This Mortal Coil
Cynthia Asquith
Solar Press (March 2024)
Reviewed by Mario Guslandi

Originally published in 1947 by the legendary Arkham House, the present collection includes nine weird and macabre stories penned by Lady Cynthia Asquith ( 1887-1960), a British author and anthologist especially devoted to ghostly and supernatural tales.

Writing in an elegant yet straightforward style, Asquith captures the reader’s attention from the very first paragraphs and is able to hold it until the last sentence.

Not all the stories in the volume are quite memorable, but most of them are truly excellent.

“In a Nutshell” is a superb, vivid tale where a widow, whose husband died of a heart attack, has to deal with a son affected by the same disease and experience a similar tragedy.

“The White Moth” is a rather complex story finally disclosing the  real, unexpected source of a very successful book of poems.

“The Playfellow,” a vivid gothic piece of supernatural horror, takes place in a mansion where in the past other horrors occurred.

Set in a medical context, “The Nurse Never Told” describes in a tense, very effective way the dark premonitions of a patient bound to undergo surgery, whose fate is set by a mocking destiny.

“The Lovely Voice” is a kind of crime story revolving around the murder of an unremarkable lady.

Asquith is never boring nor banal, and her stories are well worth reading also today by any lover of good, entertaining dark fiction.