Tales Through the Steekit Mist. Produced by Windhouse Productions at £9.99.
Anderson High School enterprise group Windhouse Productions came together with the idea to promote local tradition. By compiling nine Shetland ghost stories, the group felt they were bringing some of Shetland’s tales to a new audience.
Doing research at the archives and through discussions with storyteller Elma Johnson the stories in the book are virtually unchanged by the group, in order to preserve the tradition of handing down tales.
The Story of Windhouse is the first tale in the book. Steeped in rumours, it was a great choice to open with. The history of the house and the Spence family’s woes with the unexplained occurrences of “violent eruptions” around the building are thrilling indeed, and the cliff hanger ending is very atmospheric.
Another stand-out tale is the Story of Busta, again another weel-kent tale, but this encapsulates more of the spooky and sinister elements, with Lady Busta’s wish to see her son dead at her feet than marry servant Barbara Pitcairn, become a reality.
Among the weel-kent there are also stories and characters from Shetland’s history that may be less well known to many, Black Eric from South Mainland lore was a new one on me as was the vision of Jack Dempster, a Fetlar man who met with the spirit of a man he had watched being buried three weeks before.
Special mention must go to Peter Tomlinson from Bell’s Brae Primary School whose story, The Secret Bunker earned a place in the book as part of Windhouse Production’s competition to promote English skills in primary school. Here’s hoping his spooky tale will be told in generations to come too.
Tales Through the Steekit Mist is a great little read and will appeal to children and adults alike. There are helpful footnotes which accompany most of the tales (even if one or two of them are not strictly correct). It is available from various outlets.