Everything was right – once again the words of Chris Priestley and the illustrations of David Roberts worked together quite beautifully.

I’m sorry that the trilogy is over, but now that it is I am quite sure that I will be going back to the beginning, visiting with Uncle Montague again, and listening to his tales.

If you haven’t met him yet, you really, really should …


11 responses

  1. I read Priestley’s novel ‘The Dead of Winter’ in 2010 and loved it, and I’ve had the first book in this trilogy knocking around for ages – I *MUST* read it very soon – especially as I’ve been struggling with M R James over Christmas for my book group.

  2. I adored all three of these books and plan a reread soon. And I second gaskella’s rec of Priestley’s ‘The Dead of Winter’. Very atmospheric and similar in tone to this trilogy.

  3. It sounds great, but is it scary? I don’t really like scary. The cover looks scary and it has the word ‘terror’ in the title. So it probably is scary isn’t it?

    • It’s terror in the old fashioned sense. No gore and nothing graphic, but there are children meeting terrible fates. I’d say this is one for older children and adults. And you might find the references in my reply to Simon helpful.

    • I’d look it out. The stories echo stories like The Turn of the Screw, The Signalman, The Yellow Wallpaper, and probably a good few more that I’ve forgotten or haven’t picked up. But I’d say Poe was probably the most obvious influence.

  4. Pingback: Sunday Caught My Interest – Tuesday « Reflections from the Hinterland

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