Stephen Cashmore's first collection of Halloween and Christmas ghost stories consists of tales written for his children over a long period of time. Its only natural that they grow gradually more complex and somewhat darker over time. It's also useful to have short introductions by the author explaining the circumstances leading to each story. That said, as they were written to be read aloud these stories all have a refreshing directness in common. No stylistic trickery or fancy long words here.
Thus with 'Wheelybins' it was, in part, the introduction of the now-familiar garbage disposal containers. Back in the Nineties they were rather novel, I recall, and replaced the old-school cylindrical dustbin, now as dead as the dodo. The wheelybins in this tale have minds of their own and a little girl thinks it wise to befriend them, as they are quite able to deal with troublemakers.
Next up is 'Halloween Stories' is a story about people telling stories, which is a story of a fairly familiar type. It works well as each member of the family gathered round the fire tries to outdo the others with a spooky tale. The final story-within-the story is a compelling one, and overall this works nicely.
Third up today is 'Trouble With Gus', a doggy tale. This takes us into the realms of family holidays in an old car, and the odd habits of Gus, the amiable pooch. Gus becomes a bit peculiar when the family get a new car, though, and this leads to the unravelling of a mystery. Dad figures out what's going on and manages to exorcise (in a way) a spectral presence. There's even a slight Jamesian touch in the finale on a beach.
More from this enjoyable read later!