Visible and Invisible

 Visible and Invisible, by E. F. Benson

This was one of those books that I got from or something -- who knows when or why.  I wasn't sure what it was, and had no memory of who E. F. Benson was.  (Turns out he wrote the Mapp and Lucia books, which I have never read.)  So, what was this book?

It's a collection of creepy stories!  Ghost stories, or vampires, or strange happenings.  And they're really good.  This is Benson's second collection of creepy stories, published in 1923.  I now proclaim that I like Benson more than de la Mare when it comes to ghost stories.  

A notable feature of these stories is that Benson finds tall ("Junoesque"), outgoing, attractive, cheerful middle-aged women to be scary.  The competent -- possibly the village busybody -- lady that you meet all the time in Agatha Christie stories shows up in several stories as a likeable secret vampire, or murderer.

Seances are also a favorite theme, and I particularly liked a humorous story about Mr. Tilly, who is killed on his way to his weekly seance, and so arrives a little late.

The last story, "Horror-horn," is something of a departure -- it's about a skiing holiday in the Alps, on the Ungeheuerhorn.  Rumor has it that there are creatures up on the mountain...

This collection has a really enjoyable variety of stories, and they're good.  I recommend Benson to fans of old-school scary stories.



  1. He also wrote some mysteries which i think i read at least one of... i know i liked the Mapp and Lucia books quite a bit; there was a TV series made of them that i've never seen... these stories appeal even tho i usually try to avoid scary stuff... the library had a copy of Devolution; as soon as they decide to let me touch it, i'll read it and let you know if it's at all authentic... Ms. Mudpuddle climbed Mt. Lassen a few years ago: great experience for her...

  2. I didn't know he wrote horror/ghost stories. Interesting.

    Benson's terror of Junoesque women also carries over into Mapp & Lucia, though in a somewhat different vein...

    Ungeheuerhorn makes me think of ungeheuren Ungeziefer, which is what Gregor Samsa changes into (not specifically a cockroach) in Kafka. (And is about all the German I remember anymore...)


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