Element of Doubt: Ghost Stories by A.L. Barker
Trade Paperback – Valancourt Books – 2023 – 159 pages
An eight-year-old boy’s strange behavior may have something to do with the ghost of his older brother, whose death was written off as a tragic accident – but was it? A man is lured into the clutches of a centuries-old woman who plans to use him for a terrible purpose. An academic is haunted by the mad theories of a dead colleague. An old woman’s conviction that her fur coat is actually a dead dancing bear may be more than just senile delusions. These thirteen stories are about hauntings both literal and figurative: not only ghosts of the deceased, but also of the past, of lost loves and dead relationships, and explore the ways the uncanny can creep into our everyday lives.
A. L. Barker (1918-2002) was critically acclaimed in her lifetime, becoming the first writer to win the Somerset Maugham Award as well as being shortlisted for the Booker Prize. In addition to her literary fiction, she wrote a number of fine ghost and horror stories during her long career, the best of which are collected in Element of Doubt (1992), now available at last in a new edition.