How did it take me so long to discover Algernon Blackwood? I don't know but I'm glad I eventually did. This collection of stories span the early (and apparently the best) years of his literary carrer. As such it serves as a good introduction to his work and gives you an idea of which other collections and/or novels to try next.
Blackwood writes beautifully and is a master at the slow building up of tension and creeping unease. Obviously in awe of nature himself, he conveys this most expertly in his stories to the reader. There are mysterious, powerful, barely comprehendable forces at work in the world that are largely indifferent to humanity that are beneath their notice for the most part. When they are inadvertently tangled with by some hapless individual who has strayed too far into the wilderness they may be lucky to escape with their life...and their sanity!
Ancestral memory and reincarnation is another common theme in Blackwood's stories and is explored to great effect. In fact it seems, in this collection at least, that he cannot put a foot wrong at whatever he turns his hand. He is remarkably consistant and all of these stories are of an excellent standard. It is not often one can say that about a collection of stories and for that reason this is probably the best book I've read this year.