In 2018, Penguin released the Penguin Modern box set: 50 short books of around 50 pages each, of which this book, The Missing Girl by Shirley Jackson is book 20. The set showcases authors and poets who sit within the Penguin Modern Classics list and have real pioneering spirit – pushing the boundaries and making people think.
The idea is that these little books give you a taster of what makes each writer so special, while showcasing work by them you may not be so familiar with. I’ve read (and loved) We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson so was excited to delve into this – a set of three short stories, all imbued with Jackson’s trademark sense of menace…
The Missing Girl
The first short story is about a young girl that goes missing from her boarding school. I think what I enjoyed most was the callous twist at the end, absolutely what I want from a Shirley Jackson read (however short).
Journey with a Lady
In this tale, a young boy is put on a train by his parents to go and spend time with his grandfather. On the journey he befriends a woman who isn’t on the right side of the law…
Rounding up with the perfectly paced Nightmare. Short but sweet (or should that be sinister) it follows a young woman as she attempts to deliver a package across town – but she seems to be being tracked and she can’t work out why.
When she looked around, the sound truck shouted, ‘Find Miss X, find Miss X.‘
While none of these stories are as outright creepy as We Have Always Lived in the Castle, now that I’m reflecting, they all have a lingering sense of unease, which is no mean feat. I enjoyed them all, especially in Nightmare – that would be my favourite of the trio.
Overall, The Missing Girl is a perfect little insight into Shirley Jackson’s tone and style. I love the idea of this Penguin Modern series and will definitely be reading more!
- Get your copy of The Missing Girl here
- Published by Penguin 2018;
- 55 pages;
- My rating: