The Tale of the Tailor and the Three Dead Kings: A Medieval Ghost Story by Dan Jones
One winter, in the dark days of King Richard II, a tailor was riding home on the road from Gilling to Ampleforth. It was dank, wet and gloomy; he couldn’t wait to get home and sit in front of a blazing fire.
Then, out of nowhere, the tailor is knocked off his horse by a raven, who then transforms into a hideous dog, his mouth writhing with its own innards. The dog issues the tailor with a warning: he must go to a priest and ask for absolution and return to the road, or else there will be consequences…
First recorded in the early fifteenth century by an unknown monk, The Tale of the Tailor and the Three Dead Kings was transcribed from the Latin by the great medievalist M.R. James in 1922. Building on that tradition, now bestselling historian Dan Jones retells this medieval ghost story in crisp and creepy prose.
The days are getting shorter, and we are in the season for ghost stories and there is nothing better I enjoy at this time of year then a creepy old ghost story and bestselling historian Dan Jones has just released the perfect ghostly story. The Tale of the Tailor and the Three Dead Kings (Head of Zeus) that dates to the 1400’s and written in Latin by a Monk from Byland Abbey in Yorkshire and discovered by Montague Rhodes James during the 1920’s. This is just one of the stories that was discovered and now Dan Jones has brought the story life.
This story follows a tailor called Snowball who is from Ampleforth and he is riding home after a days work when he things start to get a little creepy and is attacked first by a raven but then it transforms into something more creepy and sinister. This it transpires is a deceased member of the community that is not a rest due to his sins he committed during his life and now wants Snowball to seek out absolution from a priest and bring it back that will allow him eternal rest.
But there is a warning to Snowball that somewhere along this road there are two more spirits that haunt the road and if he fails to return to this very spot on the road with the absolution then there will be consequences for him from the two spirits.
What I loved is how the language brings this spooky tale to life and you can just imagine the quiet road a tired tailor riding his horse home and then creepy things start to happen around him.
There is an introduction by Dan Jones at the beginning including a look at Byland Abbey and there is also the Latin version of the story. Which I found to be a great addition to the story.
If you are a fan of the old spooky tales, then I cannot recommend The Tale of the Tailor and the Three Dead Kings. Perfect for a dark autumn evening and being read via candlelight.
My thanks to Head of Zeus for the NetGalley review copy of The Tale of the Tailor and the Three Dead Kings: A Medieval Ghost Story by Dan Jones. Published by Head of Zeus on the 14th October 2021 and is now available through Waterstones, Amazon and through your local independent bookshop or through Bookshop.org that supports your local independent bookshop. UK Bookshop.org