Local history books have always been a great source of folklore and Fortean material and it is always a pleasure to delve into one which concentrates on the weirder aspects of certain locales. A fine addition to the canon is Mysteries of Portsmouth by Matt Wingett.
Covering the area of Portsmouth, an island city on the south coast of England, we are of course treated to sea monsters and maritime tales but there is a wealth of other oddities that have come to haunt the lore of Pompey (as the city is affectionately known) so within its splendidly illustrated pages, Wingett treats us to UFOS, Egyptian curses, spiritualists & fortune-tellers, witches and many ghosts as well as other diverse oddities.
There is a much data covered verbatim from old newspapers which is culturally interesting to see how strange phenomenon was covered by local press in bygone times and the book will be of interest to local historians and other people from the area as well as visitors, folklorists, Forteans and other curiosity-seekers from further afield.
A thoroughly interesting, well researched and nicely presented addition to the British folklore shelves.
Available now from here – https://www.lifeisamazing.co.uk/product/mysteries-of-portsmouth-by-matt-wingett
Also available from Amazon and other booksellers
Read an Interview with the author here
The Snow Witch by Matt Wingett will be available as a free kindle download from Saturday 17th February – Wednesday 21st February. This story of obsession, loss, murder and magic has been getting great reviews on Amazon and on Folk Horror Revival and is highly recommended as a great read.
You can download it here, available for 5 days only for free, from 17th February –
The Snow Witch is both a haunted and haunting book. Though not a ghost story as such, it is swarming with ghosts – the ghosts of the past, the ghosts of winter, breath ghosts. From the bleak frosty shore to the black, black sea, Wingett tells the tale of a lonely, insular refugee from the east of Europe who finds herself in the cold season days of a British seaside town. There she encounters strange kindness but also becomes the victim of a harrowing experience.
The tale is infused with humanity at its rawest, its nastiness but also its generosity. Like a favourite author of mine – Ray Bradbury, Wingett skilfully paints a scene in words with painterly strokes; in my mind when reading I could see the twinkling of the model village lights in the darkness of the drawn in evenings and feel the bite of frost upon my fingers. I found myself immersed with the events playing out in my mind like images upon a cinema screen; for me that is the mark of a skilled writer. Also adept and engaging are the characterisations of the figures prevelant in the narrative – from the enigmatic otherworldliness of Donzita, the enduring grief of Celia, the shy awkwardness of Eddy, the wilful desperation of Vee and the low, selfish cruelty of Riley.
At times The Snow Witch is raw, unafraid to confront the unkindness of life but it also shines the beacon of hope and illuminates magic and maintains its air of cold, ethereal beauty throughout.
The Snow Witch is available to pre-order from here and here
Review by Andy Paciorek