A chilling medieval ghost story, retold by bestselling historian Dan Jones.
One winter, in the dark days of King Richard II, a tailor was riding home on the road from Gilling to Ampleforth. It was dank, wet and gloomy; he couldn’t wait to get home and sit in front of a blazing fire.
Then, out of nowhere, the tailor is knocked off his horse by a raven, who then transforms into a hideous dog, his mouth writhing with its own innards. The dog issues the tailor with a warning: he must go to a priest and ask for absolution and return to the road, or else there will be consequences…
First recorded in the early fifteenth century by an unknown monk, The Tale of the Tailor and the Three Dead Kings was transcribed from the Latin by the great medievalist M.R. James in 1922. Building on that tradition, now bestselling historian Dan Jones retells this medieval ghost story in crisp and creepy prose.
This is book of two halves – the Tale itself and the fascinating background to it and the research that has bought it back to life again. I really enjoyed both parts of it, the background information helped breath even more life into the Tale to give us the way to view it through our modern eyes. It made it feel much more real, and helped with evoking the correct atmosphere.
The book itself is gorgeous too, it’s a tiny hardback that is adorable and the cover is a beautiful embossed naked hardback. Its adorable but also captures the nature of the story.
The Tale itself is fairly short so don’t go in to this expecting an epic tale, it is however well crafted and told. I was thoroughly gripped by it and read the whole book in one sitting. I won’t say too much about it as it is a short story and I don’t want to spoil any of it but if you have a love of spooky stories or have a fascination for historical stories I thoroughly recommend picking this one up – it would also make a great stocking filler if you are starting to think that far ahead!
With thanks to Head of Zeus books for sending me a copy in exchange for honest review.
The Tale of the Tailor and the Three Dead Kings is available now.