Monday, October 31, 2016

MMRM #13: "The Pale Man" and "The Striding Place"

'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
#11: "Casting the Runes" by M.R. James- A Book Blogger's Nightmare
#12: "Oh, Whistle and I'll Come to You, My Lad" and "Number 13" by M.R. James

"The Pale Man" by Julius Long

Available to read for free, online here.
Rating: 4.5 Stars (Exceptional)
Content: Ages 12+ for a macabre mystery
Page Count: Approximately 5 pages (takes about ten minutes to read)
Year Published: 1934

This story starts out fairly innocuous. There are reasonable explanations as to why a weirdly pale man might be residing in a hotel and changing rooms- he might be just strangely pale like yours truly. However, given I did find this on a website touting it was one of nine scariest short stories (yes, I did find it scary, but the other ones weren't so scary), I knew there had to be a twist to it.

The Plot: A pale man is seen in a country hotel.

I think what really makes this story shine is the fact that it's written in first person, and the personable writing style. It's easy to relate to the character, as I think we all tend to notice those who look a bit odd wherever we happen to be.

My favorite snippet:
He favored me with a smile whose meaning I have tried in vain to decipher. I can not but believe that he meant it to have some significance. He acted as if there were between us some secret that I failed to appreciate. But, then, perhaps his smile was meaningless after all and only ambiguous by chance, like that of the Mona Lisa.
           ~From "The Pale Man" by Julius Long

"The Pale Man" is one of my favorite Mini Macabre stories I found in 2016 (the other being "Oh, Whistle and I'll Come to You, My Lad" from last week). It's concise, nicely paced, and it doesn't take long at all to read. What are you waiting for?

"The Striding Place" by Gertrude Atherton

Available to read for free, online here.
Rating: 3.5 Stars (Great)
Content: Ages 12+ for creepy events
Page Count: Approximately 25 pages
Year Published: 1896

Though this story does have a nice twist (and an abrupt ending, for that matter), the problem I have with it is that I've seen similar twists in more recent stories. At the time, this was probably as shocking a story as any of Edgar Allan Poe's works, but because of the multitude of horror movies we have nowadays it doesn't have the impact it should.

The Plot: A man goes looking for his lost friend.

There are elements in this story that made me hike the rating up, despite the twist being somewhat disappointing for me- the characters are as fully realized as those in short stories can be, their discussions are interesting, and I wasn't tempted to skim at all (which cannot be said for most of the M.R. James stories I read this year).

"The Striding Place" is an interesting story that has been unfortunately replicated by more modern mediums. It still has the element of surprise in its favor, but many modern readers may be able to guess the twist before it comes. However, if you're easily scared or have a vivid imagination, this will be enough of a scare for you this year.

Until Next Year,


  1. Well, I thought I was done with scary reading for this year, but I think I need to read The Pale Man. Ha ha. You hooked me. Hopefully I'll get to it today. :)

    1. I hope you enjoyed it. I think it still has a lot of relevance for this day and age. If only it were named The Orange Man...
      Thanks for stopping by and commenting, La La!
      ~Litha Nelle


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