Monday 17 August 2015

Reviewing the Evidence! - Printer's Devil Court

Title: Printer's Devil Court (US Link)
Author: Susan Hill
Genre: Horror, historical fiction, ghost story

A few starting notes:

This is a novella from modern master of the period ghost story, Susan Hill - author of similarly spoopy (I'm sorry purists - I, of course, mean spooky) tale, The Woman in Black.


Hugh Meredith is a medical student at the turn of the last century (I think - it's never made all that clear to be honest,) when his fellow students suggest something which usually ends so well - raising the dead. Cue poop hitting fan and ghostly goings-on.

Best bits:

The atmospherics are pretty damned awesome here - this is something that Susan Hill can do. Gothic setting? Check. Shiver down my back? Check. Ghosties? Check.

It's also illustrated - giving it an authentic-style old-timey feel in its mimicry of the old plate illustrations in Victorian/Edwardian books/periodicals.

The entire thing is inherently readable - short, illustrated, and gothic. Awesomeness.

Not so great bits:

There's no excuse for the degree of typos folks, there's just not. You say there are two other doctors and then name three? It will jar you right out of the story. It's just not on, and I hope it's different in other editions.

The time-frame is never made all that clear - and I have some time perception issues that would've benefitted from clarity. Also, what level of technology and setting are we supposed to be imagining? Time period makes a difference when you're writing historical fiction - you can't leave it all fuzzy-wuzzy and up in the damned air!

Also, given the subject matter, I would've expected some mention of Mary Shelley - whose book Frankenstein was definitely in print at the time in which this is set; bit of an ever-loving heffalump in the room.


I enjoyed this - if it wasn't for the practical problems (typos, fuzzy time-periods, etc.,) I would've looked on it far more kindly, but it is inherently a very good book. Any fan of gothic horror and/or ghost stories will love it.

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