Friday, 23 September 2011

Tales of Terror from the Black Ship Review

Tales of Terror From The Black Ship
-       Chris Priestley
Publisher: Bloomsbury

At the Old Inn, which clings precariously to a cliff top above a storm-lashed ocean, two sick children are left alone while their father fetches the doctor. Then a visitor comes begging for shelter, and so begins a long night of storytelling, in which young Ethan and Cathy, who have an unnatural appetite for stories of a macabre persuasion, sit out the last throes of the storm in the company of a sailor with more than enough grisly tales to satisfy them. But something about this sailor puts Ethan on edge, and he becomes increasingly agitated for his father's return. Only when the storm blows itself out can Ethan relax - but not for long, for the new dawn opens the children's eyes to a truth more shocking, more distressing than anything they heard the night before.
Once again Chris Priestley presents us with a selection of ghostly tales covering a variety of sea-related monsters and frights linked together by an intriguing tale of two sick children waiting for their father to return with the doctor. I enjoyed the previous tale – Uncle Montague’s Tales of Terror (reviewed here), but I definitely preferred these selection of tales. The ongoing theme of nautical terror was a strong link between stories – after all what is scarier than being trapped on a ship with a bunch of strangers, surrounded by unfriendly seas for miles? Add a ghostly element, or a mermaid or even sea snails and suddenly you’re feeling ever so glad you’re sat firmly inland with the sea well out of sight reading a book rather than out on the big blue.
As is usually the case with short stories, some are more memorable than others – the one about the sea snails definitely sticks with me! This time the link between stories was just as strong as the stories and I was intrigued about the sailor’s background and the children’s home life – how long would their father be gone? It was this linking theme that kept me turning the pages, wanting to know what happens next.
The writing feels like a classic ghost story – ancient and yet modern at the same time. The words just flew by and I pretty much sailed through the book (yes, that pun was intended!). Plus how creepy is that cover? A great read for Halloween or any time a storm in brewing...
Recommended for fans of Peter Beagle and R.L. Stine. 8 out 10


  1. The Tales of Terror books are all great, even for me as an adult, and I really like how the individual stories aren't just presented as a collection but through a narrator in each book and, like you mentioned, the linking theme makes the read all the more thrilling. Personally I liked this one the least of all three books (hey, I still gave it a 4 star rating) but that's just because I'm not that much into seafaring tales.

  2. Arghhh, sorry! Third try, I got that I am not allowed to post *grumbles*

    So I am just saying, yay that it was good

  3. This series is awesome! I loved all three of the full length books, I think the third may have been my favourite. I just read the short world book day edition too and that's lovely :)

  4. Thanks for this review Mel. I've been looking for ghost books to add to my Halloween TBR, and I hadn't heard of this one before. :)

  5. This is the only one in the series I've not read...I think I would prefer this to the other ones...must hunt this down.
    @Raimy I loved the WBD one too!

  6. You're right, the sea is much scarier. This book sounds awesome!

  7. Oh this sounds like a great one for All Hallows Eve! :) Brilly review. I so need to add it to the wishlist!

  8. Mel you are just popping up with some books that it looks like I will love. Are you a doll after my own heart or what??

    Pabkins @

  9. Seems like a great read for the season. I need a great ghost story.