Edward Gorey’s first book in 25 years, The Haunted Tea-Cosy is a classic work from that magnificently morbid master. The plot of this “dispirited and distasteful diversion for Christmas” revolves around one Edmund Gravel, an Edwardian Scrooge whose attempt to slice a stale fruitcake unleashes an assortment of guilt-inducing ghosts. There’s the Spectre of Christmas That Never Was, who directs our hero’s attention to a cowering orphan in a graveyard (along with some other, lower-key bits of pathos: “In the high street of the village Reverend Flannel lost his tuning-fork.”) The Spectre of Christmas That Isn’t also chips in with a kidnapping, a domestic dispute, and a return to the aforementioned graveyard: “To the south, in the cemetery a wrong coffin in a newly dug grave was found to contain rolls of used wallpaper.” Like the Dickensian miser upon whom he’s based, Gravel is transformed by this ghoulish guided tour. He renounces his life of solitude and invites all of Lower Spigot to a party, featuring “a cake taller than anything else in the room, a conflation of Chartres Cathedral and the Stupa at Borobudur iced in dazzling white sugar” (not pictured, alas). Gorey’s illustrations for The Haunted Tea-Cosy are looser and less elaborately cross-hatched than some of his earlier creations. But like the text, these oddly stilted and very Anglophiliac scenes remain a model of delicious, deadpan hilarity. –James Marcus
The Haunted Tea-Cosy – Edward Gorey 1997 1st Edition
Harcourt Brace & Company, 1997
The Haunted Tea-Cosy: A Dispirited and Distasteful Diversion for Christmas by Edward Gorey. Fine in NF jacket with a slight fading to the spine.