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Author: Leslie W P Garland

Published: 2 December 2015
Reviewed: 18 September 2016

4 out of 5 stars
Copy supplied by the author in return for an honest review

 

Description:

Comprising four intriguing novella length contemporary stories, which contain mystery, a hint of the supernatural or paranormal, together with a passing nod towards philosophy and religion – though in these modern fairy or folk tales the fantastic doesn’t happen in some remote fantasy world, but right here in this one, in very ordinary, almost everyday circumstances!

The tales are:-

The Little Dog

And I saw an angel standing in the sun”

Is told by Bill, a retired forester, and takes the form of most of the stories in our lives, namely, that we have no idea that we are living a story until later when previous events suddenly seem to fall into place and make some kind of sense. Bill recounts a week in his early working life when, paired with an older, unsavoury and unpopular colleague, they find a little dog sitting beside the forest haul-road way out in a remote part of the forest. What is the little dog doing there? As the week progresses Bill finds himself becoming emotionally attached to it while also becoming increasingly concerned about just who is his objectionable workmate, and when he notices that the little dog is no longer present at its usual spot his concerns heighten, as he cannot help but feel that his workmate has something to do with the dog’s disappearance. Although a troubled Bill has a conversation with his local priest and learns of the nature of sin and evil, he remains blind to that which is right in front of him. However the very next day events suddenly take an unexpected turn and the young naive Bill starts to learn some awful truths.

A story of good and evil, and retribution.

The Crow

“Vanity of vanities, saith the preacher; all is vanity.”

This story, which centres on our almost desperate desire to leave something to mark our lives upon this earth, is told as a history recounted by Dave, of the time when he, as a child, was taken by his mother to a hospice where he met a dying and embittered old Irish priest known as Mad Father Patrick, who told him about the school days and subsequent rise of a local councillor, Reginald Monday, and of his (Monday’s) involvement in the construction of a dam which flooded a valley. Father Patrick’s increasingly mad tale is told with a blend of biblical quotations, philosophical musings and wild fantasy, but how does it end and just why is he so bitter?

A sad, poignant story of misunderstanding, bitterness and blame.

The Golden Tup

“But whom sent I to judge them?”

Can evil be in a place? The tale opens with Verity, a farmer’s wife, recalling how a young couple were arrested a few years previously for killing their new born baby. How could such a nice young couple have done such a dreadful thing? Through a series of flashbacks we learn how they had created their rural idyll, how an enigmatic man had come into their lives and how their idyll and relationship had gradually fallen apart – how, with references to Milton’s Paradise Lost, their paradise was lost. Gradually the young wife reveals a dreadful past, but Verity realises that she is holding something back, but what? What is the terrible truth that caused her and her husband to kill their baby?

A dreadful tale of a young couple’s paradise being cruelly taken from them by latent evil.

The White Hart

“Not everyone who is enlightened by an angel knows that he is enlightened by him.”

Told by a likeable male chauvinist, bachelor and keen fell-runner, Pete Montague recalls three strange incidents which he initially thought were unconnected. The first is his encounter with a little albino deer which he found in the forest when he was out for a jog. The second is that of a chance meeting with a beautiful, young but somewhat enigmatic girl in a remote chapel, and of their conversation in which she told him of the tragic story of the daughter of the family which built it. And the third incident ……

A happy ghost story, if there can be such a thing!

My Thoughts & Review:

This is an interesting collection of tales, novellas if you will that are similar thematically, each contains a mystery of sorts and has links to good and evil.  This was a step away from my usual crime thrillers or contemporary fiction,  but something I am very grateful for having had  the chance to read.

With beautiful descriptiveness in each story the reader is transported to the settings, whether it’s being able to envision the logging scenes in The Little Dog, or the forest in The White Hart.  The detail in these tales is truly wonderful, and really adds an authenticity to each one.
The dialogue used in the tales is also wonderful, I especially liked where a local dialect  was used and the author took a moment to add parenthesis, I felt that this added to my enjoyment of reading the tales, particularly where I felt that I had learned something new.  With detail about accents I felt I could hear the narrators voice, a very lovely touch.  However there were a couple of occasions where I did lose track of which voice I was hearing but I think that was perhaps more down to reader error than anything to do with the writing.

A very enchanting read, and very much a book to read as a break from day to day life.  Extremely well written, the stories are well thought out, an excellent cast of characters that are multidimensional and interesting – even the flawed characters are enticingly interesting!

The idea behind the tales being stories recounted by friends in the local pub is one that really appeals to me, reminds me of listening to family friends at a gathering or sitting listening to folk tales that my grandfather told me as a youngster.  The ease at which the writer recounts these tales makes for an enjoyable and captivating read.

You can buy a copy of The Red Grouse Tales here.

About the Author:
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Leslie Garland was born in 1949, qualified as a Chartered Civil Engineer and worked for several years on projects in the UK, the Far East and Africa. During this period he won the Institution of Civil Engineers “Miller Prize” for a paper on tunnelling. Changing times resulted in a change in direction and after qualifying as an Associate Member of both the British Institute of Professional Photography and the Royal Photographic Society he started his own stock photograph library and wrote for the trade press. An unexpected break in his Internet connection fortuitously presented the time to make a start on a long cherished project of a series of short stories, and the first two of “The Red Grouse Tales” were drafted. Two more have followed and he is now working on a second batch of tales. He lives with his wife in Northumberland.

More information is available on www.lesliegarland.co.uk 

I would recommend reading the “Inside Info” on the author’s website about each of the tales, it provides wonderful background as to his ideas behind each tale but also gives great food for thought.

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