The Coffin-Maker’s Daughter

All posts tagged The Coffin-Maker’s Daughter

Short Stories Challenge – The Coffin-Maker’s Daughter by Angela Slatter from the collection A Book Of Horrors

Published December 4, 2014 by bibliobeth


What’s The Coffin-Maker’s Daughter all about?:

The Coffin-Maker’s Daughter tells the story of a young woman who carries on the family business (of making coffins of course!) after her father’s death. However, she is unable to escape a ghostly presence and influence…

What did I think?:

Before reading this story, I have to admit that I hadn’t heard of Angela Slatter or her short fiction. Fortunately, this is now not the case and on the strength of this story I have invested in her collection Sourdough And Other Stories which was also recommended to me by my fellow blogger FictionFan. The story opens on a young woman, Hepsibah Ballantyne, visiting a client whose father had recently passed away. Hepsibah is a partner in the family business of making coffins – although Hepsibah notes that as her father never had a son to assist him, instead of naming the company BALLANTYNE & DAUGHTER, he has officiously decided on the charming BALLANTYNE & OTHER. Hepsibah’s father has also recently passed away (or so she hoped) but worst luck for her is that she has to endure his ghostly presence looming over her constantly and suffer endless barbs and criticisms, much as she had to when he was alive. There is one consolidation however, at least now she no longer has to undergo the physical abuse he afflicted on her:

“Nowadays his fists pass through me, causing nothing more than a sense of cold ebbing in my veins. I do not miss the bruises.”

The reader can perhaps see where this is going when her client, the daughter of the dead man, opens the door. Our coffin-maker is almost dumbstruck at the beauty of the wealthy Lucette D’Aguillar and is in awe of her presence, even attempting to hide her hands which unhappily take a bit of a bashing during the process of making a coffin. Hepsibah enters the house and gives them some advice on their mourning procedure, for example covering the mirror in order that the deceased may not enter it and watch over them. In return, she promises them the finest coffin their money can buy, indeed a work of art rather than a corpse holder, with assurances that as long as they have kept the body wrapped there is no change of the deceased walking again. Of course it’s necessary to have not one but three golden locks, he must be kept IN, no expense spared!

These are two very clever young women, and they seem to both have a agenda on their hands which I don’t want to ruin for anybody reading this story for the first time. The author does a brilliant job of gripping the reader for the whole length of the tale although my personal opinion of the characters seemed to shift backwards and forwards quite rapidly! Apart from the father of course, who seems to be the epitome of everything that is rotten and wrong with the world. His continued presence in his daughter’s life makes it pure misery and throws more than one iron into the fire, so as to speak. There are quite a lot of unanswered questions, sure, and the ending seemed to turn everything completely around but it definitely left me craving more and imagining possible scenarios after the final sentence, which is the sign of a good short story and a talented author. I can’t wait to read more from Angela Slatter and hope to incorporate some more of her work into my reviews as soon as I can.

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):


NEXT SHORT STORY: The Call of Cthulhu by H.P. Lovecraft from the collection The Definitive H.P. Lovecraft



Challenge: Short Stories October to December

Published October 9, 2014 by bibliobeth

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It’s that time again short story fans! This is what I’ll be reading short story wise from now until the end of 2014.

Week beginning 6th October

 Looking Up Vagina by Jon McGregor from the collection This Isn’t The Sort Of Thing That Happens To Someone Like You

Week beginning 13th October

The Pool by Daphne Du Maurier from the collection The Breaking Point

Week beginning 20th October

Partial Eclipse by Graham Joyce from the collection Tales For A Dark Evening

Week beginning 27th October

The Fly And Its Effect Upon Mr Bodley by Michel Faber from the collection The Apple: New Crimson Petal Stories

Week beginning 3rd November

Busted by Karin Slaughter (stand-alone)

Week beginning 10th November

Nocturne by Kazuo Ishiguro from the collection Nocturnes: Five Stories Of Music And Nightfall

Week beginning 17th November

The Coffin-Maker’s Daughter by Angela Slatter from the collection A Book Of Horrors

Week beginning 24th November

The Call of Cthulhu by H.P. Lovecraft from the collection The Definitive H.P. Lovecraft

Week beginning 1st December

The Common Enemy by Natasha Cooper from the collection The Mammoth Book Of Best British Crime Volume 7

Week beginning 8th December

Note To Sixth-Grade Self by Julie Orringer from the collection How To Breathe Underwater

Week beginning 15th December

A Terribly Strange Bed by Wilkie Collins from the collection Stories To Get You Through The Night

Week beginning 22nd December

Mrs Todd’s Shortcut by Stephen King from the collection Skeleton Crew

Week beginning 29th December

Everything I Knew About My Family On My Mother’s Side by Nathan Englander from the collection What We Talk About When We Talk About Anne Frank