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Manual Scary Tales: Selected Writings of Algernon Blackwood

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States we experience sometimes waking up in the middle of the night, uncertain whether this feeling is made by dream or we actually heard something. The second category is inseparably connected with nature. Not nature. But Nature. While the man is just a helpless plaything in its hands, stray wanderer, an intruder in the primeval forest.

The Willows, Algernon Blackwood - Dragonfly: An Exploration of Eco-fiction

They say that snowy Canadian wilderness is a place where one can meet a strange creature native to the Indian legend and covered with willows island on the Danube may be a gateway to another world. You never know. However one thing seems to be certain. From now you'll never feel light-heartedly resting in the shade of the trees.

View all 5 comments. Aug 01, Kay rated it it was amazing Shelves: fiction , haunted-strange-macabre. In his most effective tales, he slowly draws the reader into a downward spiral of dread and terror, creating a palpable sense of a malevolent unknowable or unspeakable something. This ability to arouse and sustain terror is what is trul Terrific collection of Blackwood's best-known tales, including "The Willows" and "The Wendigo. This ability to arouse and sustain terror is what is truly remarkable about Blackwood's writing.

It's remarkable that he keeps the reader's spellbound attention while essentially simply describing a psychological sort of unwinding or inchoate impressions. I love these affordable Dover editions of ghost, detective, and supernatural stories and have many of them. This one has a foreword by the excellent critic and editor E. Oct 12, Pam Baddeley rated it liked it Shelves: supernatural , short-stories. This is a collection of the most famous of Algernon Blackwood's spooky stories, plus a concluding one, 'Max Hensig' which is non-supernatural and deals with a reporter's brush with the psychopathic killer of the title, quite interesting in its own right.

The book opens with 'The Willows', a long story which some have stated is the best ghost story in the English language. I wouldn't agree; for a start, it isn't about ghosts but about the encounter of two men, travelling to the source of the Danub This is a collection of the most famous of Algernon Blackwood's spooky stories, plus a concluding one, 'Max Hensig' which is non-supernatural and deals with a reporter's brush with the psychopathic killer of the title, quite interesting in its own right. I wouldn't agree; for a start, it isn't about ghosts but about the encounter of two men, travelling to the source of the Danube, with forces from another dimension.

The setting is a remote marshy area covered in stunted willow bushes, and in the course of the story, the willows take on something of the nature of the inimical force which threatens the two men. I found it a bit slow, and its chief interest lay in my conviction that it must have influenced H P Lovecraft, a well-read man, because it is surely the earliest example the credit is of its first collection in another anthology, so it is earlier than that of a story about the intrusion into our dimension of hostile forces alien to humankind - a theme which became Lovecraft's entire oeuvre.

Other stories, such as 'Ancient Sorceries' and 'Secret Worship' concern those who worship traditional sources of evil, such as the devil Asmodeus. A hapless protagonist is drawn into a situation where he feels an irrestible attraction to a place or person, sometimes both - in 'Ancient Sorceries' and 'Glamour of the Snow' the person in question is a femme fatale who exercises an almost literally fatal attraction.

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The portrayal of witchcraft is always traditionally satanic in nature; far from the nature worship of the modern Wiccan religion which antedated Blackwood's stories. Other tales are more varied - 'The Listener' concerns an impoverished magazine article writer who takes rooms because they are cheap and finds out why, and 'He Kept His Promise' is about a student who is cramming for his exams when an old friend arrives, sadly transformed. In 'Ancient Lights' a staid officeworker is pixie-lead in an old wood, and an equally unadventurous character on a walking holiday is brought face to face with a moral dilemma in 'Accessory Before the Fact'.

And 'The Other Wing' is from the viewpoint of a young boy, although it is rather confusing at first, implying that the boy is an invalid - he isn't - and then that he is much younger than eight or nine; but it does capture well the attempt by a child to make sense of strange phenomena by inventing his own story about it to tell himself. Some of the stories fall a bit flat with non-conclusive endings: 'Ancient Sorceries', already mentioned, is one of a series Blackwood apparently wrote where someone tells their tale to a "psychic doctor" called John Silence, and trails off rather flatly.

However, even where they strike a modern reader as a bit slow or predictable, or lacking an impactful ending, they nevertheless are usually good at evoking an atmosphere of creepy awareness of the supernatural. Not the final story in the book, but the one I most enjoyed was the first Blackwood story I ever read, 'The Wendigo'.

Despite last reading this as a child, I still remembered certain striking details.

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The story holds a strange power and tellingly, is set in the great outdoors of remote Canada. Blackwood was a great explorer of wildernesses which still existed in the early Twentieth Century, Canada being one, and in 'The Wendigo' he evokes the remote loneliness and power of the forests and the strangeness of its denizens. Loosely based on a Native American mythological character, this story still creates shivers, though it is necessary to overlook the stereotypes of the era, including the somewhat condescending portrayal of the Native American cook and general dogsbody.

Given the mixture of stories and their varying success for me, my overall rating for the collection is 3 stars.


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View 2 comments. This was my first exposure to Blackwood's writing, and it won't be my last. Really good ghost stories in the literary vein. My favorites were The Willows and The Wendigo, mainly because of the settings. Blackwood can take the ghost story out of the haunted house although he does those too and put them right in the middle of the forest and make them so very unsettling.

As with any collection of this sort, some stories are better than others, but there was really nothing that I disliked. It was a This was my first exposure to Blackwood's writing, and it won't be my last. It was all readable and some were downright chilling. The final story in the volume, Max Hensig, was probably my least favorite, but even it had its own appeal.

If you are a fan of classical ghost stories, then be sure to pick this volume up. You won't be disappointed. Oct 19, Uncle rated it really liked it Shelves: ghosts , short-story-collections , horror-supernatural.

The Whisperers by Algernon Blackwood - Short Ghost and Horror Collection 020 - Horror

Best Ghost Stories of Algernon Blackwood , a selection of some of his most famous tales, was originally published in , though the stories themselves first appeared in the early s. His wordiness, seemingly quaint and old-fashioned, actually prolongs and intensifies the slowly-building terror of his ghostly tales. Comparisons between Blackwood and his more famous contemporary, M. James, are inevitable. Both were masters of the creepy story, but with significant differences. Instead of conventional hauntings, Blackwood was more interested in the mystical.

The stories in this collection are more likely to deal with ancient forces, existing seemingly beyond human understanding. It is no wonder that Blackwood was an important influence on the later American writer, H. Yet Blackwood was capable of writing good traditional ghost stories.

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Algernon Blackwood is particularly well-known for his genius for creating atmosphere, and using it with slow deliberation to keep the reader in a prolonged state of fear and dread. Best Ghost Stories of Algernon Blackwood should be a required text for readers interested in the evolution of twentieth century supernatural writing. Oct 22, Scott Rhee rated it really liked it Shelves: mystery , horror , short-stories.

Lovecraft, Edgar Allen Poe. While I do happen to love gratuitous blood and gore in my fiction, as in film, I tend to be a lot more discriminating nowadays. Night Shyamalan that an unseen presence is nearby, preceded by the hairs on the back of my neck popping up. Lately, I am less interested in blood and guts and more into a sense of the supernatural, a feeling of cosmic dread, which is why Lovecraft has always held a special place in my twisted heart.

While not a particularly great writer, Lovecraft was a brilliant creator of dark worlds populated with ideas and concepts that often went beyond the traditional sense of the supernatural. Not constrained by a Judeo-Christian mythos or ideology, Lovecraft felt that there were, certainly, supernatural forces bigger than us operating in the universe, but that they were older than, and more powerful than, our notions of God or ancient deities. Lovecraft, of course, got his sense of the weird and spooky from somewhere.

In interviews, Lovecraft referenced, as inspiration, Victorian-era horror writers such as J. Le Fanu, M. James, and Algernon Blackwood. Sadly, many of these writers are rarely read anymore. In the case of James, for instance, it is perhaps due to the fact that he created so many of the horror fiction cliches that we take for granted today that reading him is almost like reading basic templates of novels or stories by subsequent, and better, horror writers.

Blieler and published in by Dover Publications, is a short but intense collection of ghost stories by Blackwood. Nevertheless, the selection is impressive. The story takes place during a long canoe trip down the Danube. Two unnamed friends, ostensibly college buddies although so little is actually revealed about either character, almost purposefully , set up camp on a desolate piece of land somewhere between Vienna and Budapest.


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  • The Willows, Algernon Blackwood?
  • On the first night, both men witness what they first think is a corpse floating down the river but may have been just an otter flopping about in the water. They also see what could have either been a man standing on a barge, waving his hands at them as if warning them about something, or debris in the shape of man with outstretched arms. The trip goes downhill from there. Of course.

    Some of the stories are more run-of-the-mill haunted house stories, but they are all expertly executed and guaranteed to give one the heebie-jeebies.

    Ancient Sorceries and Other Weird Stories

    Blackwood was a journalist for a short time in New York City, and he had obviously seen some shit. In the story, the protagonist, Williams, is a journalist who is covering the trial of a German doctor accused of poisoning his wife. It was, apparently, acceptable for journalists to editorialize far more in stories than it is today. Either that, or editors were just completely worthless back then. Word on the street is that Hensig is after the journalist, and soon Williams is seeing the German doctor everywhere. Hensig is a joyfully creepy and charismatic psycho, who predates Hannibal Lector by about seventy years.

    I certainly can see Anthony Hopkins playing Dr. Happy Halloween! I picked up this book because I had read, more than once, that "The Willows" is considered by many to be the best ghost story ever written. I'm not sure that I would agree. A well-written tale that had me feeling a little "edgy" at times, it didn't really sustain itself for me. I realize that many might confuse the "ghost" story with a "horror" story, and they are not necessarily the same though they can be , but a ghostly presence ought to run a shivver up my spine, and this didn't, though per I picked up this book because I had read, more than once, that "The Willows" is considered by many to be the best ghost story ever written.

    I realize that many might confuse the "ghost" story with a "horror" story, and they are not necessarily the same though they can be , but a ghostly presence ought to run a shivver up my spine, and this didn't, though perhaps it came close. December 21, at am. December 22, at am. This allusiveness does draw me in more than utterly explicit horror. Me too. The lack of nuts and bolts detail is part of what makes these stories so very scary.

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    December 22, at pm. Ok — forests are creepy. You are commenting using your WordPress. You are commenting using your Google account. You are commenting using your Twitter account. You are commenting using your Facebook account. Notify me of new comments via email. Notify me of new posts via email. Like this: Like Loading After Maya had married in fact, remarried in , AB's work lost a vital spark, and his inspiration was further stifled by WWI, in which he served as an intelligence agent and a Red Cross worker.

    The net result was a series of uninspired works of maudlin sentimentality, including Karma: A Reincarnation Play play with Violet Pearn and The Garden of Survival , composed after the death of his brother and seeking to portray a link with the Afterlife. This mood was only slightly lightened by The Wolves of God, and Other Fey Stories coll , the best of his latter-day collections, based on ideas by Wilfred Wilson Tongues of Fire and Other Sketches coll is more ephemeral, the better stories — like "The Man who was Milligan" Pearson's Magazine — showing AB's continued interest in Time and the fourth dimension.

    This vein was mined more diligently in his last significant collection, Shocks coll , particularly in "Elsewhere and Otherwise", Full Circle English Review ; chap and "The Man who Lived Backwards" World Radio ; it has to be said that this collection also shows an unhealthy preoccupation with suicide. AB's other main works were either for children or, more enticingly, about them.

    The Education of Uncle Paul is a novel for adults about Children ; it explores the land of lost childhood on the threshold between today and tomorrow. This novel was later adapted for the stage by Violet Pearn as Through the Crack produced ; , and the theme was reworked by AB himself in The Extra Day and The Fruit Stoners , books that became increasingly for children rather than about childhood. During the s AB became popular as a radio broadcaster and storyteller following the trend established by A J Alan , and he further developed this career in the s, extending it to tv he received a Television Society Medal , but by now he was recycling old material, and found it difficult to produce anything new; it was only through the intervention of August W Derleth that his final original collection, The Doll, and One Other coll was published.

    His tv popularity led to the release of an omnibus of his stories, Tales of the Uncanny and Supernatural coll ; assembled with Tales of the Mysterious and Macabre [coll ] as Tales of Terror and Darkness omni AB received a CBE in