Monday, October 5, 2015

MMRM: "The Wendigo" by Algernon Blackwood

'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.

Previous Mini Macabre Review Mondays:
#1: "The Lottery" by Shirley Jackson and "The Most Dangerous Game" by Richard Connell
#2: "The Tell-Tale Heart" and "The Black Cat" by Edgar Allan Poe
#3: "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" and "The Fall of the House of Usher"

"The Wendigo" by Algernon Blackwood

Available to read for free, online here.
Rating: 4 Stars (Excellent)
Content: More racism than you can shake a stick at, but suitable for Ages 13+
Page Count: Approximately 50 pages
Year Published: 1910 (I had another site that had it earlier, but this seems the most frequent year it is associated with)

Much like The Most Dangerous Game, this short horror story is set around the tradition of hunting. The Wendigo's beginning had me grimacing a little more than I'd like- naturally, when I came upon words I hadn't heard before, they were racial slurs. Despite that bad impression and perhaps a little too much foreshadowing, I grew to like the style in which it was told, similar to campfire stories you'd hear in Montana.

The Plot: Hunters and their guide encounter something unexpected on a moose hunting trip.

What I hadn't expected was for the writing to progressively get better as I read the story. It isn't often you stumble upon quotable quotes in short fiction, but with this book I highlighted at least ten passages that stuck with me as I read the book, so I'll share a few with you:

He was deeply susceptible, moreover, to that singular spell which the wilderness lays upon certain lonely natures, and he loved the wild solitudes with a kind of romantic passion that amounted almost to an obsession.
                 ~"The Wendigo" by Algernon Blackwood, Page 2 Kindle Edition

Yet, ever at the back of his thoughts, lay that other aspect of the wilderness: the indifference to human life, the merciless spirit of desolation which took no note of man.
                 ~"The Wendigo" by Algernon Blackwood, Page 16 Kindle Edition

The descriptive passages may be in excess of the quantities many people are used to in this day and age, but somehow they suit such a slow building story where you don't know what might happen (quite unlike the current crop of horror films). It provided the perfect backdrop for this story to be set upon, as horror stories without a good setting wouldn't be worth reading at all.

I imagine it might've been scarier back in the day when the true wilderness wasn't as sparse as it is now, but I find this one spooky nonetheless. The only thing to dislike about this one are the racial prejudices and preconceptions, which really make you feel sour about the characters (who talk precisely as though they live in the Old West). Nonetheless, "The Wendigo" has more to recommend it than to deter from it- it isn't every day I stumble across a quotable short story.

For more information on the creature that haunts this story (recommended for after you've read the story due to spoilers):
Beware the Wendigo

What is your favorite spooky story to read pre-Halloween?

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

(Yes, this link-up is moderated- spammers will be offered to the Wendigo.)

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