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The eight stories in this beguiling first collection are full of apprehension and mysteries whose solutions often dangle just out of reach of the characters. In "The Rain," a single woman's holiday visit to a small town turns nightmarish when the locals turn on her for some obscure violation of their customs. "Chanctonbury Ring" tells of an archeologist who encounters at the site of two ancient Roman temples a teenage girl and baby who, as the narrator comes to realize, belong to an earlier time. The title story, which also features an archeological excavation, is narrated by a woman who clearly knows more about the ruins that remain unearthed at a local burying ground than she lets on to either the interloping archeologists or to the reader. Although some of the stories end so ambiguous as to be anticlimactic, Parker shows considerable skill at creating dramatic tension and moods of menace that will appeal to fans of subtly told tales of the macabre.
. . . a beautifully produced collection of nine stories by Rosalie Parker, in which themes of ancient knowledge intrud[e] into the modern world. . . My favourite out of all that’s on offer, there’s a delightful ambiguity to ‘The Cook’s Story’ . . . The atmosphere of a country house and the life of wealthy people are brought to vivid life . . . with a sense of the madness and alienation that’s bubbling away beneath the surface and just waiting to explode.
-Peter Tenant, Black Static, #21
If not breaking new ground with every tale, what's striking in all eight is their perfect pitch. It is clear Parker already knows the rules of the uncanny (of what to hide, what to reveal, and when) and how, ideally, to express them.
-Mark Andreson, The Pan Review
The stories to be found in this slim volume are chilling to be sure, and engrossing in every way. But there's a bigger picture than just the stories themselves. These stories take us not to a different world, but a different vision of this world.
-Rick Kleffel, The Agony Column
The Old Knowledge is perfect reading for a winter's afternoon when the light is beginning to fail. Curl up by the fire in your holiday cottage, open a good bottle of red, and enjoy.
-Katherine Haynes, A Ghostly Company Newsletter, Winter 2010
Rosalie Parker’s first collection gathers together eight tales which introduce us to her unique brand of gentle horror. With a clear descent from the school of classic ghost stories these tales are another branch of the evolutionary tree for the ghostly weird tale, exploring modern relationships and feelings in a timeless style.
-The Black Abyss
... straightforward, unassuming prose belies a keen psychological insight. Old knowledge is never without its secrets and mysteries, and neither is The Old Knowledge.
-The Stars at Noonday
Parker's debut collection appears very promising, especially for those who favour steady, well crafted prose hinting in soft tones at the darker side of reality.
-Mario Guslandi, The Short Review
This book, despite its disarmingly simple pure prose style and traditional-seeming supernatural plots, is possibly more intriguing than many a book with dense textured styles and ostensibly complicated plots. An eye-opener for me.
-D.F. Lewis, My Last Balcony: Real-Time Reviews
Parker has a way of crafty spinning that makes each story work.
Altogether, this is a nice little meal - not too much, not too little - of strange tales to read by a warm fireplace with a cup of hot cocoa. You'll want just a hint of chill in the air. And if you can't crack open the door to let it in, The Old Knowledge will do it for you.
-Forrest for the Trees