Dr Marvelry has had his Curiosity Shop on Binghampton’s Antique Row since the 1990’s. However, today’s markets and pressure from bigger stores that can so easily undercut him in his costume wears and party items force him to expand his horizons. Consequently, he invests in his interest in magic and the unusual, hoping to entice reluctant customers into the depths of his store. In the first tale in this collection, The Victor Talking Machine, a male couple purchase an old gramophone player. They then find the Frank Sinatra disc that comes with it is occasionally accompanied by the screams of desperate and dying men.
In Echo’s Reflection Echo and her partner are on the lookout for a bathroom mirror when perchance they stroll into Marvelry’s store, where they notice, among other things, ‘a skeleton key fashioned out of real bone, a cuckoo clock with a black cat that yowled the hours in place of the bird, and a toy guillotine’. In my mind that alone should have set alarm bells ringing, and I would have been out of there like a flash. However, they persevere and Marvelry soon finds exactly the mirror they want – much to their later regret, as you can imagine.
My favourite story has to be The Painter’s Premonition. In this tale a slightly sozzled painter finds his way to the premises by accident, and asks directions to the bar he was intending to visit. While talking to Marvelry he spots an old easel which holds a painting with an abstract take on Goya’s Witches’ Sabbath; during the discussion he’s given a set of handmade squirrel-hair brushes. I’ll leave you to imagine the worst.
I feel many who enjoyed the thriller-type TV series of the seventies and eighties, plus Stephen King’s wonderful novel Needful Things, will enjoy this collection of tales.