Monday, October 12, 2015

MMRM: "The Body Snatcher" by Robert Louis Stevenson and "A Terribly Strange Bed" by Wilkie Collins

'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 MMRMs:
#5: "The Wendigo" by Algernon Blackwood

"The Body Snatcher" by Robert Louis Stevenson

Available to read for free, online here.
Rating: 3.5 Stars (Great)
Content: Ghoulish imagery and death (Ages 13+)
Page Count: Approximately 20 pages
Year Published: 1884

Although this one covers events that were most likely to happen in the 1800s, there is now a modern day equivalent for the practice that is a bit more macabre. However, back in 1800s, body snatching was a necessity of the medical practice- how else could one learn how to be a surgeon, if there weren't sufficient corpses available to science?

The Plot: Old acquaintances meet again by happenstance, still haunted by their mutual secret...

What I liked about this story was the ghoulishness. It probably wouldn't survive past a modern day editor, as it is a tad overlong and wandering, but at its core lies a plot worthy of my favorite short fiction author, Edgar Allan Poe. Unlike last week's MMRM, this one doesn't feature any quotes I can use without spoiling, so I'll omit them. Also unlike last week's edition, there is no racism in the story... but I highly doubt any of the characters are remotely diverse.

I recommend "The Body Snatcher" to those who don't mind a story that takes a while to get to the point, but is great for Halloween and the month of October nonetheless.

"A Terribly Strange Bed" by Wilkie Collins

Available to read for free, online here. 
Rating: 3.5 Stars (Great)
Content: Dastardly plots (Ages 13+)
Page Count: It says 48 pages on Goodreads, but I think it's shorter.
Year Published: 1852

What a terribly strange story! It is rather predictable, since you know from the start something will be wrong with the bed, even if you can't predict what or how it might occur. The writing was of a better caliber than "The Body Snatcher", and there wasn't near as much plot lollygagging, which appeals to me as someone who likes instant gratification.

The Plot: A man visiting Paris wins big at a gambling house, but when he stays the night, strange things begin to transpire...

This reminded me of a certain story that predates this fiction (which I will disclose if you highlight [due to possible spoilers]: Sweeney Todd), but it isn't exactly identical, so I wasn't too put off by the resemblance. The story did make me want to read more of Wilkie Collins's work, as this was my first impression of his storytelling ability. 

I also learned a new word in the course of reading this short story: lachrymose- tearful or given to weeping.

Overall, this was a great little short story that didn't have as much of the gothic elements and surprises as I am used to. However, if you like a well-rounded short story that doesn't have any serious deficits, this is one to read. Just don't expect to be too astonished when the big reveal happens.

Mini Macabre Review Monday Link-up (For Those Who Wish to Participate in this Feature)

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