But as Jack researches the Famine, he soon finds himself face-to-face with people who seem to have stepped whole and starving from that horrible era: a ragged man unconscious in the mud on the side of the road, vomiting green rot; a young girl who was only bone covered in skin in tattered clothes; tortured shapes milling through the cold fog and damp air and mud surrounding his cottage. He puts this all to his readings, an overworked imagination, but still dreams of facing his own corpse. Soon he meets Father Malcolm Henning, the local priest and seanachie, a sort of historian and storyteller in one. Father Henning wields a gentle hand over Doolin, both in church and in the pub: the two most popular places for these provincial people.
Whispers, Shadows, and Year's Best Horror; I've liked all the ones I've read). It'll also make you lament that Ryan didn't write another novel. It's much more effective than his previous work, 1983's Dead White, and evinces a cozy fireside feel one finds in the classic tales of the weird and uncanny. There are creeps and chills to be sure, but the real power lies in the setting and the characters. And I have to say there's a lovemaking scene - that's truly what it is, I can't phrase it any other way - that is about the best I've ever read in a horror novel.