REVIEW: “The Dead Daughter: A Tale” by Henry Glassford Bell

Review of Henry Glassford Bell, “The Dead Daughter: A Tale”, in Minor Hauntings: Chilling Tales of Spectral Youth, edited by Jen Baker (British Library, 2021): 13-23 — Order here. Reviewed by Sara L. Uckelman. (Read the review of the anthology).

Baker chose this story as the one to kick off the collection because it is “one of the first literary sources in English to utilise the ghostly revenant child as the source of terror and grief” (p. 13).

This isn’t the only distinct characteristic of the story. It is also told in beautiful prose that is extremely effective at evoking all required emotions, not just terror and horror. In the opening when we are introduce to Adolphus Walstein and his young daughter Paulina, it only takes Bell a few paragraphs to draw the reader into deep sadness with the awareness that Paulina will eventually die — the outrageous sadness that a child should ever not outlive their parent. The rest of the story capitalizes on this sadness, and turns it to horror with brilliant deftness. An absolutely smashing story, would easily fit into any 21st C horror canon.

(Originally published in The Edinburgh Literary Journal, 1831.)

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