Saturday 2 March 2019



In this striking collection of noir short stories Welsh writer Math Bird gives us tales of the haunted and the lost.

Set in the borderlands of northeast Wales, among a landscape of forests and hills, small coastal towns, and the Dee estuary, these are the stories of lonely boys and grief stricken men, ill-fated lovers, tough women, distant fathers and disillusioned sons. Many of them hell-bent on revenge, battling with both the present and the past.

Bird writes about men and women and the social and geographical borders they cross. Throughout these tales runs the influence of place, and how the land and its ghosts can redeem us.

Seven short stories here from Math Bird and a cracking collection which I really enjoyed.

Histories of the Dead..... dark deeds, secrets, guilt, obligation, a corrupting influence, action

All the Hungry Ghosts...... a life full of regrets, marital abuse, an ageing gangster, an intervention, a death of a rival's relative, a consequence, no happy endings.

This Land of the Strange..... a love affair with the right (wrong) woman - wrong in the eyes of her husband, right in the feelings they share for each other, a punishment, a return home, a manhunt, pursuit and death,

The Darkness and the Light....... an eye for an eye, the runt of the litter sacrificed

The Devilfish..... an old woman, full of memories and spirit and dementia, a daughter and her husband, a boat trip

Your Father's Son...... a debt to be collected, someone ends up paying

Billy Star..... friction in the family, a feckless uncle with charisma, a chip on his shoulder, a big stock of blarney and a penchant for annoying people

Small town dramas, ageing villains, disaffected youth, bullies, cowards, unhappy marriages, secrets, regrets, death, drama, thwarted ambition, mistakes, and a lot more besides including a touch of the supernatural.

Favourite of the bunch - Histories of the Dead, followed by The Darkness and the Light. Nothing I didn't enjoy in the seven.

I'm looking forward to tucking in to Bird's Welcome to Holyhell sometime soon.

4.5 from 5

Read in February, 2019
Published - 2016
Page count - 138
Source - purchased copy
Format - paperback


  1. I'm already sold on the setting, Col. And the stories do sound very good. I'm glad you enjoyed them as much as you did.

    1. Thanks Margot. You could do worse than give this one a go!

  2. I could definitely go for this.

    Welcome to Holyhell

    Great title!

    1. Definitely, I'm wondering if it's a riff on Holyhead? I hope to find out in the next month.

  3. I definitely like the sound of this short story book. And I look forward to you reading Welcome to Holyhell and letting us know how you like it.

    1. Cheers. It's on the schedule for the next month or so. I'm looking forward to it.