What’s Sera Reading? The Travelling Bag by Susan Hill

Susan Hill was born in Scarborough, North Yorkshire, in 1942. She is a highly decorated author of several genres, but her favourite is always ghost stories. She has written over 55 books in several genres, including the ghost story THE WOMAN IN BLACK. The stage adaption is still running in London’s West End after 25 years. I’M THE KING OF THE CASTLE has been a GCSE set text for over 10 years.

The Travelling Bag And Other Ghostly Stories was initially a 2016 collection of four short stories. The 2017 paperback edition, which we have at Stourport Library, included a fifth story, ‘Printer’s Devil Court’.

The collection of short stories all have the setting and content of dark and menacing but not gruesome Hill likes to sneak into your uneasy feelings and draw them out. ‘The Travelling Bag. is a classic victorian ghost story. It’s the revenge of genius and fear of moths. (my sister would agree moths are creepy) narrated by a detective who concentrates on the travelling bag brought to him by a widow and finds the truth about the bag and its winged contents. In ‘Boy 21’, it’s the loneliness and the sense of the unwanted or rejected that causes the oddness. A lonely boy finds a friend, but years later, the odd friendship has the man questioning his sanity. ‘Alice Baker’ is the odd one out for me. I love the description and tone. The smells of death and decay around her, the foreboding, but it ends all too quickly and not fully unravelled. ‘The front room follows the slightly more modern family drama haunting 1950s suburbia. I love how much we, the reader, are drawn into hating the character of stepmother Solange. The sinister way she draws on the energy of the children, much like she did to Norman’s Father. I don’t mind the giggle at the Sunday sermon being taken a bit too literally. Finally, the ‘Printer’s Devil Court’ tale is creepy and tense. It has the feel you get from an old Hammer House of Horror movie. The raising of Lazarus has been debated in science before, and I love this version of collecting the final breath to give to another person to prevent them from dying completely. The consequences undoubtedly pursue one of them to the grave – and perhaps beyond.

In all, this is a beautiful collection of stories and a great way to be introduced into the occult/ghostly genre. They are quick and easy to read, you won’t be disappointed.

Published by BlueFalcon1983

YA Writer and illustrator

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