2 of 5 stars.
A bleak Scottish countryside castle is a near perfect setting for a Victorian ghost story. Why what is clearly a ghost appearing as either a human shade or small mist-like emanation is called a beast is less clear, even in the retelling.
The tale itself introduces a different sort of spirit delving into Elizabethan alchemy implying a spirit adrift from time as much as anything else.
Unfortunately, the story is filtered through a series of characters. The narrator was never at the castle. He attended a dinner party for one who was. The host of the dinner party relates what the laird of the castle had related to have been his experience . . . The distance from the immediacy of the tale lessens it.
A nice touch is the use of Scottish dialect, Elizabethan expressions [in written form], and an accurate depiction of Victorian stodgy mannerisms.
This tale appears in Weird Detectives: Recent Investigations edited by Paula Guran.
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