Various (Editor: Beech, Mark) - Unquiet Grove
Dark events set in the greenwood, well deep in the forests, far away from any footpath, let alone roadway. A world thronged with aged trees, whose perceptions of humans range from indifference to apprehension to hostility.
While out inspecting his estates, Mr Hopking died unexpectedly at age 47. He had been a talented, if eccentric, horticulturist. 150 years after his death, swathes of his grounds flourish still, resisting developers. In “The Secret Plantings Of Bostick St. Leonard” a descendant unwisely attempts to unravel bygone mysteries.
The city family relocates to the less hectic countryside. The new home, bought for a song, is in disrepair. Meantime, none of the locals will say why it is called “Burnt Orchard”. While wife and son succumb to the drowsy spell of the area, husband Nat resists and observes in growing anxiety.
A chance encounter with a doddering, semi-retired colleague, launches Dr. Suffling along a trail to modern paganism. “At The Roots” finds him drawn into a strange world of transmutation.
“The Dark Ballet Of The Trees” proves to be one of the bleakest works in this collection. An asylum for the mentally or emotionally damaged, run by a theatre impresario. Times are harsh, however, in what appears to be wartime Britain. Everything is impacted by the Blitz. Restrictions and money woes push several players into a corner, where anger and resentment inflames into rage.
A fateful encounter between one of the Fair and a young girl with a streak of witchery. ”In The White May”, both pocket something of an agenda. While they neither outright lies – both withhold. A haunting tale that lingers longer after the pages close.
“Uhripuu” journeys to the remote forest. Finland, buried under snow, where wilderness is being ravaged by a devastating fungus. Science, unable to reach a solution, invites a folklorist to listen to old tales, perhaps find a remedy in arcane legends. Another story of untrustworthy characters, hidden motives, with, perhaps, parallels to modern plagues – or ongoing pandemics.