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Ancestral Shadows collects nineteen of Russell Kirk's best ghostly tales from periodicals and anthologies published throughout his life. In the tradition of Defoe, Stevenson, Hawthorne, Coleridge, Poe, and other master writers, these frightful stories conjure the creaks and shadows of the very places where they came to life: haunted St. Andrews, the Isle of Eigg, Kellie CaAncestral Shadows collects nineteen of Russell Kirk's best ghostly tales from periodicals and anthologies published throughout his life. In the tradition of Defoe, Stevenson, Hawthorne, Coleridge, Poe, and other master writers, these frightful stories conjure the creaks and shadows of the very places where they came to life: haunted St. Andrews, the Isle of Eigg, Kellie Castle, Balcarres House, Durie House ("which has the most persistent of all country-house spectres"), and Kirk's own ancestral spooky house in Mecosta, Michigan....

Title : Ancestral Shadows: An Anthology of Ghostly Tales
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ISBN : 9780802839381
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 410 Pages
Status : Available For Download
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Ancestral Shadows: An Anthology of Ghostly Tales Reviews

  • booklady
    2019-04-05 23:17

    Ancestral Shadows by Russell Kirk are some of the most amazing short stories I've ever read. They are also not for the faint of heart, because they task both your vocabulary and imagination. I took my time reading them the first time (in 2011) and here I am on my second go-round ... savoring them again. Some stories are frightening, others crazily eerie, some thought-provoking, some puzzling, a couple I don't think I understood at all—even this time—although I know I did better. I would love to read these in a book club! Kirk reminds me of cross between Flannery O'Connor and Daphne du Maurier, somewhere between the bizarre and the terrifying. But every story leaves you with the sense that all of life and every single choice has consequence—for good or ill. In these stories, what you never know is who is alive, who is dead, and who is somewhere in between—in some nebulous state of being not quite one yet not the other. Sometimes the good person has returned from the dead to visit the evil living person to exact justice for the ill done them during life. In other cases, it might be an evil spirit allowed to wreak havoc on someone because they won't listen to anyone, or they're too greedy, mean-spirited or whatever. But whenever I get to thinking I've figured out Kirk's modus operandi so far as ‘justice’ is concerned, then I'll start a new story and it will be totally different. Amazing collection!I don't even like the genre of horror, but these aren't scary to no purpose. They aim to teach without being overtly didactic. MOST highly recommended! Each tale doesn't get the 5 star rating but it goes to the collection and to the author overall. (Last read 2014; due to read again!)

  • Sharon Barrow Wilfong
    2019-03-20 19:30

    Russell Kirk is best known for starting the Modern Conservative movement. A devout Catholic, his beliefs permeate each and every story. Therefore, the stories are not simply ghost tales but stories with a higher, other worldly message."...the tale of the preternatural- as written by George Macdonald, C.S. Lewis, Charles Williams, and other masters- can be an instrument for the recovery of moral order." -KirkAll of the stories are surreal, whether they are talking about demon possession, haunted houses, or Native America spiritism. In one story, a man stumbles into a place where dead friends dwell. At first he thinks he is dead, but it turns out that he made a "wrong turn" somewhere. If it was supposed to be heaven, it was a little bleak.They are not traditional or run of the mill but they are extremely suspenseful and I found them to be rather frightening. Some people will enjoy these stories and some probably won't understand what he's getting at.You'll have to read them for yourself and decide.

  • Werner
    2019-04-06 22:16

    Kirk was, as the above description notes, a major thinker in the 20th-century American conservative movement; but there are significant differences within that movement --and these are significant for an understanding of his fiction, too, since his view of the world profoundly shaped what he set out to say in all of his novels and stories. He was what is variously called a paleo-, traditional or classical conservative: one who isn't enamored of internationalism and "globalism," who doesn't view "efficiency" and "rationality" as ultimate values, or change as automatically good, and who is strongly distrustful of bigness for its own sake, whether it be that of Big Government or Big Business. The importance of small human communities bound together by traditional attachments and face-to-face relations, of religious faith (he was an adult convert to Catholicism) and a commitment to personal and social ethics deriving from it, of what his favorite poet T. S. Eliot called the "permanent things," all bulk large in his thought. Against the excesses of modern materialistic capitalism (which is as hostile a force to the "conserving" of anything of genuine social value as it's possible to imagine), he defended the rights and interests of small communities, small farmers, small business, rural and urban neighborhoods, and all those generally shoved into the gutter by the onslaught of totalitarian modernity. Nor did he support a bellicose foreign policy of imperial hegemony and perpetual "wars to end war." (He was not a supporter of the first invasion of Iraq, and it's not likely he would have supported the second one.)All of these concerns underlie the 19 stories collected here, and find expression, both subtle and direct, in these pages. The stories themselves are drawn from the three collections he published in his lifetime: The Surly, Sullen Bell (1962), The Princess of All Lands (1979), and Watchers at the Strait Gate (1984); they usually feature ghosts, who may be malevolent entities with an evil agenda, lethal agents of divine vengeance, or something else entirely, but sorcery, spirit-possession, and temporal slips also appear here. Indeed, the relativity of time is a fairly common theme in many of the stories, including "There's A Long, Long Trail A-Winding" (which won the World Fantasy Award), "An Encounter by Mortstone Pond" and "The Last God's Dream." (The titular "last god" is Diocletan, the last man to be deified by the Roman Senate.) Settings vary from the author's native rural Michigan; Scotland (where he did his graduate work); Africa; Split, Yugoslavia; and other locales, all of them well-realized. Christian content --often of a specifically conservative Catholic or Anglo-Catholic sort-- is prominent in several of the stories.Manfred Arcane, perhaps Kirk's most fascinating and complex character, who was introduced in the non-supernatural novel A Creature of the Twilight (1966) appears in two of the stories. Later, the author would take a character's persona from one of these stories and the Edinburgh setting of another, "Balgrummo's Hell" (in which Arcane doesn't appear --but which is later shown to have an unsuspected tie-in to him) as major elements in his only supernatural novel, Lord of the Hollow Dark, which also stars Arcane. (Jim, one of my fellow Supernatural Fiction Readers group members, didn't care much for that one --but I'd still like to give it a try sometime; I'm intrigued by the connections to these stories.)Kirk's style is perfectly adapted to his subject matter in these stories; his psychological and moral insights ring true, and I find his social commentary, for the most part, right on. The supernatural atmosphere of the stories can be broodingly menacing or poignant and beautiful (and sometimes both in the same story), but they always draw the reader in. My personal favorite is "The Reflex-Man in Whinnymuir Close" (and the Scots dialect of the narrator's voice there is pitch-perfect!); but there isn't a clunker in the whole book.

  • Jen B
    2019-03-26 00:35

    This is a genuinely delightful collection of tales of, as Kirk put it, the 'uncanny'—episodes of the worlds beyond the veil breaking or stepping through to our own, for both good and ill. They're beautifully, engrossingly written, as one expects from Kirk; thus it is with wonderful ease that the reader can slip into the worlds and lives woven for us. Here we read of spirits both vengeful and heroic, yet in each case things are so much deeper. Of course, these are so much more than mere ghost stories, but I hate to say anything lest I spoil any tale in particular! Though in several cases I could see exactly where things were going, that didn't lessen my enjoyment at all; we have Kirk's skill to thank for that.I enjoyed every story deeply. Upon finishing the volume, I actually went back and re-read a few of the stories, and particularly incredible bits of others. Also, as a fan of Kirk's, I will confess to being surprised at blurbs by writers such as Ray Bradbury praising this collection. Apparently Kirk's supernatural stories were quite renown in his day; how his fiction has slipped the cultural mind, I don't know.My only caution is that this is not a book one clips gaily through. Each tale is rich, and a couple of them left me rather drained, to tell the truth. No, these are short stories to truly savor. Of course, doing so only lengthens the amount of time the reader will spend with this book—and the time is very worthwhile indeed!

  • Karen L.
    2019-04-12 22:32

    Last night my husband read "Lex Talionis," aloud to myself and our kids. Now finding a story we could all agree on, with 2 teens and a preteen, was tricky, but we did it. Russel Kirk is an artist with words. He paints images of dark scenes, that remind me of stories I listened to long ago on the old "Radio Mystery Theater." The stories from "Ancestral Shadows" are ghostly tales, yet they have a Christian morality. He calls his own tales, "experiments in the moral imagination." My husband and I enjoy his stories so much , that we ordered this anthology from Amazon...Well, I had to read just one more before bed.So I chose to read, "Watchers at the Straight Gate." A chilling story of a priest, Father O'Malley and his encounter with a visitant looking to be absolved from his sins at 3AM. I won't tell you what he did...oooh but it was chilling! Ah the unusual twists and turns of the plot, the curios possibilities arising, and the ending...ah, satisfying and something to go to sleep ruminating on.

  • El
    2019-03-20 18:35

    These 19 short stories written over 25 years of Russell Kirk's life are remniscient of some of the best gothic and ghost stories of the turn-of-the-century. At times I found I had to remind myself that many of these stories were written in the mid-1900s, and not in the late-1800s. His stories cover the supernatural ("preternatural" as Kirk described his own ghost stories) and the occult, mixed with a dash of theology, a toss of history, and a wallop of politics. These are probably some of the best short stories I have read, and certainly some of the best ghost stories, similar to Henry James (but not so dry), Edith Wharton, a little bit of Poe, a little bit of Hawthorne - even a little Flannery O'Connor in the darkness of writing style (and that, to me, is highest of praise); but all very much Kirk (as I have not read anything else by Kirk yet, this is just supposition).Favorites: "Ex Tenebris", "Lex Talionis", "Fate's Purse" and especially "The Princess of All Lands".

  • Sam
    2019-04-12 21:39

    Read this book for a college class - loved it. Dark, yet spiritual.

  • Stephen
    2019-04-11 00:37

    "Ghost stories" invariably makes me think of legends and folklore, but Ancestral Shadows is an altogether different anthology. Instead, its stories all feature ghostly characters and themes of redemption, revenge, or realization. The ghosts here are not transparent wraiths, scaring mortals or playing tricks with the furniture. They are in the midst, caught in the veil between the living and the dead, dwelling in their own moments of time. Some are corporeal enough that they believe themselves still living, and the news of their death comes as a surprise to both them and the reader. Ancestral Shadows enmeshes its characters in tradition and place; ghosts are inherently localists, but most of the the living featured here are likewise bound to their villages, family homes, and familiar places. The collection opens, for instance, with a ailing woman who lives in a mostly-abandoned village that is targeted for destruction by the local planning authorities. Living more in her memories than reality, she visits a church graveyard regularly to sweep the tombstones; her distress at the hands of the bully-planner, and devotion to the departed, bring an unexpected ally in the form of a vicar who died mysteriously decades ago. Time makes itself substantial in these stories; in one, a pecuilar man faced with a blizzard breaks into an abandoned home, and experiences a violent moment in the home's history -- but was it a moment etched into the memory of the house, or was it his? The stories are set in the United States, Great Britain, the Italio-Austrian border, and even east Africa, and each draw the reader and the main character deeper into a mystery, until -- fully enveloped by it -- there is a line dropped, a corner turned, and suddenly both parties realize something that had been hitherto hidden . These stories aren't written just to envelope the mind in mystery; the clarity of the end-page doesn't dispel a puzzle so much as it centers the character; before they were lost, now they are found. That's not to say they're feel-good parables, for the tales also include moments of vengeance and retribution.If you can find it, this is an excellent collection of stories, both chilling and thoughtful. I obtained a copy through interlibrary loan.

  • Deborah Schuff
    2019-04-03 00:22

    Russell Kirk is a well-known political conservative who wrote many books and columns on the subject. Much less well-known are his ghost stories, the best of which are collected in this volume. As Vigen Gurion so eloquently put it in his introduction, "...Kirk's rich imaginative mind vividly casts the drama of the soul's struggle with good and evil in relation to a transcendent realm of meaning and purpose. ....[He] infuses into his stories his most deeply held religious, moral, and political convictions...[and] develops a unique style, distinguished by strong ethical, metaphysical,, and theological insights." Sounds deadly dull and earnest, right? It isn't. Think "Supernatural" without the brothers' wise-ass attitudes. These are some truly terrifying tales. You won't be disappointed.

  • Craig
    2019-03-24 21:21

    I'm not ussually into ghost stories. I got this after it was recommended at The Hational Review Online around halloween. Russell Kirk was (apparently) a famous conservative writer and a contributor to National review. The first few stories are great! Creepy, fun, and the villians tend to be central planners and other such intrusive-government beurocrat busibodies. Fun stuff. I read a story at bedtime about once a week.

  • Kevin Lucia
    2019-03-22 22:24

    Kinda hate to do this, because Kirk is a good writer and story-teller, so I'll probably come back to this at a later date and finish it off. Problem is, they're all ghost stories, mildly varied, one right after the other...so I'm burning out on it, a little. Definitely worth the read, though, as I'll probably come back at another time and finish it.

  • Sam Torode
    2019-04-11 18:26

    I was honored to be able to create the cover art and design for "Ancestral Shadows." It was a dream for several years before the publisher went ahead with the book. Great to see so many readers enjoying Russell Kirk's ghostly tales!

  • John Considine
    2019-03-23 19:15

    Terrific book which is even more scary if you know some Catholic understanding of death and afterlife. The stories really make you thnk.

  • Kay
    2019-03-19 22:19

    This author is known more for his non-fiction writings, but I really enjoyed these strange tales.

  • Michael
    2019-03-27 18:17

    The creepiest ghost stories I have ever read.

  • Sean Meade
    2019-04-06 20:29

    This is a collection of delightful Catholic ghost stories.One of the things I like about these stories is that they are moral. Usually, the bad guy gets justice, at least ultimately. Sometimes good people are victims of foul play, but they go on to a better place.How could one person think of so many good ideas for ghost stories (and similar stories that aren't technically about ghosts)?In the afterward, Kirk lists George Macdonald, CS Lewis and Charles Williams as masters of tales of the preternatural. I have read almost all of their stories of that kind (I may be missing a few by Lewis), and I consider Kirk to be of their ilk (although that is high praise indeed.I understand that Kirk is an arch-conservative. Some of his commentary was in that vein (e.g. interstate highways are always bad), but I did not find it distracting.