I love the old tradition of ghost stories at Christmas and wish it was more popular. The Victorians really knew how to create the right atmosphere and this story is right there with them. The publication I read is accompanied by illustrations by Seth, and they are very good and stylish too.
The story is straightforward enough. A man goes to spend Christmas with his friend as he is on his own and will be working sporadically. The friend lives in a quiet, remote place and there isn't much to do, so the man takes himself to the mudflats to take in a bit of duck shooting. As he is following the water fowl he comes across a shipwreck and investigates. While exploring, the vessel he travelled in becomes loose and drifts off, meaning that he has to spend the night on the wreck in the hope that his friend comes to find him quickly.
There is a lot of nautical terminology that I was unfamiliar with (I have since found out that Cowper was an excellent yachtsman, and this was the main reason for his fame). Despite this, it doesn't distract from the tale and it is still easy to follow. Written in the first person in a typical Victorian gentleman's style, everything is explained logically and clearly.
The story is atmospheric and creepy, the desolation adds to the unsettling theme. A great story to read in the dark nights of winter around the fire.
Originally published in 1889. This edition published by Biblioasis on 2 October 2018.
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