OHCT Trustee Nicola Coldstream enjoys “Ten Cathedral Ghosts” by renowned scholar Nicholas Orme

Nicola Coldstream reviews this  novel which focuses on the cathedral of Acester, it is very funny, full of good jokes and beautifully written. Hurry while stocks last !

Nicholas Orme is Emeritus Professor of Medieval History at the University of Exeter and the author of many books, including Going to Church in the Middle Ages, which I recently reviewed for this website. He also writes fiction. Here he presents ten tales of ghosts in and around the cathedral of Acester, placing himself as the narrator and introducing a diverting set of cathedral staff headed by the Dean and the Chancellor, Canon Caliver, who graciously wrote the foreword. Some of the ghosts are less benign than others, but none will prevent you from climbing the dark stairs in an empty house or losing any sleep. The author is a fine scholar and widely read, weaving in references to poetry and prose that hover behind some of the plots: his ghosts live in different centuries, and not all are human, as the staff of the cathedral refectory discover in the story of the Limping Imp.

The characters are very well drawn, almost, but not quite, recognisable, as is the cathedral itself. Professor Orme knows his architecture and he knows cathedrals, and one of the delights of the book is his ability to convey the beauty and wonder of Acester Cathedral without describing it in detail. Because he is so familiar with medieval buildings he does not need to labour any point while taking his reader around them: there are no irritating references to ‘soaring Gothic’ or any other architectural clichés. Similarly, in his persona as narrator he makes his characters do a lot of research, and does some himself, all the while conveying to the reader what it is and how to do it.


Ten Cathedral Ghosts by Nicholas Orme (Brown Dog Books, 2022)

ISBN 978-1-83952-546-9. £8.95

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