by Richard Marsh, (c) 1898 – this edition: Valancourt Books trade paper, 2007 – short story collection

This is the 31st in my series of Friday Forgotten Books

This thin volume (155 pages) containing seven amusing short stories provides something completely different from the usual fare. Marsh was a writer of Victorian horror and humor, best known for his novel The Beetle: A Mystery. The Victorian fascination with the curious and unusual informs this set of stories as two men, sometimes friends, often at odds with each other, seek to add desirable items to their “collections” of ephemera and oddities.

Mr. Tress and Mr. Pugh are rivals and neither is above playing tricks, misinforming, lying or even outright theft in order to achieve their goal of having the better collection. Each considers the items the other owns as rubbish, while elevating, at least in his mind, his own items to the level of museum quality, to be admired by one and all.

The stories deal with a pipe which seems to come alive when smoked [“The Adventure of the Pipe”]; a recording which seemingly conveys a crime from beyond the grave [“The Adventure of the Phonograph”]; a fine piece of French furniture with doubtful ownership [“The Adventure of the Cabinet”]; a mysterious painting, mistakenly sold [“The Adventure of the Ikon”]; a box puzzle [The Adventure of the Puzzle”]; a haunted woman’s hand [“The Adventure of Lady Wishaw’s Hand”]; and the egg of a long vanished aquatic bird [“The Adventure of the Great Auk’s Egg”].

Each story is narrated by either Mr. Tress or Mr. Pugh alternating through the collection, and the viewpoint and opinions of the narrator are part of the humor and sometimes irony of the stories. Light, enjoyable, different. It’s nice to see Valancourt Books reprinting many of the works of Marsh.

~  ~  ~  ~

Series organizer Patti Abbott hosts more FFB reviews at her own blog, and posts a complete list of today’s participating blogs.

About Rick Robinson

Enjoying life in Portland, OR
This entry was posted in Friday Forgotten Book, reading, Review and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

11 Responses to Curios

  1. Bill Crider says:

    Never heard of this one. Sounds like fun.

  2. I haven’t heard of Richard Marsh, either. But, here’s what I ordered: Richard Marsh (d. 1915)
    The Beetle (1897)
    Both Sides of the Veil (1901)
    Curios (1898)
    The Datchet Diamonds (1898)
    The Goddess: A Demon (1900)
    The Joss: A Reversion (1901)
    Marvels and Mysteries (1900)
    Philip Bennion’s Death (1897)
    The Seen and the Unseen (1900)

  3. Richard says:

    Goodness, George! The one was sufficient for me, but you are the completist, aren’t you? Hope you enjoy them.

  4. Jerry House says:

    Marsh was a very popular author in his time. His novel The Beetle vied with Bram Stoker’s Dracula in popularity. Several of his stories were reprinted in the long-gone and much-missed Magazine of Horror. There must be something in the genes: Robert Aickmann, one of the most distinguished ghost story writers of the 20th century, was his grandson.

  5. Jeff Meyerson says:

    What a great choice! The only Marsh I know is THE BEETLE – I used to have a couple of British pb editions – but this sounds more up my alley.

  6. Carl V. says:

    This is my favorite yet of the books you’ve featured in this series. Victorian humor and horror…definitely favorites! And I love short stories. I just went and looked at my library system and they do not have it, but I requested it off of interlibrary loan through the Worldcat program, which usually works out just fine.

    Thanks for the recommendation, I’m looking forward to this one.

  7. Sounds good. Another for my list.(sigh). It never ends, though it’s an addiction I can live with.

  8. Richard says:

    Carl – I first heard of this from a post Fleur Fisher did on April 8, so we’re coming full circle, since I found her blog from yours.

  9. Carl V. says:

    How funny! It is a small world indeed.

  10. Evan Lewis says:

    Strangely intriguing.

  11. Richard says:

    Pretty lightweight, but enjoyable.

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