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on 5 November 1999
I would like to endorse what the other reviewers have said about The Willows and The Wendigo. It must be thirty years since I read them, but once read, never forgotten. They are probably the only genuinely horrifying horror stories in English, or possibly any other language. I recall that Blackwood was an occultist, and believed in what he was writing about; he certainly taps in to some deep layer of superstitious dread in us all. The means used are not gross or visceral. It might be called spiritual or metaphysical horror. It can make you feel very uncomfortable indeed.
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on 10 December 2010
Ordered this because, for years, I had been teaching Blackwood's story "The Kit-Bag" as part of a Gothic module at Key Stage 3 at school and wanted to read more stories by the same author, who I knew very little about.

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!
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VINE VOICEon 16 December 2003
Those three reasons are "The Willows", "The Wendigo", and "The Listener", a trio of incredibly atmospheric tales. "The Willows" is about two men on a canoeing holiday on the Danube, who pitch camp for the night on a small island which is rapidly being eroded by the water. It is almost impossible to sum up what happens next, as this is a highly surreal and edgy piece of work. I don't know if anyone's ever adapted this for the stage, but it would make a very effective piece of theatre. "The Wendigo" starts off with a "Deliverance"-type feel to it. A bunch of moose-hunters set off into the wilds of Canada. Two split off from the others, and when they set up tent next to a huge lake on the edge of the forest, one of them starts to get very nervy indeed. We are now distinctly in "Blair Witch" territory, as Defago becomes convinced that The Wendigo, a monstrous creature from Native American Indian folklore is coming to get him ... and then he disappears. "The Listener", by contrast to the spectacular locations of the other two tales, is set almost entirely in a very seedy London lodging-house. A down-at-heel writer takes rooms there, and slowly (told through his diary) becomes convinced that some very strange things are afoot in the house. This story reminded me strongly at times of Dostoyevsky's "Notes From Underground", as it seems to be apparent that the narrator is slowly losing his marbles. The explanation for everything when it comes is unusual and imaginative. As with the other two stories, this one would work brilliantly on film.
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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on 8 December 1998
The title is a little misleading, since it hints at creaky old victorian tales about spectres haunting the houses where they died. Anyone stumbling blindly into this volume will therefore be shocked by "The Willows" and "The Wendigo", two of the best horror stories ever written. Most people today don't find the idea of ghosts terribly scary because they are so easy to understand (spirits of the dead). "The Willows" is frightening because the forces involved are almost impossible to understand! And "The Wendigo" will scare you away from wintry forest landscapes (and probably most of Canada) for a good long while!
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on 16 June 1998
Blackwood's tales are some of the most terrifying stories I have ever encountered (in a lifetime spent hunting good horror fiction), and his ability to sustain that feeling of dread throughout the entire tale is amazing. In this collection readers will find The Wendigo, which I can honestly say is the most disturbing horror tale I have ever read. In addition, The Willows and The Listener are two others that will chill you to the bone and make you sleep with the lights on, no matter how old you are.
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on 17 August 1997
Blackwood wrote a lot, and some of it is mediocre, but there are two magnificent stories in this collection that every aficionado of classic ghost stories should have: "The Willows" and "The Wendigo." No other writer of supernatural fiction ever conveyed the horror of isolation in nature as well as Blackwood in these stories (at least to my knowledge). Enjoy!
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on 13 March 2012
Blackwood is one of the greatest writers of all times, in any genre. The breadth of his imagination, his subtly plotted mounting dread and the sheer otherworldly fear that he manages to evoke in the most natural of scenes is breathtaking and genuinely terrifying. The Willows and The Wendigo are like lessons in storytelling and two of the most frightening tales put to paper. Faultless.
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on 4 May 2014
As with all collections of short stories the quality varies,but even the ones that slightly suffer with age are still a good read...obviously "the willows" and "the wendigo" are the standouts,with the latter my favourite
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on 2 December 2001
I openly adore Blackwood. At first I had ambiguous feelings, I'd heard great things but on first reading of this book found his effect somewhat hit and miss. But Blackwood is a prime example of my favourite kind of ghostly writer; the one whose work leaves an impression long after you've finished reading the story. His words weave evocative moods and atmospheres and draw the reader into mysterious twilight worlds of nature. Certainly worth persevering with, for the experience that it offers.
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on 29 December 2012
The stories are |OK, but this publication is the result of OCR scanning and no typo checking. Also, I hate US spelling. The inner margins are so narrow and the binding so tight, keeping the thing open to read it is a big problem. More cheapo retailing.
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