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Uc Ancient Sorceries and Other Weird Stories--Canceled

3 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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Product details

  • 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)

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Format: Paperback
Algernon Blackwood was the master of supernatural story writing. He wrote as if from actual experience and real belief. His descriptions convey feelings and images in a precise and poetic way so that his belief, for a while, becomes your belief too. The nine stories in this collection are:

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.
Comment 33 of 34 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Do not order this edition if you want a Blackwood anthology presented in decent fashion. Despite the 'See Inside' preview indicating that this is the Penguin Classics edition with S. T. Joshi's introduction and notes, it is actually a bare-bones rush job by 'Digireads.com'.

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.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: HASH(0x9aa8e4e0) out of 5 stars 16 reviews
45 of 48 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9a76f4a4) out of 5 stars The scariest of ghost story writers 9 Jan. 2004
By Jay Dickson - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Algernon Blackwood really is the most frightening to me of all horror story writers. He has a way of capturing mood and setting that outdoes any of his many followers (among whom H. P. Lovecraft was proudly one of the most preeminent). The three most famous stories in this book--the title story, "The Wendigo," and, above all, "The Willows"--emblematize his skill. The title story is set in an ancient French town where the townspeople seem to have a peculiar habit of transforming into something else, and authentically captures the creepiness of medieval towns at night. Even more frightening is "The Wendigo": set in the North Woods, it realizes whatever fears you've ever had walking alone in the snowy woods. "The Willows" was Lovecraft's nomination for the finest horror story ever written, and it clearly may have inspired THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT. Two canoesmen traversing through the Middle European forests find themselves stranded on an island by unknown forces that won't let them leave. Part of the pleasure of Blackwood is that he never overdoes it: he has a marvelous light touch, and reads quite crisply at the level of the sentence.
23 of 26 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9a7675f4) out of 5 stars Superb Collection of Weird Tales 1 Oct. 2002
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
These are profoundly unsettling stories that reveal the darker forces that co-exist in the world alongside mankind. These are literate and thoughtfully chilling tales, whereby Blackwood buildings a sense of unease and gradual terror through his careful and atmosphericly descriptive prose.
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.
18 of 21 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9a767b1c) out of 5 stars Cumulative and Subtle Supernatural Terror 1 Aug. 2004
By Nigel Jackson - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Algernon Blackwood's stories are beautifully crafted, allusive, understated and often rather quiet in tone: their subtle and lasting impact upon the imagination resides in the eerie ability Blackwood possessed to evoke certain rare interactions with remote spheres of primaeval power long anteceding modern man and his circumscribed world of reassuring rationalism: AB's narratives reveal the domain of vast elemental beings and ancient presences haunting the outer spaces of woods and the wilderness of untamed nature and lurking behind the veil of appearances, emerging betimes from behind the facades of seeming normality, often to ensorcel and lure certain susceptible humans from this world into an unknown existence in secret realms of immense mystery. AB's tales, truly connoisseur-fare for the lover of supernatural terror, almost all concern the contact, whether intentional or inadvertent, with that which lies beyond the liminal borders of the mundane, pressing invisibly in upon us but unsuspected by the greater mass of humanity. 'The Willows' is unsurpassed in the genre, a genuinely unsettling story involving unseen alien potencies which threaten two men camping on a remote river island in Middle Europe. Likewise 'The Wendigo' reveals the fearful reality which underlies Indian folklore and dwells far beyond the familiar places of humankind, in the virgin forests of Canada. 'The Man Who The Trees Loved' is an exceedingly strange account of the secret arboreal world and its claim over a human soul and 'Ancient Sorceries' is possibly the best tale of Witchcraft i have ever read, capturing the furtive and oblique feline atmosphere of the hidden life which a sleepy French town conceals beneath it's deceptive surface. I should have liked to have seen some other old favourites included such as that wondrous story 'The Trod', the quiet and fog-bound lycanthropic horror of 'The Empty Sleeve', 'The Glamour of the Snow', 'The Doll', 'The Touch of Pan' and 'The Man Who Was Milligan' and the mysterious poetic conjurations of 'The House of the Past' and 'The South Wind'. I fell under the spell of these wonderful tales when i read AB's 'Tales of the Uncanny & Supernatural' in childhood around 1973. Their appeal has not diminished with the passing of the years but only grown stronger. AB's tales of spiritual terror will lead one into a truly disquieting ambience of the supernatural which will endure in your imagination for long years afterwards.
44 of 60 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9a644198) out of 5 stars Some Good, some not 13 Mar. 2004
By Alexander Scott - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
I can't say that Algernon Blackwood is my favorite eerie writer. I prefer Lovecraft's neo-gnosticism to Blackwood's pagan naturalism. To each his own, I guess. Clearly, I am biased in favor of the former type of story over the latter, although there were many good stories.
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).
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9a6310a8) out of 5 stars INDISPENSIBLE 23 May 2013
By Bret Hart - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Yesterday I began to read ALGERNON BLACKWOOD's (1869 - 1951, a very LARGE influence on Lovecraft) collection of spooky short stories - Ancient Sorceries and Other Weird Stories [ISBN: 0142180157] - again. I've been a sucker for scary stories ever since being taught Poe's 'The Tell-Tale Heart' in middle school 40 years ago. Having just taught AC Doyle's 'Hound of the Baskervilles' (THE best Sherlock Holmes story, hands down) to my 8th graders, I am really primed for another exceptional writer of Mood and deployer of Setting-as-Hostile-Character.

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.
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