Comparative Anatomy: The Best of Stephen Gallagher

Comparative Anatomy: The Best of Stephen Gallagher

Illustration By Christopher Shy
Adding to cart… The item has been added

Dust jacket illustration by Christopher Shy.

Introduction by Steven Volk.

About the Book:

“Magic always stops at midnight,” says the doomed narrator in the title story of Stephen Gallagher’s career-spanning collection, Comparative Anatomy, but while that may be true, the reader will find no end to the magic in these thirty astonishing tales by one of Britain’s most distinguished writers.

From the inimitable postwar melancholy of a forlorn ghost bound to the house in which it died in “Twisted Hazel,” and a common man’s misguided attempt to temper grief in “Shepherds’ Business,” to the unsettling demands of an overbearing family desperate to reap the rewards of vicarious fame in “Little Dead Girl Singing” and the collision of disparate personalities among wicked children and bizarre religion in “The Butterfly Garden,” Comparative Anatomy is as much a meditation on what it means to be alive as it is an exploration into what may await us when we die. 

Herein you’ll find stories that explore the very nature of ghosts and how often it is us, and not those we’ve lost, who do the haunting, as the lines blur between the paranormal and the pathological, and all manner of characters from time travelers to clairvoyants, priests to serial killers, and thieves to ventriloquists, find their souls laid bare by spectral encounters and the sinister desires of man’s own fractured psyche to know what comes next. 

Comparative Anatomy includes two original tales, a novelette, “The Backtrack,” and a short story, “Live from the Morgue,” written especially for a collection by an author at the height of his power as one of the premier dark fantasists of his generation. 

Limited: 1000 signed numbered hardcover copies 


From Publishers Weekly (Starred Review):

“Subterranean’s Best of series does justice to an undeservedly obscure genre author, here highlighting the ways Gallagher (The Bedlam Detective) renders ingenious concepts and fully realized characters, both human and supernatural, through lambent prose… Three of these 30 tales have never before been published, including the masterful “Shepherds’ Business,” in which a doctor moves to a remote British island in 1947, where he gradually discovers horrors beyond his wildest imagining. Fans of Arthur Machen and Stephen King will be especially captivated.”

[Correction: “Shepherd’s Business” isn’t previously unpublished, but it is one hell of a story.]


Table of Contents

  • Introduction by Steven Volk
  • Twisted Hazel
  • The Back of his Hand
  • Little Angels
  • Restraint
  • The Box
  • Comparative Anatomy
  • Blame the French
  • Cheeky Boy (Heroes and Villains)
  • The Price
  • Eels
  • To Dance by the Light of the Moon
  • The Beautiful Feast of the Valley
  • One Dove
  • The Visitors’ Book
  • In Gethsemane
  • Life Line
  • Not Here, Not Now
  • The Plot
  • O, Virginia
  • Misadventure
  • Little Dead Girl Singing
  • Doctor Hood
  • My Repeater
  • The Governess
  • Magpie
  • The Boy Who Talked to the Animals
  • The Backtrack
  • Live from the Morgue
  • Shepherds’ Business
  • The Butterfly Garden


Christopher Shy
Stephen Gallagher
568 pages
United States
Subterranean Press