TBR Thursday 173…

Episode 173…

Another tiny step in the right direction this week – the TBR is down 1 to 231. Here are a few more that I should get to soon…


Courtesy of Oxford World’s Classics. Another of the great anthologies I’ve been lucky enough to acquire to feed the porpy’s addiction this autumn. There’s a new paperback edition of this due out on 25th October but the old edition is still available in the meantime. It’s introduced and edited by Darryl Jones, who’s becoming my go-to expert in classic horror and sci-fi in the way Martin Edwards is for vintage crime…

The Blurb says: The modern horror story grew and developed across the nineteenth century, embracing categories as diverse as ghost stories, supernatural and psychological horror, medical and scientific horrors, colonial horror, and tales of mystery and premonition. This anthology brings together 29 of the greatest horror stories of the period from 1816 to 1912, from the British, Irish, American, and European traditions. It ranges widely across the sub-genres to encompass authors whose terror-inducing powers remain unsurpassed.

The book includes stories by some of the best writers of the century – Hoffmann, Poe, Balzac, Dickens, Hawthorne, Melville, Zola – as well as established genre classics such as M. R. James, Arthur Machen, Bram Stoker, Algernon Blackwood, Charlotte Perkins Gilman and others. It includes rare and little-known pieces by writers such as William Maginn, Francis Marion Crawford, W. F. Harvey, and William Hope Hodgson, and shows the important role played by periodicals in popularizing the horror story. Wherever possible stories are reprinted in their first published form, with background information about their authors and helpful, contextualizing annotation. Darryl Jones’s lively introduction discusses horror’s literary evolution and its articulation of cultural preoccupations and anxieties. These are stories guaranteed to freeze the blood, revolt the senses, and keep you awake at night: prepare to be terrified!

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Courtesy of Allen Lane. Tom Devine is probably the most distinguished Scottish historian of the last few decades, so I’m looking forward to learning more about this shameful period of Scottish history – a period that affected not only Scotland but has had a major impact on most of the English-speaking world through the resulting Scottish Diaspora… (Factlet: 33 American Presidents have Scottish ancestry – 34 if you consider Trump to be a real President.)

The Blurb says:  Eighteenth-century Scotland is famed for generating many of the enlightened ideas which helped to shape the modern world. But there was in the same period another side to the history of the nation. Many of Scotland’s people were subjected to coercive and sometimes violent change: traditional and customary relationships were overturned and replaced by the ‘rational’ exploitation of land use.The Scottish Clearances is a superb and highly original account of this sometimes terrible process, which changed the Lowland countryside forever, as it also did, more infamously, the old society of the Highlands.

Based on an extensive use of original sources, this pioneering book is the first to chart this tumultuous saga in one volume, with due attention to evictions and loss of land in both north and south of the Highland line. In the process, old myths are exploded and familiar assumptions undermined. With many fascinating details and the sense of an epic human story, The Scottish Clearances is an evocative memorial to all whose lives were irreparably changed in the interests of economic efficiency.

The result created the landscape of Scotland as we know it today, but that came at a price. This is a story of forced clearance, of the destruction of entire communities and of large-scale emigration. Some winners were able to adapt and exploit the new opportunities, but there were also others who lost everything.

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Vintage Crime

Courtesy of Collins Crime Club. I’ve only read a couple of Max Carrados short stories before, so I’m looking forward to reading this, the only full-length novel. Plus, who could possibly resist that fabulous cover?

The Blurb says: The classic crime novel featuring blind detective Max Carrados, whose popularity rivalled that of Sherlock Holmes, complete with a new introduction and an extra short story.

In his dark little curio shop Julian Joolby is weaving an extravagant scheme to smash the financial machinery of the world by flooding the Oriental market with forged banknotes. But this monster of wickedness has not reckoned on Max Carrados, the suave and resourceful investigator whose visual impairment gives him heightened powers of perception that ordinary detectives overlook.

Max Carrados was a blind detective whose stories by Ernest Bramah appeared from 1914 alongside Sherlock Holmes in the Strand Magazine, in which they often had top billing. Described by George Orwell as among ‘the only detective stories since Poe that are worth re-reading’, the 25 stories were collected in three hugely popular volumes, culminating in a full-length novel, The Bravo of London (1934), in which Carrados engages in a battle of wits against a fiendish plot that threatens to overthrow civilisation itself.

This Detective Club classic is introduced by Tony Medawar, who investigates the impact on the genre of Bramah’s blind detective and the relative obscurity of this, the only Max Carrados novel. This edition also includes the sole uncollected short story The Bunch of Violets.

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Historical Crime

Courtesy of Bloomsbury Publishing via NetGalley. I was very tempted by Purcell’s earlier novel, The Silent Companions, but still haven’t managed to fit it in. So I decided to grab her new one quick…

The Blurb says: Dorothea Truelove is young, wealthy and beautiful. Ruth Butterham is young, poor and awaiting trial for murder.

When Dorothea’s charitable work leads her to Oakgate Prison, she is delighted with the chance to explore her fascination with phrenology and test her hypothesis that the shape of a person’s skull can cast a light on their darkest crimes. But when she meets teenage seamstress Ruth, she is faced with another theory: that it is possible to kill with a needle and thread. For Ruth attributes her crimes to a supernatural power inherent in her stitches.

The story Ruth has to tell of her deadly creations – of bitterness and betrayal, of death and dresses – will shake Dorothea’s belief in rationality, and the power of redemption.

Can Ruth be trusted? Is she mad, or a murderer?

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NB All blurbs and covers taken from Goodreads or Amazon UK.

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So…what do you think? Do any of these tempt you?

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32 thoughts on “TBR Thursday 173…

    • Haha – every time I remember he’s part Scottish I hang my head in shame… 😉 I haven’t read Tom Devine before, but my sister has recommended him to me several times, so I’m looking forward to it – I’d like to know more about the Clearances.


  1. You’ve got some really interesting books here, FictionFan! The Devine looks fascinating – I always like to know more about history – and you’ve some very appealing-looking vintage crime, too. I’d say you have some good reading ahead of you. And I had to chuckle at your comment about how many US presidents have Scottish ancestry. Yeah, 33.


    • I’m looking forward to the Devine. I know about the Clearances, of course, but only in a kind of “common knowledge” way – it’ll be good to find out more about the actual facts, especially from such a well-respected historian. And I’ve got so many great looking vintage crime novels waiting – I think I may have to have a binge-read! Hahaha – of course, in some cases, the male gene is dominant… 😉

      Liked by 1 person

    • Hahaha – every time I look at our Scottish First Minister, I thank my stars that some Scots emigrated to America… but anyway I’m sure that in some cases, the male gene is dominant… 😉 I’m sure the TBR is on a downward trend now… you do believe me, don’t you? Don’t you???

      Liked by 1 person

  2. That last one sounds most intriguing. The premise reminds me of another book I read some time ago — can’t recall its title now, but it was sooo good. I’ll be interested in your review!


  3. I like the sound of the Horror Stories book – some great authors in there! I have The Silent Companions lined up to read soon, so if I enjoy that one I might be adding The Corset to the TBR as well.


    • It looks like a great collection – I’ve read a few of the stories before and they’ve all been great, so I have high hopes for all the other ones. Oh, I hope you enjoy The Silent Companions – I’ve seen so many glowing reviews of it. And both of them sound nicely spooky, so good for this time of year… 😀


    • I’m bogged down in the Reformation at the moment – it’s taking me nearly as long to read the book as it took for the whole thing to happen! So you may well get to the Clearances before me…


  4. Ok the horror collection at the beginning sounds the best-and what a creepy cover! I love the idea of reading stories in sections, like in the old days when they released them bit by bit. I long for that time!!!


    • That horror collection does look great – loads of real classics in it, plus plenty I don’t know. Yes, I’ve always fancied the idea of serials too – in fact, I’m trying to read some of the long classics over a longer time, rather than racing to get through them, and I think it actually makes me take them in better…

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I’m glad you didn’t snare me with your bookish temptations this week, FF. I’m creeping along slowly with my reread of Jane Eyre and keep seeing all sorts of tempting books popping up everywhere… but I am interested in finding out more about the Clearances, so I look forward to your thoughts.


    • It’s years since I last read Jane Eyre – hope you’re enjoying it! I’m looking forward to the Clearances book too – it’s a period I’ve read fiction about but never an actual history. I shall get you next week, I’m sure… 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I’m interested in learning more about The Scottish Clearances. Your reviews of NF are satisfying enough that I don’t feel as though I have to read the book myself. Which is a big win for the tbr!


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