Short Story Sunday: Yellow Smoke, Scott Thomas

Urn and Willow Cover

While every story in Scott Thomas’ Urn & Willow—a collection of ghostly tales set in 18th and 19th century New England—is great, “Yellow Smoke” is a standout for its genuine mastery at inducing absolute terror; few short stories scare me into sleeping with the lights on like this one does.

This is due to its impressive imagery, sense of place, use of language, and the simple mystery at its core; the truly terrifying bits are also sparingly rendered, leaving much to the imagination. Beyond that, a hallmark of the New England-set Thomas tales is their indigenous nature and feel. He regularly inserts genuine knowledge born of someone having lived here, and engaged with the landscape, their entire lives. A spoiler-free example: “You hardly would have believed it was still August, chilly as it was that quiet, moonlit night. Not that September was very far off. The eighth month had just about run out of days, though one familiar with New England could testify that the months frequently overlapped, the weather at times possessed of a certain indecisiveness. October, for instance, might witness a dusting of snow, or a bout of withering heat. One never knew for certain what a month might bring.” Thomas knows how to manipulate his reader in a way I wish every writer did.

Alternate Ghost Girl Urn & Willow Cover Scott Thomas

The alternate cover for Scott Thomas’ URN AND WILLOW accurately conveys the stories’ strong sense of place, evident in all of his work.

You can purchase a copy of Urn & Willow—well worth owning; honestly, all of these stories are excellent—here: There are also copies available on Ebay and at Barnes & Noble.

About kristipetersenschoonover

A ghost story writer who still sleeps with the lights on, Kristi Petersen Schoonover’s fiction has appeared in many magazines and anthologies; her traditionally published books include a short story collection, THE SHADOWS BEHIND. She was the recipient of three Norman Mailer Writers Colony Residencies and holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Goddard College. She serves as co-host of the DARK DISCUSSIONS podcast, as founding editor of the dark literary journal 34 ORCHARD, and is a member of the New England Horror Writers. Follow her adventures at

Posted on August 18, 2019, in Ghost Stories, horror short stories, Horror Stories, Short Stories and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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