Spooky Du Maurier

Echoes from the Macabre is a great collection of Daphne Du Maurier short stories, with a spooky or other-worldly feel to them. There are nine stories in all, including some of her best known spooky shorts such as Don't look now and The birds. Both of which are extremely good stories. Don't look now is deeply atmospheric, and the film of the same name stayed amazingly close to the original story. The birds is different from its Hitchcock adaptation (for a start it is set in Cornwall, not west coast USA), but for all that I think its provincial atmosphere actually makes it a spookier and rather more uncomfortable read.

Three stories : The pool, The chamois and Not after midnight are weaker. While The old man will appeal to swan watchers, such as myself, but is not a particularly strong story otherwise.

Another three lesser known stories however really stand out. The apple tree is a very spooky, threatening revenge-type ghost story. But the stories that I found most outstanding in this collection are the well-known Don't look now, a tale of unknown psychic abilities and a serial killer, and the wonderful The blue lenses and Kiss me again, stranger.

The blue lenses is a truly unsettling sci-fi type tale. Not at all what you expect from Du Maurier. When a woman has an eye-operation, it has unexpected results as she starts to see people how they really are. Creepy and thought provoking, it's a most unusual tale. Kiss me again, stranger is a very different animal. To be honest I'm surprised that this tale can't be bracketed with Don't look now and The birds as a tale that has been adapted by film-makers. It is eminently filmable, it has a real cinematographic feel to it, and the basic storyline, which is about a serial killer, is again eminently filmable. If there are any film-makers out there I'd urge you to re-read this story. It's just crying out to be filmed.

So a fascinating collection of other-worldly tales. Just what you need to see you through a winter's evening.


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