It's been just about long enough to allow myself the pleasure of reading another book by the master of numinous horror, Algernon Blackwood. I picked this book as it is (according to [a:S.T. Joshi|406026|S.T. Joshi|http://d.gr-assets.com/authors/1200469411p2/406026.jpg]) Blackwood's last great collection and also because I hadn't read any of the stories previously.
There's something about his writing that really uplifts me, and never fails to evoke an unsettling atmosphere and mood. Yes, he is
very wordy, and some may feel like he belabours the point but in fact it is his technique for effecting gradual and subtle shifts in the narrative and the protagonist's state of mind. His prose style reads easily to modern ears though does feel old fashioned.
There's only actually five stories in this collection, four of which I would actually call novellas more than short stories. They generally share a common theme (that extends throughout his work) of spiritual (re)discovery and Blackwood obviously felt that people of his age had generally lost touch with their more elemental, spiritual natures. He was a theist without holding to any particular creed or doctrine and one gets the impression that he held the rationalist/atheist in equally as low regard as the dogmatic, proselytizing zealot.
"The Regeneration of Lord Ernie" was the opening tale about a professor taking a young heir around the world in order to help him find himself and lose his apathy. Nothing seems to have any impact until they stumble upon some strange cult in the mountains of France that worship the elemental forces of air and fire.
But my favourite of the collection was definitely "The Damned". A haunted house story with a twist. Blackwood masterfully builds up tension and atmosphere in this story and is only let down by too forcefully (I felt) hammering home his world view once again at the end.
Well, that's my fix done for this year...until next time.