The Faring Town Saga (Howard, R., E.)

It is perhaps a tad optimistic to call the three nautically themed ghost stories set in the Farin Town as a saga, but that's how they were marked in my collection and, by golly, that's how I'll call them. These stories lack most of the more typical Howardian elements: there are no barbarous heroes, who slay their way through monsters, there's just a small seaside town, where ghastly things happen.

Sea Curse tells a tale of three violent braggarts, who end up causing a death of a daughter of an old woman named Moll. Se flings a curse upon the men, who then flee the town only to end up dying as the woman promised them. The story sounds better than it really is and as a whole, it is a kind of a missed opportunity.

Restless Waters is a story about wronged love and a betrayal. A foul-mouthed captain has promised his girl to an older man in order to fetch a good price of her as dowry. In order to make this happen, he has taken care of the man the girl loved by executing him accused of mutiny. In the end, the lover of the girl strikes back from the dead the get his revenge.

This one plays out more like a moral story; the bad get their just reward and the innocent ones prevail. It even points out, that most people around despise the decisions the captain had in mind for his daughter. Structurally it is very much like a campsite ghost story but doesn't offer much more than that.

Out of the Deep narrates how a corpse of a man drifts ashore. The good people keep a vigil to this man, who ends up being something else than what they thought he was.  Instead of being a human corpse, he is a sea creature that has taken a form of the deceased and in its malice begins a murder spree among those who watched over him.

There's a good concept in the story, but it is far too short to really do anything special with it. It isn't bad, but it certainly could have been much more than it ended up as.

While the stories themselves are, to a degree, interesting, they aren't among the more ambitious writings Howard did during his short career. They are short and straightforward, with very little surprises in them. You could even call them forgettable, as there's very little in them that would make them truly stand out in comparison to Howard's own work or similar works by other writers.

Howard has the style down and for what they are, the stories might even be in perfect length, but if you aren't a huge fan of nautical horror, I doubt there's much in them to capture your interest.