The Unbidden by R. Chetwynd-Hayes, containing the following stories: No One Lived There; Why Don’t You Wash? Said The Girl With œ100,000 And No Relatives; Don’t Go Up Them Stairs; The Gatecrasher; A Family Welcome; Crowning Glory; The Devilet; Come To Me My Flower; The Playmate; Pussy Cat – Pussy Cat; A Penny For A Pound; The Head Of The Firm; The Treasure Hunt; The Death Of Me; Tomorrow Is Judgement Day; and The House (Collected 1971):
The prolific English horror and science-fiction writer R. Chetwynd-Hayes (possibly the most English writer’s name of all time) came to professional writing fairly late, at about 40, but made up for lost time with fairly astounding productivity. His high point of fame probably came when a movie, The Monster Club, was adapted from several of his short stories.
I certainly wouldn’t argue that he was a great writer, or sometimes even a very good one, but many of his ideas are fascinating. He also brought a black sense of humour to many of his stories. The horrors tend to the supernatural, though not exclusively, and many of his stories are so droll as to leave horror altogether for the sort of dark whimsy that Roald Dahl specialized in when he wasn’t writing children’s novels.
This collection, the first for Chetwynd-Hayes, is an enjoyable and quick read. Some of the stories deliver ironic supernatural vengeance upon evil-doers (“Why Don’t You Wash? Said The Girl With œ100,000 And No Relatives”, “A Penny For A Pound”), some visit horror upon the innocent and unlucky (“Come To Me My Flower”, “Pussy Cat – Pussy Cat”, “The Playmate”), some play as weird comedy (“Don’t Go Up Them Stairs”, “The Head Of The Firm”), and the final story, “The House”, offers gentle fantasy rather than horror. Recommended.