Updated: Jan 17
*For Welsh, see language toggle switch on top of webpage*
(suggested) interest age: 10+
*depends on child - not everyone likes ghost stories
(suggested) reading age: 12+
Genre: #shortstory #fiction #horror #ghosts
Illustrations: Nest Llwyd Owen
You might want to watch out as you pass the bookstore – the bony green hands and the soulless black eyes will stare into your very soul, forcing you to pick up and buy a copy of Sgrech y Cregiau…
When I was teaching, making time for a story at the end of the day was crucial. I don’t think we’re doing enough of it to be honest. And no, I’m not talking about comprehension questions and all that, just putting your head down and listening to a good story.
Something I enjoyed with my class of year 5&6s was reciting horror stories at the end of the day. In the portakabins we inhabited at the time, we’d draw the blinds to create maximum creepy atmosphere – perfect for sharing those ghostly tales.
The problem was, there was a shortage of 'off the shelf' Welsh books with short horror stories, and there are only so many times you can rely on Lleuad yn Ola by T Llew Jones! The fact of the matter was, we needed a new horror book in Welsh. When I saw on Twitter that this book was on its way, I was very happy. No more real-time translating English spooky stories for me… not for awhile anyway.
Sleeping with the light on
Although there’s no contents page to suggest this, Sgrech y Creigiau is a book of short stories, and following much research, Elidir Jones has reimagined some of the old Welsh legends that may have become forgotten. These stories, enough to send shivers down your spine, are further strengthened by the nightmarish pictures by Nest Llwyd Owen. I can still see that old woman's gaunt face with her ugly white eye in my sleep! You'll probably need a nightlight afterwards (nah, only kidding, but it’s enough to give you goose pimples!)
Don't go into the water...
Personally, I think horror stories work better in the form of short stories, which reflect how we used to share ghost stories in front of the campfire or on a sleeepover. I've heard several ghost stories in my time, and some of these have stayed with me for a long time afterwards.
Out of all the stories in the book, I think the first, "Y Naid Olaf" was the one that gave me the biggest creeps. I think it reminded me of the bit in the lake at the end of What Lies Beneath.
I'm looking forward to the opportunity to share this book with a poor classroom audience next time there's time for a story. A well-timed and piercing SCREAM in just the right place (after the line "something grabbed his leg") will surely do the trick!
Reading under the duvet
I think most people (especially children) like to be scared from time to time, otherwise horror films and that sort of thing wouldn’t be so popular. I still remember mam telling me a story about the ghost of Plas Mawr, Conwy, when I was younger. That story really creeped me out, and to this day, I still walk past the building in quite a hurry, especially at night time.
Most people find otherworldly, supernatural and disturbing things extremely entertaining, and whilst I LOVE this book, I recognize that this one won't be for everyone.
Will you be brave enough to give these seven nightmarish stories a try? Well, if you are planning on sneaking off to read this book under the sheets, you’d better remember your torch!