I recently re-read The Woman in Black by Susan Hill. It’s a brilliant story, cleverly delivered in a voice that could have easily been M R James or one of the other Masters. I’m waiting for the new film version to come out in February and hoping it does it justice.
But it did remind me of just how big an influence those short stories of the late 19th and early 20th centuries were on me. One story I often mention at events is The Clock by WF Harvey.
Written in 1928, The Clock is a superb example of why I love stories set in a less technical age. The whole story hinges on clockwork. The fact that a clock has wound down when it shouldn’t have. I love the way Harvey leaves so much to our imaginations. We never know what it is the heroine has encountered, we never see it, we only hear it. It is so creepy because we are left to fill in the gaps and we can all scare ourselves more easily than anyone else can.