Monday, October 9, 2017

Book Review | The Willows by Algernon Blackwood

The Willows is a novella by Algernon Blackwood

The Willows by Algernon Blackwood

Two friends are midway on a canoe trip down the Danube River. Throughout the story Blackwood personifies the surrounding environment—river, sun, wind—and imbues them with a powerful and ultimately threatening character. Most ominous are the masses of dense, desultory, menacing willows, which "moved of their own will as though alive, and they touched, by some incalculable method, my own keen sense of the horrible."

"The Willows" is one of Algernon Blackwood's best known short stories. American horror author H.P. Lovecraft considered it to be the finest supernatural tale in English literature. "The Willows" is an example of early modern horror and is connected within the literary tradition of weird fiction.

I've been sharing my journey with Lovecraft lately, but the story that brought me back to Lovecraft was Algernon Blackwood's The Willows. I wasn't planning to review The Willows, but it turned out to be such an awesome read I decided it really needed to be shared.

What struck me while reading The Willows was how much Blackwood's writing reminded me of H.G. Wells'. So much so that as soon as I finished reading The Willows I did a search to see if there were any essays comparing their work. What I found was Blackwood and Wells were friends. I don't know how that influenced their writing, but I thought it was interesting nonetheless.

In The Willows, two friends are taking a canoe trip up the river, and the rough water forces them stop for the night on an island among the willow trees.

The build up of tension (not to mention the personification of nature) made this an awesome read for me. I can't wait to dive into more of Blackwood's work in the future.

I was able to get my copy of The Willows free in the Kindle store. It's also available on Project Gutenberg and other places you can typically find these old classics.

9/10: Highly Recommended

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12 comments:

  1. Sounds like a really interesting read and I love the idea of the trees and am interested in seeing how that plays out. Glad you really enjoyed this one!

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    1. It is a pocket of nature I wouldn't want to happen upon. :)

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  2. This one sounds creepy. I'm intrigued. Is it a shorter story? I'm going to have to investigate.

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    1. It's long enough to be considered a novella I believe, but it's still short. It's a fast read.

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  3. I've never even heard of Algernon Blackwood. How sad is that?

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    1. I don't think he's written a whole lot. He's in that pocket of "weird fiction" writers. I'm thinking they are all more popular now than they were in their own time.

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  4. Sounds wonderfully creepy. I'm going to go and grab a copy.
    Lynn :D

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    1. Please let me know what you think if you get a chance to read it!

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  5. Replies
    1. It was so good. I was very excited about it. :)

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  6. The audiobook version of this is excellent too. I listened last year (or was it the year before?). I believe it was a free audible add-on when you "bought" the free copy from Amazon.

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  7. This looks great! I have been trying to read more classic books - I am adding this to my list!

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