Philosophy don at TCD; author of as The Dark Companion: Ghost Stories
(Dublin: Lilliput Press 2001), 224pp.
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Jon Barnes, review of The Dark Companion: Ghost Stories (Dublin: Lilliput
Press 2002), in Times Literary Supplement, 29 March 2002, p.22.
Sees Gaskin as adopting the formula of M. R. James which eschew[s]
the visceral, pulpy approach of Poe or Lovecraft in favour of a
protagonist who is invariably a scholar, often elderly, who through curiosity
and intellectual pride tampers with dark forces and emerges - if he survives
at all - chastened and with a new awareness of his own mortality.
Barnes finds the prose crisp and readable though occasionally
overreaching in pursuit of apt metaphor ( tree roots grope out of
the ground like arthritic bones); entertaining and undemanding;
the best stories genuinely unsettling; remarks that the period seems confused
in the title story where, for instance, Victorian Oxford is carefully
invoked while references to Private Eye and computers place it in the
twentieth century. Barnes considers the best of these stories to be genuinely
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