Caledonia Dreamin – Strange Fiction of Scottish Descent

By Hal Duncan

Rating: 3 stars

I sort of wish I’d liked this more than I did. It’s a short story collection, some genre, some not, all themed around Scots words. The idea for the collection is great, but I just failed to get on with many of the stories themselves. Several were horror stories, which I’m just not a fan of, and many just left me scratching my head. The most memorable story for me was probably the very horrific (in many senses of the word) Maw which left me feeling icky and really needing mind-bleach. My favourite story was the somewhat more whimsical Fallen Through a Giant’s Eyes about a miner who’s tunnelling, searching for his lost love.

A book that take a vaguely similar theme (that of Scottish writers, or people associated with Scotland) that I enjoyed much more was Nova Scotia: New Scottish Speculative Fiction from a few years ago. That had its moments of darkness, but was more balanced than this book. I think a good word to describe this collection is possibly dreich. There was very little cheer amongst the gloom. There are those who might say that this reflects the Scottish character and landscape, but this is unfair. Scotland is a wonderful country full of warm and welcoming people. It’s a shame that that’s not reflected in this collection.

Book details

ISBN: 9781908125309
Publisher: Eibonvale Press
Year of publication: 2013

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