Winter Tales Time: Number Ninety

Every year, from the beginning of December until Epiphany, I like to share some winter tales — stories to tell or to read around a warm fire on a cold dark night, preferably with a steamy hot drink to wrap your hands around. I’m a bit late getting started this year, but I’m starting with a classic: a haunted house story by Irish writer Bithia Mary Croker (1848-1920).

Dark mansion by jailem d32bfx0

For a period extending over some years, a notice appeared periodically in various daily papers. It read:

“To let furnished, for a term of years, at a very low rental, a large old-fashioned family residence, comprising eleven bed-rooms, four reception rooms, dressing-rooms, two staircases, complete servants’ offices, ample accommodation for a Gentleman’s establishment, including six-stall stable, coach-house, etc.”

This advertisement referred to number ninety.

I knew better. I knew that it would never, never find a tenant. I knew that it was passed on as a hopeless case, from house-agent to house-agent. I knew that it would never be occupied, save by rats-and, more than this, I knew the reason why!

John Hollyoak, skeptic, agrees to spend the night in Number Ninety, a house of “such a desperate reputation, that even the adjoining mansions stood vacant.” Does it change his mind? Of course it does.

You can read Number Ninety here.


A list (with links) of the winter tales I’ve shared in previous years is on my Winter Tales page.

Ms. Croker lived in British-occupied India for 14 years with her husband, and much of her fiction is set there. To Let is the tale of a haunted bungalow in the Himalayas. It’s a good one.

Image: Haunted Mansion by Jailem, some rights reserved.

5 thoughts on “Winter Tales Time: Number Ninety

  1. Perfect timing. I’ve just been thinking of haunted house stories lately. Have you read This House is Haunted by John Boyne? This is an entertaining contemporary take on the haunted house story.

    1. No, I’ve not read that one! Looks like an homage to Turn of the Screw, from the description.

      I’ve been really busy this year, and I haven’t had as much time to post winter tales as I’d like; but this years theme does seem to be haunted houses…

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