Full Title: Heavy Weather: Tempestuous Tales of Stranger Climes edited by Kevan Manwaring
The collection entitled British Library Tales of the Weird sounds like it should have criteria of how it is organised and written. So far, we have seen short introductions about the author, the work and where it was published first before each tale and, though they can get in the way of the excitement for a good story, they are often very informative and well-written. Here we see the editor move away from that and either go straight into the story, have a short and uninspiring introduction to it or even put some rambling mess at the end which is also not very well written. It breaks the continuity of the series and more than often, breaks the feeling you are getting from reading the book. This plus the fact that the stories are not exactly Tales of the Weird makes this one of the worst edited books I have read in the anthology so far. Let's stop with the negativity for a second to look at the good stories that were provided within.
The entry History of a Six Weeks Tour (Extract) by Mary Shelley was particularly good because honestly, I would read anything by Mary Shelley. Her stories have great descriptions but my only worry with this extract is that if you were going to choose an extract from Mary Shelley's work about heavy weather then why avoid the scene where the lightning hits the tree in Frankenstein or even The Letters of Robert Walton which include incredible, if not more, weird climates alongside tension. This diary entry was amazing to read but the issue here is that there was nothing too weird about it, there was no tension because everyone and their pet dog knows that Mary Shelley makes it across the sea. I could have also done without the rambling mess by the editor at the end.
Everyone who is reading this has obviously heard of, if not already read The Birds by Daphne Du Maurier and that is probably the second story I liked in this anthology. This is possibly one of the only ones that fit in with the whole tense, horrific and weird theme rather than focusing on the author's own sense of achievement by being able to bore the reader to death with afterthoughts. I am always impressed by the writing of Daphne Du Maurier and her work The Birds is one that I have read multiple times in the past and was quite happy to see again.
A Descent into the Maelstrom by Edgar Allan Poe was a good addition but if you were going to add in things about strange climates then I would have thought the poem The Raven would have given more hope to that even if it is more well-known, there is something far more eerie and horrifying in the atmosphere of that poem that the Maelstrom that is described here. I just did not get the same feeling of abject terror that I do from reading Edgar Allan Poe and I blame that partially on the editor's ability to take you completely out of the feeling of the book with his babbling at the end of the stories.
Yes it may not have been directly anything weird or scary and the picks in this book are either a little out there for the theme or they are simply okay - but the one thing that did annoy me apart from the messy ramblings at the end of each story was the fact that the editor made no attempt to grasp continuity within the theme. Without the title, I do not believe anyone would have guessed that the theme was strange climes, instead I think that maybe this anthology was better off linked to something more straightforward such as the scientific ideas about weather - but then to delete The Birds would be criminal as it is the only good thing about the anthology.
All in all, I think that this anthology needed a better editor. He really did not do a good job with this by taking away the continuity and writing weird boring stuff at the end of each story. We would have been better with that one-page introduction at the beginning to get us involved with the reading and then to simply get on with it.