- Hardcover: 400 pages
- Publisher: Penguin Books (24 Sept. 2013)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0143122347
- ISBN-13: 978-0143122340
- Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 8,800,219 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Uc Ancient Sorceries and Other Weird Stories--Canceled
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Top Customer Reviews
1) 'Smith: An Episode in a Lodging-House'. A doctor recounts a strange and disturbing adventure he had as a student staying in lodgings.
2) 'The Willows'. Two men taking a canoeing holiday on the Danube, stop to camp for the night on a island where the willows are haunted by something huge and terrifying.
3) 'The Insanity of Jones'. A man takes revenge for outrages committed against him in a previous life.
4) 'Ancient Sorceries'. A man tries to resist being drawn in to the dark religion of a previous life.
5) 'The Man Who found Out'. A scientist who leads a secret, not-so-scientific life outside the lab, discovers something he would have preferred not to have known from some ancient tablets he shouldn't have read.
6) 'The Wendigo'. A party of hunters encounter an angry spirit of Native American legend haunting a Canadian forest.
7) 'The Glamour of the Snow'. A writer, staying at a ski resort in the Alps, is lured away from the warmth and safety of the village to the freezing regions above the tree line, by a cold entity known and feared by the locals.
8) 'The Man Whom Trees Loved'. An old couple retire to a house on the edge of the New Forest and the forest gradually takes possession of the man as the woman struggles to keep him.
9) 'Sand'. A man addicted to travel goes to Egypt hoping to get to know its real spirit and mysteries - and has a more sinister experience than he'd hoped for.
All excellent, interesting and imaginative tales. Highly recommended.
It's housed in cheap cardstock and the stories themselves are printed with minimal margin space, further cheapening the experience. There is no introduction at all, and even the blurb on the back could be bettered by a schoolboy.
Like the nasty re-prints of Dunsany, this spartan money-grab shows no respect for its subject's elegant work, and should never have been printed.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Although this anthology features a couple of obvious choices ("The Willows" and "The Wendigo"), the editor has also added a few of Blackwood's lesser known stories, which is the reason that this collection is requisite. As usual, S.T. Joshi has done a splendid job of offering thorough and insightful notes about each tale at the end of the collection. Highly-recommended.
So, with the standard disclaimers out of the way:
"An Episode in a Lodging House" - very Lovecraftian feel, including mystic text for doing Terrible Things (publication date 1906 predates HPL)
"The Willows" - can't say that I got into the spirit of this one. It reminded me of pleasant camping trips and hikes, not anything awe- or terror- inspiring. Other people seem to like it though.
"The Insanity of Jones" - an interesting story about karma and supposed justice. I was curious to see whether the central character would choose vengeance or mercy.
"Ancient Sorceries" - this lengthy story about witchcraft and a town's dark history was a good read. I found the love interest to be creepy and added to the atmosphere.
"The Wendigo" - this was my favorite. The Wendigo was what I thought The Willows should have been. The isolation, the dark, unexplored corners of the North, the terrifying abduction, all came together to be really eerie.
"The Man whom the Trees Loved" - if pagans wrote evangelistic tracts, they would be this. I felt that the writer was trying to proselytize more than write a good story. It took up a large portion of the book as well. Caveat emptor...
"Sand" - good use of suspense, realms beyond knowing. This story and the Lodging House really show the source of many of Lovecraft's ideas (who was the inspiration for many other writers such as Robert Bloch and Stephen King, who influence us today).
Having done some traveling to and extended periods working in a few countries, one of the things that appeals to me in Algernon Blackwood's work is how many stories were often adapted from his own extremely storied life as a world traveler and adventurer.
In the often bloodless realm of what I call 'locational-horror fiction', A.B.'s 40+ page THE WILLOWS just can't be beat. This story will make you think twice about ever getting in a canoe again, really. That some smart director hasn't made a film adaptation of it is criminal and undiscerning, considering that it would be a far better venture than a re-make of 'Goonies', fercryinoutloud!.
Blackwood was the son of a fervent Christian evangelist. His social viewpoint is way ahead-of-his-time, mirrors mine, & is just spot-on for 2013, nearly 100 years after he wrote it.
Dig this quote: "And I loathe, LOATHE the spirit of to-day with its cheap-jack inventions, and smother of sham universal culture, its murderous superfluities and sordid vulgarity, without enough real sense of beauty left to see that a daisy is nearer Heaven than an airship." WOW.