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The Whisperers and Other Stories ed. by Mike Ashley

5/5 - an incredible anthology of horror writing greatness...

By Annie KapurPublished 3 months ago 4 min read
From: Amazon

Full Title: The Whisperers and Other Stories: A Life in the Supernatural by Algernon Blackwood edited by Mike Ashley

And the darkness puzzled him. He remembered the absence of accustomed windows, but it was only when the candle-light brought close the face of his watch, with two o’clock upon it, that he heard the sound of confused whispering in the corners of the room, and realised with a little twinge of fear that those who whispered had just been standing beside his very bed. The room was full.

Algernon Blackwood's name is almost synonymous with the ghost story and the 'tales of the weird' have featured him often in their anthologies. His stories are more than often frightening and chilling works of the weird, dealing with nonbelievers of the supernatural being brought around to a new way of thinking through experience. A contemporary and successor to the writer M R James, Algernon Blackwood actually detested the idea that he was merely a one trick pony and so, shook it off by writing scripts and radio dramas as well as children's books. Algernon Blackwood though became one of the most prolific supernatural writers of the 20th century, more than often stating that his supernatural stories were more autobiographical than anything else. The Whisperers and Other Stories combines his best efforts into a beautiful copy of British Library brilliance.

Algernon Blackwood was, as we know, one of the foremost writers of the supernatural in the 20th century alongside authors such as HP Lovecraft and others. His work has served long sleepless nights very well and has often allowed the ghosts to venture into the lives of normal people.

From: Amazon

One of the stories I enjoyed thoroughly was called The Listener in which we have a man who is of questionable mind to begin with feeling the sense of a parasitic or demonic presence/spirit encroaching in on his life. Yes, it is one of those Algernon Blackwood tales complete with the parasitic spirit you all know and love from practically every other story in this anthology. However, I do not hear any complaints because they are all so well written. This one has a touch of the psychological.

It is very similar to other great tales by Algernon Blackwood such as The Willows which you will not, however, find in this particular anthology. There's a lot of common Algernon Blackwood tropes apart from the psychological aspect as well: the urban setting is one of them. Again, in his more famous ghost stories, this is of particular interest to the reader alongside the protagonist who seems to believe he is more intelligent than he actually is. This proves fruitless against the powers that be though, and he ends up going down the dark twisted slide into a mental breakdown. The lion-esque face in the dark only furthers this claim.

From: Amazon

Another story I enjoyed was the title story called The Whisperers. This involves a man who not only enjoys writing, but he seems to start off with an overactive imagination so, we can only picture what he is going to endure. Another one of those people who thinks they are smarter than they are serves as the main character for Algernon Blackwood's whisperings in the dark corner of the room. I personally liked it when he keeps hearing the whispering over and over again and then asks a seemingly blank space of the room 'who are you all?' - Algernon Blackwood's ability to make a seemingly empty room feel like there's no space to breathe let alone stand, is something of a talent of his. I love the opening line in this story especially as it sounds like the opening to something strange and unreal:

To be too impressionable is as much a source of weakness as to be hypersensitive: so many messages come flooding in upon one another that confusion is the result; the mind chokes, imagination grows congested.

All in all, I loved this British Library collection of one of the most prolific horror writers of the century and it really does go to prove that it was not just the high Victorian age that were having all the ghostly supernatural fun. This happened well into the war times.


About the Creator

Annie Kapur

200K+ Reads on Vocal.

English Lecturer

🎓Literature & Writing (B.A)

🎓Film & Writing (M.A)

🎓Secondary English Education (PgDipEd) (QTS)

📍Birmingham, UK

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  • Andrea Corwin 3 months ago

    Ah another one and some of your commentary gave me chills - creepy reads - I will try them but I have such a long list going///🙀

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