Posted in Short Stories

M. R. James: The Ash-Tree

It is known to most of us that a cat can cry; but few of us have heard, I hope, such a yell as came out of the trunk of the great ash.

I’ve established numerous times on this blog that I think a reader can see something coming a mile away and a great writer will make the reader still want to go there. In the course of all these M. R. James stories, I’ve also established that I think he is a great writer. In his story “The Ash-Tree”, we get a terrifying tale of witch trials and revenge from the grave. Then, two generations later, we see what’s going to happen (again). But it’s just as terrifying -and satisfying- as previously.

Perhaps it’s beneficial that after the repeated events, we get a fiery ending that is even more terrifying – and helpfully ties together the separate generations.

4 thoughts on “M. R. James: The Ash-Tree

  1. “The Ash-Tree” was one of the first M. R. James stories I read, back when I was under the impression that he was just a ghost story writer. I ain’t gonna lie, the climax left me a little traumatized.

  2. Possible my favorite of MRJ’s stories. I’ve read it several times over the years. I think it may have introduced me to bibliomancy too. 🙂

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