The Haunted Looking Glass

This edition printed in:

An angelic orange cat looks up at the camera with big eyes. A book is behind it.

So What Do We Do With All These Apples?

I and my lovely spouse just got back from apple picking and it was a fabulous day out in that lovely autumn weather. We saw the trees, we walked around the corn maze, we went on a woodland stroll, we went on a hayride, and we saw some very cute goats and ponies. Then we wandered through the orchard to pick our very own two bags of crisp, beautiful apples. My lovely spouse takes her bag and gets a variety of apples — Braeburn, Mutsu, Golden Russet. Me? I’m a bit more boring and stick to my favourite — Crisp Pinks.

The cover of The Haunted Looking Glass shows a mirror behind a curtain reflecting a doorway on a hill.

And so we take our spoils home and then are faced with the very real problem of how to fit all of these apples into the fridge. Usually for the first week, I think, “Wow, we’ve gotten way too many.” And then a month or two I’ve switched to, “Wow, we should have gotten more.” Apples can last in the fridge anywhere from two to four months, so we’re well stocked for the coldest part of the winter.

A Cosy Collection of Old Favourites

The illustration for 'The Judge's House' shows an empty chair with a cat on the back and a rope dangling behind it.

Edward Gorey chose some real gems for this collection of spooky stories, ones that stretch from the Victorian Era into the 20th century. True, most were stories I have seen in other volumes, but they were also ones I greatly enjoyed reading again.

Particularly, I love Algernon Blackwood’s ‘The Empty House’, which is a haunted house story that always gives me a pleasant case of the heebie-jeebies.  W. F. Harvey’s ‘August Heat’ is short, but powerfully scary in its open-ended conclusion. There are also the classics W.W. Jacobs’ ‘The Monkey’s Paw’, Bram Stoker’s ‘The Judge’s House’, and Robert Louis Stevenson’s ‘The Body Snatcher’. If you haven’t read them yet, this is a great place to read each of them for the first time.

A tortoiseshell cat looks away from a VIctorian armchair.

The Illustrations

I think it’s obvious that what makes this collection stand out are the striking covers by Gorey himself as well as the one-page illustrations that accompany each story. I love Gorey’s art, and the feeling it creates of nostalgia and the simplicity of how he re-creates the dark eeriness of Victorian gothic aesthetic. Every year, my lovely spouse and I get three calendars and for the last two years we have made sure at least one of them was Gorey’s illustrations.

The illustrations are what drew my eye to this NYRB on the shelf in my local independent bookstore and it definitely makes the purchase worth it before you even get to Gorey’s stories selections. NYRB also helpfully provides a list of other NYRB books featuring Edward Gorey’s work and I am seriously tempted to try and collect them all.

A tortoiseshell cat looks up with a open mouth. A book is behind it.

A Word On Anthologies of This Sort

Any anthology usually ends up being a mixed bag in terms of content. There will be things you like and things you don’t. When a famous artist, writer, or illustrator that you admire is asked to select stories for an anthology it can be an extra special experience. In this case, it was extra enlightening to see that Edward Gorey had similar taste to me in terms of spooky stories.

In orange light, an orange cat kneels in front of a copy of The Haunted Looking Glass.

Of course, I have gotten other anthologies selected by other authors and found myself disappointed. Still others I’ve seen that pit a modern author’s work against (or at the very least unfairly compared an author’s work to) the classics — which is almost instantly off-putting for me. I often like anthologies that span from antiquity to modernity, but I don’t like it when the only modernity represented in a collection comes solely from the author who happens to have selected the stories in that collection.

However, readers should explore collections like these when they find them. It’s always an adventure at least.

An orange cat sits on a chair beside The Haunted Looking Glass.

Grumpy Cats

We got home a bit late, and were confronted with five grumpy cat faces waiting for us by the front door. It can be a small joy to look in the window first and see them all staring up at you with various levels of annoyance. Bubastis is usually the angriest, followed by Jabberwocky. Bandersnatch is more curious and, well, Rusalka is just happy to see us. Wesker is usually only peeking around the corner of the hallway or not even there at all. She’s happy to wait patiently in her special eating spot.

An orange cat sniffs The Haunted Looking Glass.

The rest of them are not as patient and usually it is a struggle to feed them simultaneously while trying to get apples inside and put away. However, despite the moments of chaos, I would not trade it for the world. They’re my family and I love them all.

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