Friday, January 13, 2012

Story of the Week: Her Long Hair Shining

If you like historical mysteries about the people history has forgotten, you should read Simon Kewin's "Her Long Hair Shining" at Abyss & Apex. Kewin has penned a ghost story that is poignant and tragic. It's not scary, but it certainly has plenty of creepy imagery. Consider the opening paragraphs:

Water ran down the walls, staining the stonework in triangles of green like a child’s drawing of a Christmas tree. Smith had to step around pools of water on the floor. The place hadn’t been used for years. Decades. Smashed windows let the wind and rain inside. It was colder inside, somehow, than it was out on the streets. The air tasted damp. 
It was, he thought, a lonely place for a ghost to live.

That image of a child's drawing washing away sets the tone of loss that pervades the story. Every character has lost someone.

Smith is wandering through an abandoned textile mill on a mission to save a ghost. That's what he spends his time doing, rescuing ghosts, giving them some closure so they can fade away peacefully. He receives assistance from Tom, whom we later learn is the ghost of Smith's son who died in an automobile accident that may have been Smith's fault. Once they find a ghost, Smith and Tom attempt to gain its trust so they can learn something about it, such as its name or the circumstances of its death. Kewin's ghosts are shy and skittish. Armed with a few scraps of data, Smith heads to the library to track down accounts of the ghost's death and the fate of its survivors: children, spouses, fiances. The ghosts Smith encounters are trapped, struggling to find someone who is no longer there.

The ghost in the mill is a teenager named Sally, a beautiful girl with bright and shining golden hair. She died in a horrible accident at the mill, a victim of its machinery. Her beau was going to ask her to marry him that day. She was to wait for him outside the factory. It appears to be a standard case for Smith and Tom, but Sally proves to be something special.

Kewin's prose is vivid, punctuated with details that bring the dead to life.

A circle of breath bloomed on the inside of the mirror with each word, only to evaporate away immediately. He could see nothing of her save for a quarter of her face, a tangle of golden hair and the corner of her mouth, hidden behind the patches of tarnished silver.

Kewin tells a sad story in "Her Long Hair Shining" with a surprisingly happy ending, all the while avoiding any lapse into sentimentality.

For more about Simon Kewin and his writing, visit his blog at


  1. Jeff,

    I am eternally grateful for your review. A wonderful surprise. And I'm delighted you enjoyed the story.

  2. You're welcome, Simon. It was a very intriguing tale.

  3. I enjoyed this tale -- and your review of it, Jeff! I agree with you on the ending. Good stuff, all around.