Author Topic: It sets me on t'imaging things, see? - In praise of The Wendigo  (Read 387 times)

BlodwynPig

  • Throwing two dogs at a goblin
Algernon Blackwood, a titan of horror no?

I'd previously read The Willows and that blew me away, a melancholic story that oozes fear and mystery. However, it does rely slightly on some supernatural tropes that, whilst not diminishing the story, lessen the impact of the imagined world that it takes place in.

I picked up one of those cheap amazon books that are essentially photocopied bits of paper stuck together in a book with minimal care attention. This one, "Best Ghost Stories of Algernon Blackwood" is a misnomer but contains his most familiar works.

I'd heard that of his other tales, The Wendigo and The Empty House were probably his best. So I've started to read The Wendigo on my bus journeys to and from work and I'm only about 1/3 of the way through. This, together with William Hope Hodgson, epitomises first class horror writing - it's a few levels above Lovecraft's schlock fiction - it is rooted in something earthly and something horrific, whilst also leaning heavily on the horror trope "the unknown".

Even on a busy bus in broad daylight I feel myself thrust into the Canadian high forests, the vast wilderness of human-less silence and dread. I wish I was back there now, back there then. I've just reached the part where Défago gives voice to his concern (about the Wendigo), but all that went before was sheer stupefying anticipation of terror. It's so well written, you can hear the theme tune to The Thing brooding in the background, infrasound tendrils grabbing you by the nether regions and pulling, hard.

I can imagine it going only one way from here - a slow reveal and explosive ending (as with most horror) - but I hope I am pleasantly surprised and Blackwood chooses the darker path into the woods.

5*****

Twit 2

  • Just me and those big old waves rolling in
Re: It sets me on t'imaging things, see? - In praise of The Wendigo
« Reply #1 on: August 14, 2019, 12:50:04 PM »
Cheers for the write up cock, will put him on THE LIST. I haven’t finished getting through Ligotti’s stuff yet, but when I do I’ll no doubt be on the lookoute fore some wyrd fyctyon.

BlodwynPig

  • Throwing two dogs at a goblin
Re: It sets me on t'imaging things, see? - In praise of The Wendigo
« Reply #2 on: August 14, 2019, 12:53:46 PM »
Cheers for the write up cock, will put him on THE LIST. I haven’t finished getting through Ligotti’s stuff yet, but when I do I’ll no doubt be on the lookoute fore some wyrd fyctyon.

Great. I not only want to read it, I want to live it.

QDRPHNC, if you read this, get hold of The Wendigo and head up North with a tent.

Re: It sets me on t'imaging things, see? - In praise of The Wendigo
« Reply #3 on: August 14, 2019, 01:17:08 PM »
Even on a busy bus in broad daylight I feel myself thrust into the Canadian high forests, the vast wilderness of human-less silence and dread. I wish I was back there now, back there then.
5*****

It's funny you say this as I had the same experience - reading it on a bus in rush hour in summer and feeling chilled to the bone. I still remember the description in there of the wind turning over a solitary leaf.

Next you can read 'Sand' by him and if you're anything like me be bored to to tears by it. 'The Willows' and 'The Wendigo' were both incredible but I can't remember anything else having such a devastating impace. I did read them all when I wuz a young idiot though.

BlodwynPig

  • Throwing two dogs at a goblin
Re: It sets me on t'imaging things, see? - In praise of The Wendigo
« Reply #4 on: August 14, 2019, 05:33:37 PM »
It seems the reveal was the very next paragraph! A bit standard but its picked up the dread again after Simpson returns with his companions. Shame his other works are not to this standard

Pingers

  • I can produce 3,500 water voles a year if required
Re: It sets me on t'imaging things, see? - In praise of The Wendigo
« Reply #5 on: August 15, 2019, 12:15:27 AM »
The Man Whom the Trees Loved is brilliant. A windy day near the woods will never be the same again. It's in this

BlodwynPig

  • Throwing two dogs at a goblin
Re: It sets me on t'imaging things, see? - In praise of The Wendigo
« Reply #6 on: August 15, 2019, 08:57:22 AM »
The Man Whom the Trees Loved is brilliant. A windy day near the woods will never be the same again. It's in this

Thank you. Finished Wendigo this morning. Although some elements of the ending were again of the standard form, I did like the fact that Punk had FUCKING SCARPERED when Defargo returned to camp.

A while ago before myself and QDRPHNC travelled to Algonquin Park, I read up about the legend of the Wendigo, which is a true myth of the Algonquin people, albeit allegorical for the madness brought on by starvation and fatigue in lean years in the wilderness.

Sin Agog

  • Dogs fucked the pope; no fault of mine
Re: It sets me on t'imaging things, see? - In praise of The Wendigo
« Reply #7 on: August 17, 2019, 08:05:35 PM »
The Man Whom the Trees Loved is brilliant. A windy day near the woods will never be the same again. It's in this

Yeah, this is the one of his I remember most vividly.  You get the impression through all Blackwood's work that, to him, nature is like that gorgeous but mental ex he routinely goes back to for brief, explosive spells.  It only ends up causing him consternation and horror, but its beauty is too alluring to tie a knot on it for good.

Sin Agog

  • Dogs fucked the pope; no fault of mine
Re: It sets me on t'imaging things, see? - In praise of The Wendigo
« Reply #8 on: August 17, 2019, 08:12:43 PM »
That said, my favourite shit by him are the John Silence stories.  Seems like quite a few of the horror authors of the era had their own variation on the supernatural detective (well, at least William Hope Hodgson and Machen come to mind), but the John Silence stories are the best of the bunch.  Every one of them changes tone completely, from genuinely funny (not something you'd necessarily expect from Blackwood) to eerily beautiful, to one that even inspired the movie Cat People (although the story is way better).  Annoying that with Hollywood remaking itself for the last fifteen years, no one saw John Silence as a franchise hero in the making.

BlodwynPig

  • Throwing two dogs at a goblin
Re: It sets me on t'imaging things, see? - In praise of The Wendigo
« Reply #9 on: August 17, 2019, 11:58:26 PM »
I think i’ve read some Silence stories but i could be getting them mixed up with Hodgson

I read a petrifying ghost story in a ghost detective anthology that has me numb with fear. Sadly can’t remember the name.