Tuesday, January 7, 2014

The empty house and other ghost stories by Algernon Blackwood

Rating: .3.5/5
Finished On:6th of January 2014




The book is a collection of 10 ghost stories by Algernon Blackwood. The stories in the collection are:


The Empty House 3.5/5

Julia and her nephew Shorthouse decide to spend a night in an empty house which is notorious as a haunted place.

And yet this house in the square, that seemed precisely similar to its fifty ugly neighbours, was as a matter of fact entirely different- horribly different.
Wherein lay this marked, invisible difference is impossible to say. It cannot be ascribed wholly to the imagination, because persons who had spent time in the house, knowing nothing of the facts, had declared positively that certain rooms were so disagreeable they would rather die than enter them again, and that the atmosphere of the whole house produced in them symptoms of a genuine terror; while the series of innocent tenants who had tried to live in it and been forced to decamp at the shortest possible notice, was indeed little less than a scandal in the town.

Whether the house is really haunted and will they experience something thing supernatural there?? You'll have to read the story for this.
As for me i liked the story. The pacing was excellent and it was interspersed with ghostly scenes. Algernon had successfully created an atmosphere of dread and ghostly haunting.Following are the few lines from the story that i'm really sure will pique your interest.

There was not a stick of furniture to be seen. Bare walls, ugly mantel-pieces and empty grates stared at them. Everything, they felt, resented their intrusion, watching them, as it were, with veiled eyes; whispers followed them; shadows flitted noiselessly to right and left; something seemed ever at their back, watching, waiting an opportunity to do them injury.

In spite of the chilliness of the night there was something in the air that cried for an open window.

There was something that acted directly on the nerves, tiring the resolution, enfeebling the will.

Inside the house the silence became awful; awful, he thought, because any minute now it might be broken by sounds portending terror.

A Haunted Island 3/5

A settler visits an Island with an object of living a few solitary days and doing some reading. But after some days of peace some things change and reading is the last thing on his mind


I awoke after a good night's sleep to find myself possessed with a marked repugnance for my room. The air seemed to stifle me. The more i tried to define the cause of this dislike, the more unreasonable it appeared. There was something about the room that made me afraid.

.Is the island haunted or is it just that the loneliness has just started affecting him. It was an okay read not bad but not too great.

A Case of Eavesdropping 3.5/5

Another of the Jim shorthouse stories.  The story begins with thr following line  and it only compelled me to read further.
Jim Shorthouse was the sort of fellow who always made a mess of things.

Jim Shorthouse made many messes in his life. But when at the age of 22 he is rusticated for the second time; his father, weary of the messes,throws him out on the street. Jim having no money tries for a temporary job as a reporter and find for himself a place to live that he can afford.
He attracted to his path the curious adventures of life as unfailingly as meat attracts flies, and jam wasps.
Now what other mess will Jim Shorthouse lead himself to??
I loved the story.It was not because it was too scary but because it had its lighter moments. The story had supernatural elements but it made me laugh in some parts.

Keeping his Promise 3.5/5

We often make promises to our friends when we are children. But most of the time those promises are forgotten as we grow up. This story deals with these kind of promises. It was pretty predicable but  i still enjoyed it.It reminded me of an episode in a serial that i had seen long time back.

With Intent to Steal 2.5/5

Another of Jim Shorthouse stories. This is another of Jim Shorthouse adventures. In this case Jim is investigating a barn that's supposed to be haunted. The story is told by another person who accompanied him to the haunted barn.
The story was good. I liked reading it.

The Wood of the dead 2.5/5

A traveler is sitting at a village inn taking his supper when he's visited by a peculiar gentleman. This gentleman tells him about The wood of the dead. What is this wood and who is the gentleman???
The story was an average read. It was neither too great nor too bad. Did i regret reading it?No. Would i read it again??Yeah,probably.

Smith:An episode in a lodging-house 3/5

It was the first occult story of the collection. It was an okay read. As a medical student the narrator came across a rather eccentric person called Smith. This man used to live in the same lodging house as the narrator and seemed to possess knowledge about the narrator that was uncanny.

A suspicious gift  3.5/5

Arthur Herbert Blake is living in New York. He shares his accommodation with two other guys viz Dan and the frenchman. Out of the three only blake has a paying job and they are living a hand to mouth existence. Arthur tires to supplement his income by writing stories that rarely get published. On one day when the other two are out for a dinner, a strange visitor visits Arthur with a gift for him, Arthur gets suspicious. What is the gift?Who is the well wisher that has sent it? These questions boggle his mind. Did Arthur find his answers? For that you'll have to read the story. 
It was a pretty interesting story seeing at the time it was written. Now, I found it a little predictable but inspite of that it was a decent read.  

The strange secretary of a private secretary in new york 3/5

This was another of Jim Shorthouse adventures but in this one there was no supernatural entity present. Jonas Sidebotham, employer of Jim Shorthouse, ask him to go to his previous partner for a personal purpose. Jim sees  it as an opportunity to do a personal favor to his boss which could result in increased wages. Little does he knows what's is in store for him.

This was a decent read. The absence of supernatural doesn't mars the quality of the story. It held my interest till the end.

Skeleton Lake: An Episode in Camp 1.5/5

A group of people decide to camp in the skeleton lake. What happens in the camp???
To be really frank, it was one of the weakest story in the book. I didn't like it. There was nothing supernatural about it and it was not that interesting to read.IMHO this shouldn't be placed in the last. It leaves kinda bad taste. I would not recommend reading it at least not in the end.   

Overall,the book was a nice read . There were some great stories like the empty house, a case of eaves dropping,a suspicious gift and rest were decent ones. The only story i didn't like was the last one.
It was a different Algernon Blackwood read for me. i have read his The willows and the damned and in both of them there was never known cause of dread but a kind of unknown terror. And in these stories there were ghosts or apparation that were often visible to the victim.
All in all it was a nice collection of stories.
The book is in public domain and you can freely download it by visiting the following links:

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