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Flowers of the Sea
Thirteen Stories and Two Novellas
Introduction by Michael Dirda
This sixth collection of ‘strange stories’ by Reggie Oliver follows the award winning Mrs Midnight (2011). Oliver’s variety of subject matter, wit, characterisation and stylistic elegance are on display, as is his gift for telling a good story.
The rivalry between two former MI5 members in a seaside town escalates into something deeply sinister and mysterious. . . . The one-time assistant to a musical genius is dying in early nineteenth-century Vienna and cannot escape his obsession with their last collaboration. . . . In Weimar Germany a mass murderer is awaiting his execution with perplexing eagerness. . . .
There are two novellas in this collection. ‘Lord of the Fleas’ is a study of a sinister eighteenth-century architect, told through various documents, including an unpublished fragment of Boswell’s Life of Dr Johnson, and a series of increasingly desperate letters from a young woman to her cousin in the style of the epistolary novels of Fanny Burney. The other novella, ‘A Child’s Problem’, inspired by a painting in the Tate Gallery by Richard Dadd, was nominated for ‘best novella’ in the Shirley Jackson Awards of 2012.
Reggie Oliver is an English playwright, biographer and writer of ghost stories. His work has appeared in a number of anthologies, including the Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror and The Mammoth Book of Best New Horror.
Flowers of the Sea contains: ‘Introduction’ by Michael Dirda, ‘A Child’s Problem’, ‘Striding Edge’, ‘Hand to Mouth’, ‘Singing Blood’, ‘Flowers of the Sea’, ‘Lord of the Fleas’, ‘Didman’s Corner’, ‘The Posthumous Messiah’, ‘Charm’, ‘Between Four Yews’, ‘The Spooks of Shellborough’, ‘Süssmayr’s Requiem’, ‘Come Into My Parlour’, ‘Lightning’, ‘Waving to the Boats’, ‘Author’s Note’.
'Oliver's skill at wringing horror from both likely and unlikely materials makes this a book bursting with well-wrought surprises.' Starred review at Publishers Weekly
'When reviewing one of his collections, I'm often running out of adjectives to properly describe how excellent are most of the tales included therein. The current volume, assembling thirteen stories and two novellas, is no exception.' Mario Guslandi, SF Site
"Oliver's latest includes all the treats you want; novellas, illustrations by the author, short stories, the strange, characters that are impeccably created, great book production values; this is what reading is all about. If you've ever wondered why I seem so enthusiastic about Tartarus and Oliver, this collection can act as the perfect example." Rick Kleffel, The Agony Column
"Reggie Oliver’s stories all share a striking narrative graciousness. Open any of his collections—Mrs Midnight, Madder Mysteries, Masques of Satan, The Complete Symphonies of Adolf Hitler, The Dreams of Cardinal Vittorini—and read the first paragraph or two of one of his ‘strange stories’. Almost immediately the spell is cast." Michael Dirda, from the Introduction to Flowers of the Sea
"Reggie Oliver, quite possibly our finest modern writer of spectral tales." Ramsey Campbell
An interview with Reggie Oliver can be viewed here:
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