Algernon Blackwood’s “The Empty House And Other Ghost Stories” is a collection of 10 spooky tales, each one imbued with a sense of dread and unease that will linger with readers long after they’ve finished reading. The stories were originally published between 1906 and 1911 and are considered some of the best examples of supernatural horror from the early 20th century. In this review, we will explore each story and analyze their themes and effectiveness in delivering spine-tingling chills to readers.
Story 1: The Empty House
The titular story follows a group of friends who investigate a supposedly haunted house where a murder occurred years ago. The story sets the tone for the collection, with its vivid descriptions and eerie atmosphere. The story’s strength lies in its ability to build tension and suspense, leading readers to a satisfyingly chilling conclusion.
Story 2: A Haunted Island
In this story, a group of sailors become stranded on an island that is rumored to be haunted by the ghosts of the pirates who once roamed its shores. The story takes a more action-packed approach than some of the others in the collection, but still manages to maintain its sense of dread throughout. Blackwood’s descriptions of the island and its spectral inhabitants are vivid and creepy, making this one of the more memorable stories in the collection.
Story 3: A Case of Eavesdropping
“A Case of Eavesdropping” is a more psychological horror story, following a man who becomes obsessed with the sounds he hears coming from his neighbor’s apartment. The story is a slow burn, with Blackwood building tension through the protagonist’s increasing paranoia and sense of dread. The twist ending is both surprising and satisfying.
Story 4: Keeping His Promise
“Keeping His Promise” is a poignant story about a man who makes a promise to his dying friend to look after his wife and child. The story takes a supernatural turn when the ghost of the friend appears to the protagonist and demands that he fulfill his promise. The story is more melancholic than scary, but Blackwood’s prose is as beautiful as ever.
Story 5: With Intent to Steal
In this story, a man is hired to catalogue the belongings of a recently deceased hoarder. However, he soon discovers that some of the objects in the house may have sinister properties. “With Intent to Steal” is a slower-paced story that relies more on atmosphere than scares, but still manages to deliver a sense of unease throughout.
Story 6: The Wood of the Dead
“The Wood of the Dead” follows a group of friends who set out to explore a forest that is rumor to be haunt. The story is one of the more action-packed in the collection. With the friends encountering a host of supernatural entities in the woods. Blackwood’s descriptions of the creatures they encounter are vivid and unsettling.
Story 7: Smith
An Episode in a Lodging-House “Smith” is a more ambiguous story. Following a man who checks into a lodging-house. And becomes convinced that there is a supernatural presence in the room next door. The story’s strength lies in its ability to keep readers guessing, with the ending leaving things open to interpretation.
Story 8: A Suspicious Gift
In “A Suspicious Gift,” a man inherits a cursed painting from his uncle that seems to have a sinister hold over him. The story is one of the most straightforward in the collection. With Blackwood delivering a satisfyingly creepy tale that will keep readers on the edge of their seats.
Story 9: The Strange Adventures of a Private Secretary
The Strange Adventures of a Private Secretary in New York” follows a man who is hire to be a private secretary for a wealthy businessman. However, he soon discovers that his new employer may have dealings with the supernatural. The story is one of the more fast-paced in the collection. With Blackwood delivering a thrilling tale that is sure to keep readers engaged.
Story 10: Skeleton Lake:
An Episode in Camp The final story in the collection, “Skeleton Lake: An Episode in Camp.” Follows a group of friends on a camping trip who discover a lake that is rumor to be haunt. The story is one of the most atmospheric in the collection. With Blackwood’s descriptions of the lake and its surroundings painting a vivid and eerie picture.
“The Empty House And Other Ghost Stories” is a fantastic collection of spooky tales that will satisfy any horror fan. Blackwood’s prose is evocative and chilling, and his ability to build tension and suspense is masterful. While some of the stories may be slower-pace than others. Each one delivers a sense of unease and dread that will linger with readers long after they’ve finished reading. Highly recommended for anyone looking for a good scare