Friday, 19 July 2013

Nostalgic for my childhood - The Restless Bones

Reading has played an important part in my life for as long as I can remember and when I was at Junior school, we had a thing called The Bookworm Club.  It must have been a nationwide organisation (I vaguely remember a catalogue, though I can’t find any info about it on the Net) but what happened at Rothwell Juniors was that a stall was set up in the hall and you went in and bought any books that took your fancy (there was also something with collecting vouchers and saving them on a card).  I enjoyed it because it was aimed towards me (bookshops in those days weren’t, particularly, kid friendly), I could pick what I wanted and they had some great titles to choose from.

I have several books I want to discuss and I will do so over the coming weeks (though the thought of quite how I’m going to condense my love - and the history - of The Three Investigators into a single post is slowly and quietly driving me insane).  Each one will be included because, in their own way, they shaded not only my future reading habits but also my future writing habits and they often have fantastic covers.

“The Restless Bones & Other True Mysteries”, edited by Peter Haining, is a slim Armada paperback that has no copyright/publishers information in it at all, though I believe it was published in 1978.  The cover was painted by Alun Hood, whilst the interior illustrations were the work of Ellis Nadler.

(left - "The Restless Bones" are disovered - right - "The Thing From Outer Space")

Peter Haining (1940-2007) was a journalist, author and anthologist from Suffolk, who was Editorial Director at New English Library before becoming a full-time writer in the early 70s.  He edited a large number of anthologies, predominantly of horror and fantasy short stories and wrote non-fiction books on a variety of topics, sometimes using the pen names ‘Ric Alexander’ and ‘Richard Peyton’ for crime anthologies.  He won the British Fantasy Society Karl Edward Wagner Award in 2001.

“The Restless Bones” contains ten stories:
The Restless Bones, The Winged Monster of the Desert, The Terror Of The Dragon, The Mystery of the Loup-Garou, Old Roger’s Vengeance, The Witch’s Familiars, The Call of Darke’s Drum, The Trail of the Devil’s Fooprints, The Thing From Outer Space and The Voice In The Graveyward.  “I have drawn on the large file of material I have collected over the years about events and experiences which are fantastic - but factual” is Haining’s comment on their origins, as he writes in his introduction.

The killer story for me was “The Voice in the Graveyard”, wherein teenaged Richard, in 1964 Wisconsin, accepts a challenge to spend the night in a graveyard, all on his own.  As I write this, on a sunny afternoon in July 2013, far removed from the nine-year-old me reading it over the 1978 summer holidays, I can still remember the frisson of fear that ran through me when Richard hears a whispering voice plead, “…help us…

Well presented, with a good range of mysteries, this kept my attention well and steered me further into the path of horror and the supernatural (the devil's footprints being backed up by Arthur C. Clarke, of course).

I'm also proud to say that this 35 year old book still stands on my bookshelf - it looks a little beaten up around the edges, but it's holdings its own.

Thanks to Ben at Breakfast In The Ruins for some of the images, plus Wikipedia for the basis of the Haining biography


  1. We had a bookclub called CHIPS! I used to buy one or two things (so much cheaper than the shops), but my favourites were the surprise free books. I got to read about Scherezade that way. And I loved My Best Fiend by Sheila Lavell, I think it was.