Review From User :
Around the turn of he century, psychic detectives were all the rage in England. There was Max Carnacki, the creation of William Hope Hodgson, and also John Silence by Algernon Blackwood. His The Complete John Silence Stories is an admirable collection for the days and weeks approaching Halloween.
Rather than attempting to find a rational explanation for everything, which in the end would become merely annoying, Blackwood takes psychic phenomena as a given, but one that can be worked with using a combination of reason and deep empathy. All six of the stories in the collection are worth reading, though my favorites are "The Nemesis of Fire" and "Ancient Sorceries."
In this collection is a werewolf, a man who inhabits multi-dimensional worlds much to his chagrin, a purloined mummy, a haunting brought about by the ingestion of hasheesh, a dismaying invitation to a witches' sabbath, and an old school that has -- so to speak -- gone to the devil. And there is that Blackwood style, which is admirably suited to his subject matter:Personally, I was glad to be in the open air, for the atmosphere of the house was heavy with presentiment. The sense of impending disaster hung over all. Fear stalked the passages, and lurked in the corners of every room. It was a house haunted, but really haunted; not by some vague shadow of the dead, but by a definite though incalculable influence that was actively alive, and dangerous.There is some mummery, such as holding a letter to one's forehead to see if there is a feeling of heat. And there are some slips, such as a half moon following a day or two after a full moon. Still, these are mere cavils.
The most famous Blackwood story is the novelette entitled "The Willows," followed not far behind by "The Wendigo"; but I am beginning to think that from the best Blackwood to the worst is not so great a distance. There are few prolific authors about whom that could be said truthfully.
In the darkness of a vast cave system, cut off from the world for millennia, blind creatures hunt by sound. Then there is light, there are voices, and they feed… Swarming from their prison, they multiply and thrive. To scream, even to whisper, is to summon death.
Deaf for many years, Ally knows how to live in silence. Now, it is her family’s only chance of survival. To leave their home, to shun others, to find a remote haven where they can sit out the plague. But will it ever end? And what kind of world will be left?
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