Book Review: The Tale of the Tailor and the Three Dead Kings by Dan Jones

Genre: Historical fiction
Publisher: Head of Zeus
Pub date: 14 October 2021

A chilling medieval ghost story, retold by bestselling historian Dan Jones. Published in a beautiful small-format hardback, perfect as a Halloween read or a Christmas gift.

One winter, in the dark days of King Richard II, a tailor was riding home on the road from Gilling to Ampleforth. It was dank, wet and gloomy; he couldn’t wait to get home and sit in front of a blazing fire.

Then, out of nowhere, the tailor is knocked off his horse by a raven, who then transforms into a hideous dog, his mouth writhing with its own innards. The dog issues the tailor with a warning: he must go to a priest and ask for absolution and return to the road, or else there will be consequences…

First recorded in the early fifteenth century by an unknown monk, The Tale of the Tailor and the Three Dead Kings was transcribed from the Latin by the great medievalist M.R. James in 1922. Building on that tradition, now bestselling historian Dan Jones retells this medieval ghost story in crisp and creepy prose.

This is the perfect reading as we head towards the spooky season, I’d never heard of this story so was very intrigued to read Jones’ retelling of the tale.


If like me, you loved hearing ghost stories as a child then this is the perfect short story to take you back to childhood.
It certainly has very creepy aspects and I definitely wouldn’t want any of these apparitions appearing to me of an evening walk home especially the king!

The Latin version is also included which although I can’t understand the majority was great to try and decipher after reading Jones’ version.
I do hope Jones decides to retell more of the original tales as this one was very enjoyable.

The Tale of the Tailor and the Three Dead Kings is out today and available as an ebook or hardback.

Thank you to NetGalley and Head of Zeus for the advanced copy in exchange for an honest review.

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