Fear by Roald Dahl


Today I have a review of Fear by Roald Dahl, the last of four new centenary collections published on 10th August by Penguin Books. I have read and reviewed these collections over the last week, sharing my thoughts on Innocence, War and Trickery. In Fear, Dahl explores the stories that have the power to scare us, in a collection of tales filled with terror and suspense.

Fear is a little different from the previous collections in that this is a collection of stories collated by Roald Dahl as opposed to his own writing. It features an introduction from Dahl which made for fascinating reading and piqued my interest in the stories ahead. In it he describes his process in selecting the stories that would form this collection and the criteria on which he identifies those stories that succeed in being scary. I was interested to read of his own difficulties in writing ghost stories, and his admiration of writers who are able to create that feeling of tension and unease that makes them so effective. With this in mind I was eager to read his selections…

The book comprises of fourteen stories from twelve authors. They cover a variety of different settings and themes but what they all have in common is the ability to make the ready feel ill at ease, building up suspense and the anticipation that there may be something sinister lurking round the corner. Of these stories I have picked out the three which I most enjoyed:

Harry by Rosemary Timperley – In this story narrated by a parent, we discover what happens when a little girl becomes more and more obsessed with her imaginary companion. Most people dismiss the girl’s behaviour as normal childlike fantasy, just a show of the girl’s imagination – but is it?

The Corner Shop by Cynthia Asquith – In this story we meet a man who makes a purchase from a charming corner shop which ends up being worth far more than he thought. And whilst feeling guilty over his acquisition, there is a feeling of unease as he discovers that the shop and those who run it may not be as they seem.

On the Brighton Road by Richard Middleton – One of the shorter stories in the collection, and one that made for a particularly eerie read. It features a homeless man and a boy, and their walk together along the road which ends in a troubling declaration…

Fear took me a little longer to read than the previous three collections, perhaps due to the fact that I don’t generally read ghost stories. That said I found these stories enjoyable and as they made me feel uneasy I can see why they were selected and why they may be considered classic examples of the genre.

Fear was published on 10th August 2017 by Penguin and is one of eight centenary editions exploring the darker side of human nature. Many thanks to Sam Deacon at Penguin for providing copies for review.

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