Best Ghost Stories of Algernon Blackwood (Dover Mystery, Detective, & Other Fiction) Paperback – 2 Jan 2000
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From the Back Cover
A woman of snow . . . a midnight caller keeping his promise . . . forests where Nature is deliberate and malefic . . . enchanted houses . . . these are the beings and ideas that flood through this collection of ghost stories by Algernon Blackwood (1869-1951). Altogether thirteen stories, gathered from the entire corpus of Blackwood's work, are included: stories of such sheer power and imagination that it is easy to see why he has been considered the foremost British supernaturalist of the twentieth century.
Blackwood's ability to create an atmosphere of unrelieved horror and sustain it to the end of the story is almost unsurpassed. "The Willows"--which has been called by H. P. Lovecraft the finest supernatural story--is a typical example of Blackwood's art: slowly and surely Blackwood draws the reader into a world of shadows, nuances, and unearthly terror.
Blackwood was also a master at evoking feelings of mysticism and cosmic experience; dealing with such ideas as interpenetrating levels of existence and pantheistic elemental powers, he expanded the content of supernatural literature enormously. But even the more traditional elements of horror stories such as ghosts and haunted houses are handled with such energy and feeling that they rise far above their predecessors.
Drawing on serious Oriental thought, modern psychology, and philosophy, Algernon Blackwood introduced a sophistication to the horror story that--with few exceptions--it was devoid of before. The results are stories that are not only guaranteed to chill, but stories that have something to say to the intelligent reader.
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Top customer reviews
There is a good introduction about Blackwood himself and the edition includes the author's own 1938 introduction to his tales, which is excellent. He is a master of building up tension and suspense and the tales are worth reading for this alone. He is particularly interested in the power of Nature to come alive and take possession of people as a terrifying entity; read "The Willows" and "The Wendigo" to experience this for yourself. His skill lies in layers of small detail that slowly build up to create fear; don't expect lots of action, but do expect to feel your skin crawling and a sense of claustrophobia when reading these tales. You are relieved when a story ends, but you don't want to reach the end either!
This man was an unsung master of the ghost story genre-I recommend you to read these and more!
I didn't feel the other stories in this volume were up to the same standard. The two John Silence stories, "Secret Worship" and "Ancient Sorceries", were reminiscent of the old t.v series "The Prisoner". In both a man travelling alone in Europe comes across a remote village where everything seems very surreal and Not What It Seems. These manage to weave a certain Atmosphere, but I found on the whole that they didn't seem quite finished off somehow. "The Transfer" is a poor tale about pyschic vampirism. This would have worked a lot better if the villain in this had been more fleshed-out, but characterisation was Blackwood's Achille's Heel and it shows here, and I really couldn't get enough interest in why a part of the garden seemed neglected and barren. "Ancient Lights", about a faery-haunted wood, is too fey for my tastes, and "Accessory Before The Fact" too predictable. "The Empty House" is a bog-standard haunted house tale, with an absolutely abominable pairing of dotty old aunt and long-suffering nephew (this only works in Bertie Wooster stories for me!) going to investigate. It's well-written, but so spectacularly pointless that I wonder if Blackwood wrote it as a favour to someone!
If you haven't read the three best tales though then do so, they are some of the finest you'll come across in supernatural fiction.
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