'Tis the season for the unearthly, the undead, and the downright macabre. Not everyone can read an entire book in time for Halloween- some of us are too busy with other books, or even other things (gasp). For those poor souls, I offer these reviews: I will be writing my thoughts on some of my favorite short stories for this spooky season, either one at a time or in pairs.
This Year's Mini Macabre Review Mondays:
#9: "The Alchemist" and "The Beast in the Cave" by H.P. Lovecraft
#10: "Canon Alberic's Scrap-book" and "The Mezzotint" by M.R. James
"Casting the Runes" by M.R. James
Available to read for free, online here.
Content: Ages 12+ for violations in author-reviewer boundaries
Page Count: Approximately 16 pages
Year Published: 1911
I think this story does just perfectly on its own, which is why I'm chose this one for a singular review. One of the pitfalls of being a book blogger is that you sometimes come across a book you can't like- and sometimes you then write a review to purge your feelings about the offending book. Most of the time, these reviews pass unacknowledged by the author of said book, which is the way it should be. Most authors have plenty of positive reviews to fall back on. But imagine, for a moment, if you happened to review a book by an author who wasn't quite so forgiving.
That is the case with this story- a man believes an author has it out for him because he doesn't like his book. A series of weird happenings lead him to believe he's being targeted by someone, though he isn't sure who until clues are left for him in plain sight.
The Plot: Strange events lead a man to believe he will die if he doesn't outsmart his alleged killer.
'There is just one that has been taking shape vaguely in my mind. I've been told that your brother reviewed a book very severely not long before he died, and just lately I have happened to cross the path of the man who wrote that book in a way he would resent.'~"Casting the Runes" by M.R. James
"Casting the Runes" is a cautionary tale about the perils of dabbling with things beyond your ken. Though it starts slow, I didn't find myself apathetic to the events of the tale, which sometimes happens when a book verges on the supernatural side of things. This is a nice short read for those of us who need a slight, scary respite from larger, more intimidating tomes.
Keep it spooky,