15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on 9 December 2006
Algernon Blackwood is right at the top of the class when it comes to spinning supernatural yarns. His style is quiet, subtle and articulate. Anyone who enjoys ghost stories and tales of other-worldly unease should enjoy this collection enormously. These six stories concern the most interesting cases of the 'psychic doctor', John Silence. They are:
1) 'A Psychical Invasion', where an author inadvertently opens himself to malignant spiritual influences by taking too large a dose of a certain (currently) popular drug. Doctor Silence employs the services of a dog and cat from his own household in order to help him detect and confront the evil assailant.
2) 'Ancient Sorceries', in which a quiet and unassuming gentleman is ensnared by the shape-shifting shadows of a past life, as he returns from a holiday in France. Doctor Silence diagnoses his condition but has doubts as to whether the man will have the strength to resist the pull of an old love.
3) 'The Nemesis of Fire' involves a terrifying, incendiary phenomenon that haunts the home of a retired military man and his sister. John Silence must discover how and why the problem started and what must be done to defuse the situation.
4) 'Secret Worship', where a businessman pays a visit to his old school in Germany, only to find that things have changed horribly. He could be lost, body and soul, but John Silence happens to be in the neighbourhood, so he may have a chance ...
5) 'The Camp of the Dog' is a romance - but the least slushy romance in the wildest and most beautiful surroundings imaginable. Doctor Silence makes an emergency call on the wilderness to deal with a mysterious dog.
6) 'A Victim of Higher Space' involves an unfortunate man who has studied to know and understand dimensions beyond those familiar to ordinary humans. He succeeds just well enough to achieve the unhappy ability to keep slipping uncontrollably into a rather disturbing one. Doctor Silence helps him to get to the next stage of understanding.
If you suspect you might enjoy this book, I suggest you snap it up. I've been trying to get hold of this and other Algernon Blackwood books for ages. I've found and ordered them, but they've never been delivered - just apologetic emails saying it hasn't been possible to obtain a copy. I know this really is available now because a copy actually arrived by post. I've read it, absolutely thoroughly enjoyed it and will, before long, read it again. Amazon has them in stock as I'm writing this review. I hope they'll still have some as you're reading it.
36 of 39 people found the following review helpful
on 4 June 2001
John Silence is a character Mr. Blackwood created just after the turn of the century. One can say that he was inspired by the Sherlock Holmes stories of A.C.Doyle, hauntings of M.R.James and outworldiness of Arthur Machen as he wrote the Silence cycle.
Algernon Blackwood was a great inspiration for the horror writers who came after him. Lovecraft openly adores him in his "Supernatural Horror in Literature" and a shadow of his style can be felt in the works of Jackson, Campbell and Ligotti.
The complete set of John Silence stories has not been in print for at least three decades. Besides, this is the first volume to include the story "Victim of Higher Spaces", which was not included in the previous prints.
All in all, this is a great read for all horror readers with a literary taste.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
The John Silence Stories are, a bit like Carnacki, about taking a Sherlock Holmes pathology to ghost stories. Reluctant paranormal investigator Dr. Silence (brilliant name) is really a sceptic. Although he is aware of the supernatural, he will look for a natural explanation to the various hauntings and visitations that take place. Mainly this will involve looking into the personal lives of those who are being haunted to look for triggers.
Clearly Blackwood was inspired not only by the likes of M R James and Conan Doyle but also by Freud and the then new science of psychotherapy. The carefully tying of the supernatural maelstroms to the personal maelstroms of the characters make these chillers all the more chilling.
Brilliantly imaginative, Blackwood's work deserves to be better known and this collection is well worth your money!