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Mad Monkton

This is the first story I’ve read by English writer Wilkie Collins (18241889), and it’s a very good ghostly Victorian tale, with eerie settings, creepy characters and murky themes, from madness to a rotting body, dueling foes, dank crypts, decrepit churches, a storm-struck ship, and lost love. The plot wanders as if on a meandering trail in a dark forest, adding elements of mystery and suspense along the way.

Collins was part of Dickens’ circle in the 1850s. The pair became friends and were known to prowl the dodgy districts of London together. Collins’ scrupulous prose in “Mad Monkton” and the pace at which the story unfolds brought Dickens to mind. Apparently they had significant literary influence on each other.

In this collection I read only the title story, which is about fifty or sixty pages. I’ll get to the others at some point but, in keeping with the spirit of the Halloween season, I’ve resolved to read a bunch of ghost (short) stories with the dual goal of checking out some writers I’ve not read before or not for a while. Elizabeth Gaskell’s next on my list.


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