Gorgeously written tale of a child’s initiation into next stage of life, of self-sacrificing love, of facing the guardian of the threshold and escaping the prison of one’s own making. It is more than a little reminiscent of George MacDonald latter, more esoteric novels though I’d say that it is definitely more accessible, more instantly enjoyable than, say, MacDonald’s “Lilith”.
This is not, mainly, a horror novel: it is filled with disconcerting dream-imagery and has its share of horror-inducing moments, but there is as much, if not more, warmth and beauty in here, and the tale is ultimately a positive one. Like his contemporary, Machen, Blackwood is cursed by being remembered primarily as a horror writer when that constitutes only a limited portion of what he did.
I can, to a point, agree with those who wrote that this novel would‘ve benefited greatly from the removal of some extraneous fat (this is more of less tue of all of Blackwood‘s novels that I’ve read), but his prose – beautiful, energetic and playful – makes up for it. One never feels like one is wasting time when reading Blackwood in this mode – right up from the nostalgic descriptions in the opening chapters, filled with child‘s animistic view of the surrounding world, you can feel the joy he felt in the very act of writing.
This book was converted from its physical edition to the digital format by a community of volunteers. You may find it for free on the web. Purchase of the Kindle edition includes wireless delivery.
About the Author
Algernon Blackwood (1869-1951) was born into a well-to-do Kentish family. His parents, converts to a Calvinistic sect, led an austere life, ill-suited to their dreamy and sensitive son. During adolescence, he became fascinated by hypnotism and the supernatural and, on leaving university, studied Hindu philosophy and occultism. Later, he was to draw on these beliefs and experiences in his writing. Sent away to Canada at the age of twenty, his attempts at making a living were wholly unsuccessful and shortly after his return to England, he began to write. The Empty House and Other Ghost Stories, published in 1906, was followed by a series of psychic detective stories, featuring John Silence, 'physician extraordinary'. His reputation as one of the greatest exponents of supernatural fiction began to grow. Chiefly known for his ghost stories, Blackwood wrote in many different forms within the genre. His most personal works, however, are his 'mystical' novels, for example The Centaur, where he explores man's empathy with the forces of the universe. Blackwood also wrote children's fiction. A Prisoner in Fairyland was adapted into the play (later the musical), Starlight Express. Later in life, Blackwood turned to writing radio plays, and in 1947 he began a new career on BBC TV telling ghost stories. He received a knighthood in 1949.