THE DAMNED BY ALGERNON BLACKWOOD
PROJECT GUTENBERG (E-BOOK), 2004
I downloaded this free e-book: HTTP://WWW.GUTENBERG.ORG/EBOOKS/11074.
BLURB FROM THE COVER
And instinctively, once alone, I made for the places where she had painted her extraordinary pictures; I tried to see what she had seen. Perhaps, now that she had opened my mind to another view, I should be sensitive to some similar interpretation–and possibly by way of literary expression. If I were to write about the place, I asked myself, how should I treat it? I deliberately invited an interpretation in the way that came easiest to me–writing.
“I’m over forty, Frances, and rather set in my ways,” I said good-naturedly, ready to yield if she insisted that our going together on the visit involved her happiness. “My work is rather heavy just now too, as you know. The question is, could I work there—with a lot of unassorted people in the house?”
“Mabel doesn’t mention any other people, Bill,” was my sister’s rejoinder. “I gather she’s alone—as well as lonely.”
By the way she looked sideways out of the window at nothing, it was obvious she was disappointed, but to my surprise she did not urge the point; and as I glanced at Mrs. Franklyn’s invitation lying upon her sloping lap, the neat, childish handwriting conjured up a mental picture of the banker’s widow, with her timid, insignificant personality, her pale grey eyes and her expression as of a backward child. I thought, too, of the roomy country mansion her late husband had altered to suit his particular needs, and of my visit to it a few years ago when its barren spaciousness suggested a wing of Kensington Museum fitted up temporarily as a place to eat and sleep in. Comparing it mentally with the poky Chelsea flat where I and my sister kept impecunious house, I realized other points as well. Unworthy details flashed across me to entice: the fine library, the organ, the quiet work-room I should have, perfect service, the delicious cup of early tea, and hot baths at any moment of the day—without a geyser!
This was my first time reading Algernon Blackwood. I really enjoyed The Damned. Blackwood offers a traditional ghost story. If you’re looking for blood and guts and monsters you won’t find any in this novella. The Damned is creepy and unsettling. The narrator repeats ‘nothing happens’ regularly and to an extent this is true. It’s the possibility of what could be lurking in the shadows that sends shivers down your spine. I’m not a huge fan of over-the-top horror with blood and guts and screaming demons all over the place. I find them crass at time. What I do love are stories that are unsettling, build suspense and ar so full of atmosphere they give you the chills. The Damned is one such tale. Blackwood is an expert at building suspense and tension and this momentum carried me all the way through The Damned as I wondered if the creepy house was haunted or the characters were unhinged in some way. The ending of The Damned was lacklustre though and a bit of a let-down after the great tension, creepiness and suspense built.