Tag Archives: Paul Finch

Christmas Spirits from Paul Finch

In a Deep, Dark December
Paul Finch
ebook, $1.49

I’ve always enjoyed Paul Finch’s work, but somehow I missed this collection when it came out a few years ago.  And while the afternoon of Christmas Eve may be a tad late for some of you to enjoy these stories, you should keep it in mind for next year.

In a Deep, Dark December contains four short stories and one novella.  I took a detailed look at the novella, “The Killing Ground”, a few years ago.  You can read the review here. I’m not going to rehash what I said.  I did reread the story, and it held up quite well.  Instead I’ll discuss the other stories.
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A Review of “The Blood Month” by Paul Finch

medievil12Medi-Evil Book 1
Paul Finch
Brentwood Press
ebook $2.99 Kindle
B&N doesn’t show a listing of the book, even though I bought my copy through them.

So yesterday Paul McNamee posted about a short story by Paul Finch, “Damned Ranker.”   I’ve got the anthology it appeared in (somewhere) but haven’t read it.  I intended to, but ended up reading something else by Finch.  In the conversation Paul and I had in his comments, he mentioned he’d like to see more historical fiction by him.

Which brought me to Darker Ages.  It’s a small hardcover collection of two historical fantasy novellas, published in 2004 by Sarob Press.  It’s long out of print.  I don’t recall where I picked my copy up, but I know it was an intentional purchase.  I’d read After Shocks, Finch’s first collection of ghost stories from Ash-Tree Press.  (I reviewed a story from his second collection.)

Darker Ages looked especially intriguing, and I’m not sure why I didn’t read it when I bought it, but for some reason I didn’t.  The book ended up on a shelf out of the way.  I decided to read the first story, “The Blood Month”, which has since been reprinted in Medi-Evil Book 1.

This is a viking story with a surprising depth to it.  It opens with King Olaf Haraldsson’s defeat at the Battle of Stiklestad.  Finch does a great job describing the battle.  His descriptions of combat reminded me a little of Robert E. Howard’s. Continue reading

Long Looks at Short Fiction: The Killing Ground by Paul Finch

The Killing Ground
by Paul Finch
collected in Ghost Realm
Ash-Tree Press,
hardcover, 247 pg., 2008, Cndn $49/ US $49/ L28

When I was in second or third grade, I don’t recall which, I checked out a volume from the school library called A Book of Ghosts and Goblins by, so the internet tells me, Ruth Manning-Sanders.  The internet also tells me it was a collection of folktales from around the world.  I don’t remember that part of it, nor do I remember many particulars about most of the stories.  This was, after all, about [CENSORED] years ago.  I remember a few things.  There was one where a little girl got lost or something and ended up in a castle with a talking skull.  The skull had her fix a pancake for supper.  When the girl cut the pancake in half, the skull’s half turned black.  I don’t remember what else happened, but that scene made an indelible impression on me.

The other story I remember, and I remember it quite well to this day, was the final story, “The Leg of Gold.”  You’ve probably heard or read at least one version of it.  The wife of a rich man trips on the stairs, falls, and breaks her leg so badly it needs to be amputated.  He replaces it with a leg of gold.  Some time passes, and once again she trips (on the hem of her dress, as I recall) and falls, this time breaking her neck.  Her husband has her buried with the leg, but the valet sneaks back to the graveyard and steals it.  Or something to that effect.  Anyway, this is where the action takes place.  The wife starts calling out from the grave day and night for her leg of gold.  The husband goes to the grave to console her, telling her she was buried with it.  She ignores him (probably just like she did in life) and continues to call for the leg.  Finally, the husband gets tired of hearing her calling day and night, night and day, and sends the valet, who by this time is on the verge of a nervous breakdown, to the grave to find out what she wants.  When he asks, she cries, “It is you that I want,” rises up from the grave, and drags him back down with her where she devours him.

That story scared the living crap out of me.  I woke up in the middle of the night every night for the next seven nights, terrified that there were ghosts in the room.  I know it was seven nights, because I counted them. I was afraid I would never get another peaceful night’s sleep.  There was a whole series of books by this author, and I remember the library having some of them.  I don’t recall if I read any of the others, though.  Probably learned my lesson with this one.  On the other hand, knowing me, naah, probably not.  I think I checked out at least one other book in the series, although I didn’t have as extreme a reaction to the contents. Continue reading