Thursday, January 16, 2014

The Phantom Coach

   I had a story idea the other night as I was drifting off to sleep (I often get ideas at that time) about a ghostly or demonic carriage. That reminded me of the Death Coach from the old Disney movie Darby O'Gill and the Little People. I remembered being absolutely terrified by that coach when I was a kid. So I tracked down a clip of it on youtube and found that it really was just a bad 1960s special effect and not at all scary. That's the power of childhood imagination though.
   Anyway, while Googling Ghost Coach and related words I came across mention of a story called The Phantom Coach by Amelia B. Edwards. I recognized Edwards' name from some of my Victorian ghost story anthologies, and recalled that I had enjoyed her spooky tales. A quick check of Amazon showed a kindle edition of a collection of Edwards' ghost stories from the ever useful Ash Tree Press. The title of the collection was, you guessed it, THE PHANTOM COACH. Obviously it was meant to be mine.
   Downloaded the book and read the titular story and it was indeed a creeper. Like many Victorian stories it starts off slow as Edwards' first person narrator tells of an ill fated hunting trip where he became lost in a sudden snow storm. He wanders around until he finds an isolated cabin, the owner of which tells him how to get to a crossroads where he can catch the mail coach and get a ride back to the inn where his wife is staying. The cabin owner's servant also tells the narrator a tale of a tragic carriage accident from nine years before. The man never quite reaches the crossroads and though he does come across a carriage, it's not the one he was looking for. Heh heh heh, as EC's The Old Witch used to say.
   Edwards may have been a Victorian lady but she pulls no punches with the gruesome goings on. This story would have made a great episode of The Twilight Zone, I think. A very cool tale. And best of all, it's only one of many in the collection. Ash Tree Press continues to be one of the best publishers of old collections of horror and most of their book are available as ebooks now, so there's no reason not to own lots of them. Go here to check them out.


Keith West said...

Ash-Tree is fantastic. I don't have this one in dead tree format, but I just might have to get it. I need some classic ghost stories for my ereader.

Paul R. McNamee said...

On the wishlist. Thanks!

Charles R. Rutledge said...

Keith, yeah I've bought so much good stuff from them.

YW Paul. Think you'd enjoy the stories.