Five Stories High: One House, Five Hauntings, Five Chilling Stories

Five Stories High: One House, Five Hauntings, Five Chilling Stories

One house, five hauntings, five chilling stories.Five Stories High is a collection of five novellas each set in the same house – Irongrove Lodge. This five storey Georgian mansion, once a grand detached property, has now been split into five apartments.  This is a building with history, the very bricks and grounds imbued with the pasts of those who have walked these corrid...

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Title:Five Stories High: One House, Five Hauntings, Five Chilling Stories
Author:Jonathan Oliver
Rating:
ISBN:1781083924
Edition Language:English
Format Type:Paperback
Number of Pages:320 pages

Five Stories High: One House, Five Hauntings, Five Chilling Stories Reviews

  • Irene
    Nov 13, 2016

    When is a wood louse not just a wood louse? The answer to that is in the first story "Maggots" by Nina Allan.

    A happy, family oriented young man, home visiting from college begins to suspect that his aunt is an imposter after she briefly goes missing and then reappears somehow changed. He is the only one who notices this difference. There was a delicious sense of foreboding that permeated this story from start to finish, made even more intense by the fact that I actually cared about this family

    When is a wood louse not just a wood louse? The answer to that is in the first story "Maggots" by Nina Allan.

    A happy, family oriented young man, home visiting from college begins to suspect that his aunt is an imposter after she briefly goes missing and then reappears somehow changed. He is the only one who notices this difference. There was a delicious sense of foreboding that permeated this story from start to finish, made even more intense by the fact that I actually cared about this family and was hoping things would turn out well for them. I would give this story 5 stars

    "Priest's Hole" by K.J. Parker is a story about a shape shifter who makes his living by becoming other people. It got off to a slow start, and did eventually pick up a bit but it just didn't grab my interest that well. Not to say it was a bad story, it was just not my type.

    "Gnaw" by Tade Thompson

    Harry and Tara move into the house with their 2 children Adrienne and Corey. The spooky happenings begin almost immediately, and it's not just the children who see and hear things that should not be there. This was one of my favorite stories in the book, again 5 stars from me.

    "The Best Story I Can Manage Under The Circumstances" by Robert Shearman

    I don't know what to say about this. It was like some kind of bizarro fiction. It begins with a very strange pregnancy and gets more weird from there.

    "Skin Deep" By Sarah Lotz

    This was a story of accused murderer Malika "the butcher" told from multiple points of view. When Malika and Robin meet they feel an instant connection. It doesn't matter to them that she is 20 years his senior or that he doesn't have a cent to his name. When they decide to move in together and he wants to live in Irongrove Lodge, Malika buys the apartment to make him happy even though she feels there is something off about it. If only she had trusted her gut!

    This was in my opinion the shining star of this book, the absolute best saved for last.

    I received an advance copy for review.

  • Trev Twinem
    Nov 03, 2016

    I am perplexed by this story and think that the content is almost too clever for the events that they purport to represent.

     

    Irongrove Lodge is a house of mystery and intrigue where five separate happenings or ghostly chilling stories unfold so says the blurb.......What actually unfolds is well nothing!! words and events happen and escalate past my eyes and mind with no particular order, sense or meaning. So frustrated did I become with the style of writing and the content that (for my own sanit

    I am perplexed by this story and think that the content is almost too clever for the events that they purport to represent.

     

    Irongrove Lodge is a house of mystery and intrigue where five separate happenings or ghostly chilling stories unfold so says the blurb.......What actually unfolds is well nothing!! words and events happen and escalate past my eyes and mind with no particular order, sense or meaning. So frustrated did I become with the style of writing and the content that (for my own sanity) I desisted from reading, just before the midpoint having attempted to digest (and failing) two of the novellas within the five.

     

    I find it even hard to explain what it was I had actually read? In the second of the two stories the narrator, a shapeshifter, ( a person or being with the ability to change their physical form at will) markets himself as in individual who, for a price,  will supply you the client with an alibi. In addition to this he "becomes" you by physically adopting your appearance and character. Centered around this unusual occupation are thoughts and observations on the narrator's wife (an artist of some repute who has deserted him) and his father, a mathematical genius and the author/originator of a calculus/mathematical solution which has greatly added to his credibility and fame (until an Indian professor disputes the theory) During these events our narrator purchases a suit of armour (don't ask me why) and finds solace and content within a small room in his flat at Irongrove Lodge....ah Irongrove Lodge....remember it was the subject of this collection of 5 novellas.

     

    Having requested this book from netgalley I was excited about the possibility of reading five separate ghostly adventures around the beautifully named, the historical and stately, Irongrove Lodge. What I read was a confusing literary mess with the actual Lodge playing a secondary role to the rambling and overfed egos of so called writers masquerading as horror authors! A reader must be honest and fair in his thoughts when reviewing, especially if he received that book free in return for an honest review.  His thoughts and words must be impartial and not be influenced as the recipient of a "gratis" copy. I rarely dismiss a book at the midway point, but on this occasion the text, form and content proved much too confusing and abstract for me to continue. A great disappointment and a book I do not recommend to anyone!

  • The Haunted Reading Room 2017 - Year of Lovecraft
    Nov 07, 2016

    Review: FIVE STORIES HIGH by Various Authors

    FIVE STORIES HIGH is a themed collection, stories from five authors, interwoven into a framework entitled "Notes from Irongrove Lodge." There exists on a fairly quiet street in London a large residence...or it doesn't exist. At times, it can be located by some few individuals; at other occasions, it can't be found. Sometimes its title is Irongrove Lodge, at other times Greystone Lodge. Sometimes it's a private residence, at other times an apartment bui

    Review: FIVE STORIES HIGH by Various Authors

    FIVE STORIES HIGH is a themed collection, stories from five authors, interwoven into a framework entitled "Notes from Irongrove Lodge." There exists on a fairly quiet street in London a large residence...or it doesn't exist. At times, it can be located by some few individuals; at other occasions, it can't be found. Sometimes its title is Irongrove Lodge, at other times Greystone Lodge. Sometimes it's a private residence, at other times an apartment building of five flats; sometimes a horrible asylum. It is also a building whose dimensions frequently change, and it is a passage to the void.

    One thing is for certain: the stories contained in FIVE STORIES HIGH will definitely boggle the mind.

  • Chris
    Dec 03, 2016

    One house, five stories, five hauntings, five terrifying novellas. I do love a good theme anthology, and this one has a dynamite setup: five novellas by five different authors, each one set on a different story of the mysterious Irongrove Lodge. This is, of course, a haunted house on a quiet London street, a place that straddles the line between our calm, quiet reality and the unspeakable madness of a darker, nefarious world.

    Nina Allan’s story “Maggots” starts the collection off right; it follow

    One house, five stories, five hauntings, five terrifying novellas. I do love a good theme anthology, and this one has a dynamite setup: five novellas by five different authors, each one set on a different story of the mysterious Irongrove Lodge. This is, of course, a haunted house on a quiet London street, a place that straddles the line between our calm, quiet reality and the unspeakable madness of a darker, nefarious world.

    Nina Allan’s story “Maggots” starts the collection off right; it follows a young man home from college, spending time with his close-knit family. He begins to suspect something is wrong with his aunt; she disappeared briefly while on holiday in another town, and she hasn’t seemed or acted right ever since. He’s the only one who thinks anything is amiss, and decides he’s the only person capable of finding the reason his aunt has changed. What he finds is Irongrove Lodge, and the secrets held by its first-floor resident that might break his mind. Allan methodically builds tension and grim unease, draws you into the mind of this young man, connects you to his family, and ends up hitting you with a belt of cosmic horror and plot twist in ways that weren’t ever expected. I found this novella downright chilling, and it was one of my favorite stories in this volume.

    Next up is K.J. Parker’s “Priest’s Hole,” about the resident on the second floor of Irongrove Lodge. He’s a shapeshifter who can become someone else in body and blood, just for a little while. He survives doing odd-jobs using this skill—giving someone an alibi, appearing as a deceased relative or idol. He hates these jobs, and is haunted by them almost as much as his checkered past: the disappearance of his wife and her paintings, or the failure of his mathematician father whose Nobel-winning theorem was refuted a few years later. Then on one job, he’s stabbed and almost killed—but by who, and why? Parker’s writing is quite good, and I kept going on the strength of that writing alone, but I have to say that I found the story ponderous as it just did not grab me; it seemed trapped in the protagonist’s internalized struggles, cloaked in a surreal haze, jumping back and forth between past and present… it felt more like a fever dream.

    Tade Thompson’s entry, “Gnaw,” follows a young couple and their two children moving into the third story of Irongrove Lodge. Harry Newton has sunk all of his savings into this beautiful Georgian home, hoping to give his wife Tara a taste of the wealthy life she grew up with. But Tara feels an eerie presence in this place. Bizarre messages, phantom noises, and odd occurrences start to add up. It’s the children who first see the things—the spirits that lurk within the house’s darkness. And they have a gnawing, ravenous hunger. “Gnaw” started out as a haunted house/ghost tale reminiscent of American Horror Story, with great characterization and some intense atmosphere. It only got better when the story’s layers and twists were revealed. This excellent tale picks up the pace compared to the two previous stories, and I was hooked until its gripping finale.

    Robert Shearman has written “The Best Story I Can Manage Under The Circumstances,” and it’s a hard story to review—definitely the weirdest and boldest of the novellas, somewhere on the borderline between metafictional horror and bizarro fiction. It starts off with an almost fairytale opening about a loving couple who give birth to a head; on its first birthday, the head meets a woman who gives birth to a torso, and sometime later, another woman gives birth to its arms and legs. We leave this composite thing to follow a young boy who always seems to find doorways on his bedroom walls, possibly an escape from his parents’ failing marriage. all of which lead him to the monstrous composite creature from earlier. The weirdness level progresses from there. Let’s just say this wasn’t my cuppa tea.

    The last story, “Skin Deep” by Sarah Lotz, may very well be a case of saving the best for last. Accused murderer Malika has been nicknamed “The Butcher” from the horrific wounds inflicted on her boyfriend Robin. What sells the story is the way it’s told—it’s written like a series of interviews, cycling between the listing agent, the interior designer, the clean-up guy, various best friends, a member of the jury, all of whom frame the story and foreshadow its details before we get the killer’s view of what happened: she claims it’s ghosts—that the oppressive Irongrove Lodge did it, by driving Robin insane. Heck, before you even know what’s going on, people are referring to her as The Butcher and letting their opinions flow. That leads to a very memorable and effective story, aided by solid writing, excellent atmosphere, and an intriguing mystery.

    Of the stories, three were standouts—Lotz, Allan, and Thompson were my favorites, in roughly that order. I enjoyed Parker’s story but wasn’t grabbed but it—I think it suffers from having same slow, methodical pacing as Allan’s story which preceded it. Shearman’s was a bit too weird for me, and I have the feeling that will be the case for a lot of other readers, though others will read it and discover that they love bizarro horror. (Obvious disclaimer that not everyone likes every story in an anthology due to personal preference goes here.) I think Five Stories High is worth reading on the strengths of “Maggots,” “Gnaw,” and “Skin Deep” alone, as those are three fantastic stories by authors I’m keen to read again.

    (

    .)

  • Jay
    Nov 10, 2016

    Five Stories High edited by Jonathan Oliver was received direct from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. A horror anthology with authors I have not heard of. To me this is exciting as the modern horror era seems to shy away from unknown authors AND many of the known authors are way past their prime and should not be getting published. Now back to this book that's central theme is a house. As I read this book, which was a painful process in that nothing ever seemed to happen though I

    Five Stories High edited by Jonathan Oliver was received direct from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. A horror anthology with authors I have not heard of. To me this is exciting as the modern horror era seems to shy away from unknown authors AND many of the known authors are way past their prime and should not be getting published. Now back to this book that's central theme is a house. As I read this book, which was a painful process in that nothing ever seemed to happen though I kept hoping "next page it will pick up." It took until the third story until it barely started picking up, but not that much. By the 4th and then the 5th story it picked up a Little more each time. Overall it was a slow book and not a horror book at all.

    3 stars

  • Mariana
    Jan 23, 2017

    I DNF this book (read 46%). I know it might be unfair to the other authors in this anthology, but the first two stories weren't enjoyable, I was actually getting bored and desperate. I was expecting to find classic haunted house and ghost tales, but instead found something like weird, speculative fantasy. Definetely not what I was hoping for.

    I am that kind of person that never puts down a book, no matter how much I'm disliking it. However, one of my reading resolutions for 2017 is to stop doing

    I DNF this book (read 46%). I know it might be unfair to the other authors in this anthology, but the first two stories weren't enjoyable, I was actually getting bored and desperate. I was expecting to find classic haunted house and ghost tales, but instead found something like weird, speculative fantasy. Definetely not what I was hoping for.

    I am that kind of person that never puts down a book, no matter how much I'm disliking it. However, one of my reading resolutions for 2017 is to stop doing that. There are so many great books waiting for you to discover out there, that spending time reading something you're not enjoying at all seems pointless.

  • Sheila
    Dec 15, 2016

    2 stars: Meh.

    Two things bugged me about this book. First, I expected horror stories, and the majority of these are more in the weird/dark fantasy/speculative category, not horror. Which is fine, but I adore haunted house stories, and that's what I wanted. (The book's descriptive copy mentions both "ghosts" and "terrifying," but that's not what it delivers.)

    Second, the stories seemed to throw in a mention of the house, rather than being ABOUT the house. It felt like the authors wrote the story t

    2 stars: Meh.

    Two things bugged me about this book. First, I expected horror stories, and the majority of these are more in the weird/dark fantasy/speculative category, not horror. Which is fine, but I adore haunted house stories, and that's what I wanted. (The book's descriptive copy mentions both "ghosts" and "terrifying," but that's not what it delivers.)

    Second, the stories seemed to throw in a mention of the house, rather than being ABOUT the house. It felt like the authors wrote the story they wanted to write, and then just mentioned off-hand that the events occurred in Irongrove Lodge, rather than writing about the Lodge itself. Does that make sense?

    I'd give this one star, but I did very much enjoy Sarah Lotz's story, the last in this collection (it alone gets 4 stars from me). She wrote about the house itself, and in a very chilling way, and I always enjoy her multi-narrator format.

    I received this review copy from the publisher on NetGalley. Thanks for the opportunity to read and review; I appreciate it!

  • Gayle
    Jan 04, 2017

    MY THOUGHTS

    The book brings the reader five eerie and haunting tales all with the same setting, a five story Georgian mansion. This mansion used to be a grand place but through time it has started to deteriorate. It has been converted into five apartments. Many have come and gone during the duration of this grand ole' mansion. The past have stayed when the occupants have left. The reader gets five haunting tales from five authors in a mansion with five floors and five apartments. Could the number

    MY THOUGHTS

    The book brings the reader five eerie and haunting tales all with the same setting, a five story Georgian mansion. This mansion used to be a grand place but through time it has started to deteriorate. It has been converted into five apartments. Many have come and gone during the duration of this grand ole' mansion. The past have stayed when the occupants have left. The reader gets five haunting tales from five authors in a mansion with five floors and five apartments. Could the number five have a meaning? You get Maggots by Nina Allan, Priest's Hole by KJ Parker, Gnaw by Take Thompson, The Best story I Can Manage Under The Circumstances by Robert Shearman and Skin Deep by Sarah Lotz. You also get notes on Irongrove Lodge. The author gives you a line between reality and the unknown, light and darkness, calm and fear. There are twists and turns on each story of the mansion and in each apartment. Each occupant has his or her own deep dark past and present, each have their own hauntings and each story of the mansion has it's own story. All are strange encounters of the occupants and all will make the reader sit on the edge of his seat. We all love horror to a certain degree and according to your personal taste for the level of horror, the authors give level for everyone. Some will love, some will not, but all are worth reading. The method of writing is a bit different than most so it took me a little while to get used to it but once I did, I started to enjoy. I especially liked the Notes On Irongrove Lodge, giving background and specifics on the grand ole' mansion. Was the mansion a place for punishment? Where some came and never left, some left and never were seen again. The occupants never spoke of what happened or what was seen in the mansion. To the outsiders it was just an ole' run down mansion where some were just drawn into the land of insanity. The authors give you the feeling that maybe Irongrove Lodge existed in the minds of those who entered the open doors. Irongrove Lodge is supposed to be there but it seems to be out of the reach of one hand. You are also left with the feeling that after the fifth floor, the stairs continue even though there are only five stories. What is above the fifth floor and where does it lead? These authors have given some terrifying stories of five occupants, five stories, five apartments, and five levels (possibly more, it's all in your mind). The mind can play tricks and in this book, it does. What a combined group of stories for the reader who loves that line between reality and the other side. I would recommend this book to anyone who loves that line. You will get the suspense, the thrill, the unknown and so much more. Decide for yourself, if Irongrove Lodge really exists or is it a state of mind?

    I received a complimentary copy of this book from the authors and Night Owl Reviews and voluntarily decided to review it.

  • Leah Bayer
    Jan 17, 2017

    4.5 stars

    This year, I'm trying to stop all of the impulse-reading I do. Sticking only to my owned but not read/tbr books. Because usually impulse reads are shit (see:

    ). But this... this was an amazing impulse read. When I read the synopsis I knew it was basically meant for me. 5 novellas by 5 authors about a house reminiscent of

    ? Yes please.

    I really loved this book. It's a representation of the best that modern weird fiction can do. There's a sense of unease tha

    4.5 stars

    This year, I'm trying to stop all of the impulse-reading I do. Sticking only to my owned but not read/tbr books. Because usually impulse reads are shit (see:

    ). But this... this was an amazing impulse read. When I read the synopsis I knew it was basically meant for me. 5 novellas by 5 authors about a house reminiscent of

    ? Yes please.

    I really loved this book. It's a representation of the best that modern weird fiction can do. There's a sense of unease that isn't just from the individual stories: it's truly the cohesive whole that makes this great. Because the stories don't all fit together. They all take place in Irongrove Lodge, yes, but the timelines and layout of the house directly contradict each other. Yet we have in-between sections cataloguing the history of the house and our narrator assures us they are all true. Somehow, this house is in different places and different times in different shapes. As I said, very

    !

    Not all of the stories worked for me, which is the only reason this didn't get 5 stars. I am absolutely obsessed with 3 of them ("Maggots," "Gnaw," & "Skin Deep"), and I enjoyed the bizarro-style "The Best Story I Could Manage Under The Circumstances." But I felt like "Priest's Hole" wasn't as strong either thematically or writing-wise to stand up to the other 4. It was honestly pretty forgettable, while the other stories are so memorable (though in different ways). But really, that's my only complaint! And "Priest's Hole" isn't a bad story by any means, it's just not

    on the level of the others.

  • Seregil of Rhiminee
    Jan 20, 2017

    Originally published at

    .

    Five Stories High (edited by Jonathan Oliver) is an excellent literary horror story anthology. It's a themed anthology containing five novellas set in the same house, Irongrove Lodge, where all kinds of strange and unexpected things happen to people who live there or merely come for a brief visit.

    In this anthology, all of the authors - Nina Allan, J.K. Parker, Tade Thompson, Robert Shearman and Sarah Lotz - do their best to captivate and thrill readers with a

    Originally published at

    .

    Five Stories High (edited by Jonathan Oliver) is an excellent literary horror story anthology. It's a themed anthology containing five novellas set in the same house, Irongrove Lodge, where all kinds of strange and unexpected things happen to people who live there or merely come for a brief visit.

    In this anthology, all of the authors - Nina Allan, J.K. Parker, Tade Thompson, Robert Shearman and Sarah Lotz - do their best to captivate and thrill readers with atmospheric, original and extremely well written stories that have a strong focus on creepiness and unsettling atmosphere. They aim to entertain and terrify their readers and they succeed in it, because when you pick up this book and begin to read it, you'll be hooked by the stories.

    If you come to this anthology expecting to find cheap thrills, I'm sorry to disappoint you by saying that you won't find anything like that here. Instead, you'll find plenty of quality and lots of old-fashioned creepiness. This is an anthology that has an emphasis on atmospheric storytelling and literary prose. It stands out among other similar kind of anthologies by having much more depth and substance than them.

    I consider Five Stories High to be one of the absolute highlights of the past year. It's a fascinatingly old-fashioned yet modern horror story anthology with fascinating stories which prove that when you have enough imagination you can write stories about weird and haunted houses in a memorable and original way. The stories, although classic in nature, have a sharp modern edge to them.

    This anthology contains the following stories:

    - Maggots by Nina Allan

    - Priest's Hole by K.J. Parker

    - Gnaw by Tade Thompson

    - The Best Story I Can Manage Under the Circumstances by Robert Shearman

    - Skin Deep by Sarah Lotz

    Each of these stories can be read as a standalone story, but the linking texts (Notes on Irongrove Lodge by the editor Jonathan Oliver) connect them. They provide a strong backbone to the stories and emphasise the overall strange atmosphere.

    Although the authors have distinct voices of their own, their voices fit well together. Their different writing styles bring freshness to this anthology.

    Here's more information and my thoughts about the stories:

    Maggots by Nina Allan:

    - Ah, what a pleasure it was to read this story! I loved the author's engaging writing style and her way of writing about the happenings, because everything about this story felt spellbinding and it had a fascinatingly unsettling atmosphere. I was impressed by the nuanced characterisation, because the protagonist had an interesting life and a bit different kind of problems.

    - In this story, Will is a bit frightened and unnerved by his noticing of how his Aunty Claire has suddenly become a different person. Aunty Claire appears to be normal, but there's something about her that is not quite right. Soon Will finds out that he may suffer from a physiological disorder, which affects his way of thinking about Aunty Claire, but he doesn't fully believe in it. As time goes by he begins to research things and soon he hears about Greystone Lodge...

    - The author writes excellently about Will's relationship with his Aunty Claire. It was interesting to read about how Will noticed that her Aunty Claire had changed after she went missing for a while during a trip to York and was not the same person anymore. This had a huge effect on Will's life, because he began to think of all kinds of things and found out about a well-kept secret.

    - A beautifully written story with a chilling touch of cosmic horror and strangeness.

    Priest's Hole by K.J. Parker:

    - This is a story about a genuine and professional shapeshifter who can change his blood group, DNA and appearance. There are certain limits to his abilities, but he can do almost anything. He has an agent who gets him jobs and sends him details of each job. One day he agrees to do a well-paying alibi job, but it goes terribly wrong, because a man tries to kill him...

    - I liked the author's way of writing about the shapeshifter and his life, because he wrote captivatingly about several things ranging from the shapeshifter's private life to his work. It was also interesting to read about the agent and how she behaved.

    - This story has a satisfyingly slow pace, because the author doesn't rush with things and lets things develop at their own pace.

    - An excellent and very atmospheric story with a touch of noir and urban fantasy.

    Gnaw by Tade Thompson:

    - In this story, Harry and Tara move into a new house with their children, Adrienne and Cory. One day when Tara goes to the shopping centre, she notices that her son has written something strange and malignant in a book which he brought with him. A bit later Cory is accused of writing more vile things. This is, however, only the beginning of a chain of strange events...

    - It was fascinating to read about what kind of a past Harry had and how it affected his marriage to Tara, because he had spent time in prison for something that he hadn't done. I also enjoyed reading about what the children experienced and how they felt about things.

    - The author explores the familiar theme of haunting in a surprisingly entertaining and original way. I found this story to be excellent because of the gradually deepening atmosphere.

    - A wonderfully entertaining and well written ghost story that has a feel of classic ghost fiction to it.

    The Best Story I Can Manage Under the Circumstances by Robert Shearman:

    - This mesmerising story begins with a bizarre fairy tale kind of a chapter and then transforms into something else in the next chapter. I think it's fair to say that this is the strangest story in this anthology, because it changes as it begins to unfold, but doesn't lose its freshness and originality.

    - In my opinion, the author has managed to reach a satisfying level of strangeness here and has created something unique, because it's been a while since I've read this kind of horror fiction. I enjoyed everything about this story, because I found it excellent.

    - I won't write about what happens in this story in fear of revealing too many spoilers, but I'll mention that what happens between the boy and the man who tells him stories is truly interesting and also a bit unsettling. These scenes were simply brilliant.

    - A fascinatingly written strange story that will be of interest to everyone who loves weird tales.

    Skin Deep by Sarah Lotz:

    - The previous story had quite an interesting structure, but this story has an even more unusual structure due to the author's way of telling the story through various monologues. The author has come up with a story that consists of several sections in which different people tell what has happened and how they feel about it.

    - Skin Deep is a story about events leading up to a crime and its aftermath. It feels a bit like a blend of strange fiction, noir fiction and mystery fiction, because the author delivers her readers a strong vision of a relationship between an older woman and a younger man (Malika and Robin) and tells what happens to them.

    - I enjoyed reading about the relationship between Malika and Robin, because the author wrote well about how it began to change when they moved into the flat and Robin wanted to renovate it.

    - A well written account of a shocking crime.

    Maggots by Nina Allan has all the signs of intelligent storytelling that I expect to find in literary speculative fiction. It's a satisfying and thought-provoking slice of real life that has gone a bit awry. I think it's only fair to say that Maggots is the strongest story in this anthology and one of the author's best stories, because she explores such themes as identity and isolation in a realistic yet uncanny way. I was positively surprised to find elements of eldritch cosmic horror in this story, because the author has a her own kind of powerful vision of cosmic horror. (By the way, if you're a newcomer to Nina Allan's stories, this story is an excellent entry point to her fiction.)

    The Best Story I Can Manage Under the Circumstances by Robert Shearman is also a story that I find deeply satisfying and rewarding. It has everything one could ever hope to find in a strange story and more. Gnaw by Tade Thompson made a huge impression on me, because the author's vision of a ghost story felt original. Priest's Hole by K.J. Parker and Skin Deep by Sarah Lotz are also fantastic stories, because they're something a bit different.

    Each of the stories has an excellent atmosphere, because the authors seem adept at creating a creeping atmosphere and maintaining it throughout their stories. Because I've always loved good old-fashioned horror fiction and ghost stories that have plenty of creepiness, I found these stories compelling - there was just the right amount of classic creepy feel to them.

    Irongrove Lodge is a perfect setting for these unsettling stories, because it's an old five storey Georgian mansion, which has been split into five apartments. This kind of old mansions intrigue me in horror fiction, because they allow authors to explore history, past happenings, hauntings, manifestations, mental health and fear in an atmospheric way. In this anthology, the authors reveal interesting things about Irongrove Lodge and its past, because they tell what kind of a place it is to the characters and how they feel about what they experience there. Each of the characters has their own specific feel about Irongrove Lodge - they may see weird things, they may get a feeling that there's something slightly wrong about it or it changes them.

    The stories in this anthology are akin to classic weird tales that rely on terrifying readers with creepiness instead of action. If you're like me and enjoy reading stories which develop gradually and in which authors slowly build up atmosphere towards the end you'll find this anthology thoroughly enjoyable. When I read these stories, I noticed that they contained echoes of such authors as Robert Aickman, Joel Lane and M.R. James.

    Before I write the final words of this review, I'll mention that this anthology left me wanting more. I was so taken by the stories that I would've liked to read more about Irongrove Lodge and what happens to people there.

    Five Stories High is a dark, excellent and atmospheric horror story anthology that fully satisfies the needs of readers who are interested in literary horror stories and enjoy slow-burning quiet horror that creeps up on them. I'm sure that many horror readers will find a lot to love in this anthology, because it contains quality stories that differ from mainstream horror stories.

    Highly recommended!