Hot Best Seller

The Willows (eBook)

Availability: Ready to download

Algernon Henry Blackwood, (1869 -1951) was an English writer of supernatural fiction. Blackwood was also a journalist and a broadcasting narrator. Blackwood had a varied career, farming in Canada, operating a hotel, a newspaper reporter in New York, and essayist for various periodicals. His works included ten collections of short stories, fourteen novels, children's storie Algernon Henry Blackwood, (1869 -1951) was an English writer of supernatural fiction. Blackwood was also a journalist and a broadcasting narrator. Blackwood had a varied career, farming in Canada, operating a hotel, a newspaper reporter in New York, and essayist for various periodicals. His works included ten collections of short stories, fourteen novels, children's stories, and several plays. Many of his stories reflect his love of nature and the outdoors. His two best-known stories are "The Willows" and "The Wendigo." An excerpt from The Willows reads "They first became properly visible, these huge figures, just within the tops of the bushes -- immense, bronze-colored, moving, and wholly independent of the swaying of the branches. I saw them plainly and noted, now I came to examine them more calmly, that they were very much larger than human, and indeed that something in their appearance proclaimed them to be not human at all. Certainly they were not merely the moving tracery of the branches against the moonlight. They shifted independently. They rose upwards in a continuous stream from earth to sky, vanishing utterly as soon as they reached the dark of the sky. They were interlaced one with another, making a great column, and I saw their limbs and huge bodies melting in and out of each other, forming this serpentine line that bent and swayed and twisted spirally with the contortions of the wind-tossed trees. They were nude, fluid shapes, passing up the bushes, within the leaves almost - rising up in a living column into the heavens. Their faces I never could see. Unceasingly they poured upwards, swaying in great bending curves, with a hue of dull bronze upon their skins . . .. For the longer I looked the more certain I became that these figures were real and living, though perhaps not according to the standards that the camera and the biologist would insist upon."


Compare

Algernon Henry Blackwood, (1869 -1951) was an English writer of supernatural fiction. Blackwood was also a journalist and a broadcasting narrator. Blackwood had a varied career, farming in Canada, operating a hotel, a newspaper reporter in New York, and essayist for various periodicals. His works included ten collections of short stories, fourteen novels, children's storie Algernon Henry Blackwood, (1869 -1951) was an English writer of supernatural fiction. Blackwood was also a journalist and a broadcasting narrator. Blackwood had a varied career, farming in Canada, operating a hotel, a newspaper reporter in New York, and essayist for various periodicals. His works included ten collections of short stories, fourteen novels, children's stories, and several plays. Many of his stories reflect his love of nature and the outdoors. His two best-known stories are "The Willows" and "The Wendigo." An excerpt from The Willows reads "They first became properly visible, these huge figures, just within the tops of the bushes -- immense, bronze-colored, moving, and wholly independent of the swaying of the branches. I saw them plainly and noted, now I came to examine them more calmly, that they were very much larger than human, and indeed that something in their appearance proclaimed them to be not human at all. Certainly they were not merely the moving tracery of the branches against the moonlight. They shifted independently. They rose upwards in a continuous stream from earth to sky, vanishing utterly as soon as they reached the dark of the sky. They were interlaced one with another, making a great column, and I saw their limbs and huge bodies melting in and out of each other, forming this serpentine line that bent and swayed and twisted spirally with the contortions of the wind-tossed trees. They were nude, fluid shapes, passing up the bushes, within the leaves almost - rising up in a living column into the heavens. Their faces I never could see. Unceasingly they poured upwards, swaying in great bending curves, with a hue of dull bronze upon their skins . . .. For the longer I looked the more certain I became that these figures were real and living, though perhaps not according to the standards that the camera and the biologist would insist upon."

30 review for The Willows (eBook)

  1. 4 out of 5

    Henry Avila

    H. P. Lovecraft called "The Willows", by Algernon Blackwood a great name by the way, the "best weird tale of all time", you be the judge ... In the early part of the Twentieth Century, two experienced young adventurers decided to take a canoe trip, down the famous Danube River during the summer, how glorious. Starting from its beginning in the Black Forest to the end, when the river reaches the Black Sea (a distant 2,000 miles away). The "Swede" and the narrator, remain anonymous throughout the H. P. Lovecraft called "The Willows", by Algernon Blackwood a great name by the way, the "best weird tale of all time", you be the judge ... In the early part of the Twentieth Century, two experienced young adventurers decided to take a canoe trip, down the famous Danube River during the summer, how glorious. Starting from its beginning in the Black Forest to the end, when the river reaches the Black Sea (a distant 2,000 miles away). The "Swede" and the narrator, remain anonymous throughout the book. They have gone on similar adventures together often, at first going everything's a lot of fun, camping outside, eating over a hot fire, living under a cozy tent, seeing the beautiful calm river flow by. Until they are between the cities of Vienna and Budapest, a swampy area full of willow bushes, sticking their heads above the flooding stream, as the friends travel through. No people but themselves there, watching the Danube rising over both banks, landing on an island after a vigorous effort, the two plan to rest on overnight. Slowly the unnamed narrator begins to feel uneasy, something alarming, the power of nature how little we can do against it ... And the willow bushes everywhere, mile after mile, always moving like animals ready to attack, sucking the mighty river dry. But even more a different world exists, a hidden area, an evil place where we can't get to but know it's there. Doomed, both men see, in their eyes but don't say a word to each other, they know nothing will save them in this remote isle. Are those dark shapes ... going over the willow shrubs? And disappearing ... The wind blows hard, an inhuman sound arrives, gets closer, above and around the friends the island is sinking, as the river rises. The canoe somehow is found with a hole in the bottom, they have crossed the forbidden zone. In the night, the fire is dying...Something is coming for them, soon....

  2. 5 out of 5

    Stephen

    I am a big fan of Horror, including the classics, but I feel like massive POSER having just now experienced for the first time Algernon Blackwood’s inspiring novella of otherworldly dread. This is simply such a superbly crafted tale that it is not hard to see why H.P. Lovecraft (whose work I love) called this the best supernatural tale in the English language. As HPL himself put it: Here art and restraint in narrative reach their very highest development, and an impression of lasting poignanc I am a big fan of Horror, including the classics, but I feel like massive POSER having just now experienced for the first time Algernon Blackwood’s inspiring novella of otherworldly dread. This is simply such a superbly crafted tale that it is not hard to see why H.P. Lovecraft (whose work I love) called this the best supernatural tale in the English language. As HPL himself put it: Here art and restraint in narrative reach their very highest development, and an impression of lasting poignancy is produced without a single strained passage or a single false note. Um, uh...yeah, what he said. While I would certainly include Lovecraft’s own work in the discussion of English Lit’s finest dread delivery systems, this atmospheric corker certainly makes the short list. He made my manliness sweat. The Willows opens with two friends on a canoe trip down the Danube River between Vienna and Budapest where they enter an area described by our narrator as “a region of singular loneliness and desolation...covered by a vast sea of low willow-bushes.” In the very first sentence of the story, Blackwood has given us the characters, the set up and already begun to imbue the story with a sense of dread. That’s quite an impressive opening. The pair are eventually forced onto a sandy island by rough waters and here begins an ordeal that absolutely defines the slow, steady creation of increasing dread and horror through subtlety and understated language. If you will forgive the reference, it reminded me a bit of the method used in “The Blair Witch Project” (which I greatly enjoyed) in so far as the events are never entirely clear....BUT YOU KNOW SOMETHING’S VERY WRONG!! One of the many things Blackwood does so very effectively is his infusion of almost human-like qualities into his description of the environmental features existing in the story. For example, early on he describes the Danube as follows: Sleepy at first, but later developing violent desires as it became conscious of its deep soul, it rolled, like some huge fluid being, through all the countries we had passed, holding our little craft on its mighty shoulders, playing roughly with us sometimes, yet always friendly and well-meaning, till at length we had come inevitably to regard it as a Great Personage. That is just deliciously epic prose spilling onto the page. Once stranded, everything surrounding the pair of increasingly nervous adventurers begins to display a sort of anthropomorphic character and very little of it is friendly. Blackwood is particularly effective when describing the titular object of the story: The [Willows] kept up a sort of independent movement of their own, rustling among themselves when no wind stirred, and shaking oddly from the roots upwards. When common objects in this way be come charged with the suggestion of horror, they stimulate the imagination far more than things of unusual appearance; and these bushes, crowding huddled about us, assumed for me in the darkness a bizarre grotesquerie of appearance that lent to them somehow the aspect of purposeful and living creatures. Their very ordinariness, I felt, masked what was malignant and hostile to us. The forces of the region drew nearer with the coming of night. They were focusing upon our island, and more particularly upon ourselves. For thus, somehow, in the terms of the imagination, did my really indescribable sensations in this extraordinary place present themselves.We are talking about Willows here...WILLOWS...and yet Blackwood has me in full on creep out at this point. By this time, my goosebumps had gone condo and I had basically resigned myself that some nameless horror was going to ice me before the end of the story. Eventually the two become convinced that the place they have been “brought” is a nexus between our world and the world of nameless, immensely powerful beings the likes of which mankind has no conception. Apparitions, strange occurrences, unusual tracks in the sand and bizarre noises that seem to register not in the ear but deep inside the brain. All of this creates tension that is palpable and it made even my brain shiver. Algernon handles all of this tension and build up beautifully and steers the narrative to a climax that is perfectly suited to the story and leaves the reader very satisfied (if you consider a sack of tear-stained jelly satisfied). I thought it was a tremendous piece of literature and showed Blackwood as a master of language, pace and narrative tension. I am looking forward to devouring more of his work in the very near future. 4.5 to 5.0 stars. HIGHEST POSSIBLE RECOMMENDATION!!!

  3. 4 out of 5

    Bobby Underwood

    Published in the early 1900s as part of a collection of stories, H.P. Lovecraft felt that Algernon Blackwood’s The Willows was simply the greatest tale of the supernatural in English literature. It is a novella, and has a bare minimum of dialog between the narrator and his good friend, the Swede. It lacks the blood and gore and violence so endemic of horror today, and yet despite what some would consider handicaps, The Willows is one of the most atmospheric books in the genre you will ever read. Published in the early 1900s as part of a collection of stories, H.P. Lovecraft felt that Algernon Blackwood’s The Willows was simply the greatest tale of the supernatural in English literature. It is a novella, and has a bare minimum of dialog between the narrator and his good friend, the Swede. It lacks the blood and gore and violence so endemic of horror today, and yet despite what some would consider handicaps, The Willows is one of the most atmospheric books in the genre you will ever read. I had heard of this author but never read him, now I can’t imagine not reading some of his other work, and very soon. The tale begins with two men on a canoe trip down the Danube. Their destination barely comes into play in this most elegantly written masterpiece of sustained atmosphere. The farther they get along the rising river as a storm approaches, they each begin to realize something is wrong. In these remote wilds, an eerie foreboding sets in that the protagonist conveys to the reader in elegant prose. The willows along the river manifest strange movements, independent of the fierce winds assaulting the small island where he and the Swede have camped for the night. The howls are sounds outside of humanity, and the protagonist fights the feeling that they have somehow stumbled into a border between the known world, and one which is unaware of them — as yet. This is so fabulous it is difficult to give readers a sense of how good it is. Nor do I want to give away some of the surprises or the ending. While the Swede is painted as practical and perhaps not as bright as his companion at first, eventually their roles become reversed. The narrator discovers the Swede has accepted the supernatural circumstances they’ve found themselves in, and knows they must not be discovered, lest they become a sacrifice. Truly a tale of the supernatural, and the boundary between this world and another, you’ll probably never read anything else like The Willows. I would not say that The Willows is scary, nor does it contain any shocking moments, rather it is a quiet and meticulously crafted tale of being alone and isolated, cut off from the rest of the world, and finding something in the darkness, in the surroundings, that is alive. I can’t recommend this highly enough. I suspect many modern readers might not enjoy it as much as I did, its horror unseen and merely suggested. But those who love elegant writing and a memorable, atmospheric tale certainly will. A masterpiece.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Luvtoread

    What a beautifully written atmospheric and creepy story this was. Timeless in the quality of the eerie telling of this fine strange tale. It is a short story yet it leaves you satisfied without the need for a lengthy book. Very imaginative writing weaves a slow and steady building of a foreboding element of fear that the characters are experiencing, which transfers over to the reader. This is a story not to be missed if you enjoy a classic eerie and creepy type of horror read. I highly recommend What a beautifully written atmospheric and creepy story this was. Timeless in the quality of the eerie telling of this fine strange tale. It is a short story yet it leaves you satisfied without the need for a lengthy book. Very imaginative writing weaves a slow and steady building of a foreboding element of fear that the characters are experiencing, which transfers over to the reader. This is a story not to be missed if you enjoy a classic eerie and creepy type of horror read. I highly recommend this great tale and have rated it 4 1/2 🌟🌟🌟🌟✴ Scary Stars!!

  5. 4 out of 5

    J.L. Sutton

    Loved Algernon Blackwood's The Willows! Everything about the wilderness the protagonists travel through exudes creepiness. This wilderness infects those who travel through it with dread and a sense of foreboding. For those who are paranoid that the world is out to get them, this story will confirm all your fears! I highly recommend this novella!

  6. 5 out of 5

    mark monday

    ...something so big and yet immaterial, out of reach and yet reaching for you; two men on a canoe trip down the Danube - what wonders! what beauty! what bliss! - find there are worlds and things beyond us, terrible and awe-inspiring things, inexplicable things, things that rise from the willows, things that bore spiraled holes in sand and flesh; Blackwood an author who embraces nature, its wonders and beauty, its terrible terrors; Blackwood an author who searches for new dimensions, places beyon ...something so big and yet immaterial, out of reach and yet reaching for you; two men on a canoe trip down the Danube - what wonders! what beauty! what bliss! - find there are worlds and things beyond us, terrible and awe-inspiring things, inexplicable things, things that rise from the willows, things that bore spiraled holes in sand and flesh; Blackwood an author who embraces nature, its wonders and beauty, its terrible terrors; Blackwood an author who searches for new dimensions, places beyond reach and yet reaching for us; Blackwood an author, a poet, like a Thoreau, hallucinating; two men quivering in their tent, one striving for rationality and finding hollow reasons and imperfect logic, the other understanding - but understanding what? - and with that understanding, that knowledge, comes its own terrible logic: the need for a sacrifice; things that amaze, that mystify and strike fear and cause worship, things that rend your canoe, that take your possessions, things that patter around your tent and touch its surface and press invisibly upon you, things that search for the little humans that have wandered in their midst...

  7. 4 out of 5

    Lyn

    Blackwood was a master of setting and intimate characterization. Using a minimalistic approach to casting and dialogue, he nonetheless was able to create a scene of almost photographic understanding and omniscience. Like The Wendigo, The Willows personifies elements of nature to create a chilling, supernatural tale of gothic, psychological horror. This story delved more deeply into weird fiction and readers of H.P. Lovecraft will recognize themes present. This is a very good story by itself and Blackwood was a master of setting and intimate characterization. Using a minimalistic approach to casting and dialogue, he nonetheless was able to create a scene of almost photographic understanding and omniscience. Like The Wendigo, The Willows personifies elements of nature to create a chilling, supernatural tale of gothic, psychological horror. This story delved more deeply into weird fiction and readers of H.P. Lovecraft will recognize themes present. This is a very good story by itself and an exceptional tale for this genre, modern writers would do well to find inspiration in Blackwood's style.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Bark

    This review and the rest of the crap I write can be seen @ my blog Bark's Book Nonsense . Stop by and say hey. Reading for HA's December Group Read. Actually, I'll be listening. The book was free @ Amazon and the audio add-on only $2.99. Bargain! I decided to read this on audio since it was cheap and I have too many Netgalley books that I should be reading. If you follow my reviews, you probably know I have very little patience for slow starters and this is most definitely a slow starter. Fortuna This review and the rest of the crap I write can be seen @ my blog Bark's Book Nonsense . Stop by and say hey. Reading for HA's December Group Read. Actually, I'll be listening. The book was free @ Amazon and the audio add-on only $2.99. Bargain! I decided to read this on audio since it was cheap and I have too many Netgalley books that I should be reading. If you follow my reviews, you probably know I have very little patience for slow starters and this is most definitely a slow starter. Fortunately when it comes to audio, I can and will usually stick it out. Sometimes it pays off, sometimes it doesn’t. This time it did and it’s given me one more reason to add to my “Why I’ll Never Go Camping Again” list. The beginning is filled with an abundance of descriptive prose. The first hour basically sets the scene for the nightmarish dreamlike conclusion. Two friends head out on a canoeing adventure ignoring, and slightly oblivious to, all of the warning signs that they should go ANYWHERE but where they’re headed. They set up camp somewhere on a small island. Unfortunately they’ve chosen the wrong location. As the eeriness continues to settle in, I found it absorbing and a little terrifying and even slightly humorous as one of our protagonists attempts to make excuses for everything happening to them – even though we know he doesn’t really believe any of his own words. It’s worth a listen. The narrator is very proper and keeps things moving despite the sometimes slow pace of the narrative and though it ends too abruptly for my liking it did give me a decent case of the creeps.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Greg

    I began the long journey from my computer desk to my futon/couch/bed in order to partake in reading the next story from the devilish collection of unspeakable horrors that some have dared call The Weird, but which I will not even give name to in fear of invoking the ire of the those powers beyond the imagination of man. I dreaded the walk. The dirty clothes on the floor screamed out in soundless horror at me, and even though I knew it was just my Spazz t-shirt and some dirty socks, and I told my I began the long journey from my computer desk to my futon/couch/bed in order to partake in reading the next story from the devilish collection of unspeakable horrors that some have dared call The Weird, but which I will not even give name to in fear of invoking the ire of the those powers beyond the imagination of man. I dreaded the walk. The dirty clothes on the floor screamed out in soundless horror at me, and even though I knew it was just my Spazz t-shirt and some dirty socks, and I told myself, dirty Spazz t-shirts do not scream soundless terror, it must just be the stench rising up from the cotton making vibrations on my ear that make me hear these noises but I began to fear in the depths of my soul, in the spot all men carry the despair of unknown terrors that my state of the art scientific explanations would be no good here. It didn't help my composure one bit when my faithful traveling companion Mooncheese got bored with my long walk of four feet and went to slumber with the devious dreams that only nature can provide and that man can only stare wide-eyed in horror at even a thought about what they might contain. I rested on my arduous journey and found myself urinating in my pants, something we can not call fear, for all men would urinate themselves, and some even do worse if they heard the rumbling noise of the passing 7 train outside their window. I am no believer in ghosts, but how else can I explain the train's sudden arrival at this moment when all sort of unspeakable horrors were conspiring to drive me mad? I near gave up hope. I considered shooting myself in the face with the small pistol I carry on journeys like this one. I should have, but my fear that those which I can not understand would capture my fleeing soul, and make for a fate worse than death caused me to carry on. And I sat on my cheap piece of shit furniture, a tailsman I believe can ward off anything living or dead from joining me. I thought I was safe as I opened the massive tome and I read the words in front of me, but to my horror I found myself trying to pry myself from the grips of madness and I found myself shrieking out loud in a laughter the most hideous banshees would never stoop to make. "They have gone and done it again! They have changed all the words from story I've read and left me with something that I can sort of barely tolerate but doesn't have any of the awesomeness that other reviewers and readers must see! Damn you Lovecraft and your elder gods who will never let me enjoy the stories that you let everyone else enjoy. Damn you!" And that's the story of me reading this story.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Maciek

    The Willows is Algernon Blackwood's most famous story, and one which H.P. Lovecraft listed as his personal favorite of all weird tales. Two men - the unnamed narrator and his friend, known only as "The Swede" - travel on a canoe across the Danube. The river begins somewhere in the German Black Forest and stretches across the continent, before finally emptying into the Black Sea. The two adventurous men plan to traverse through its whole length, following the steps of the ancient Roman emperors, The Willows is Algernon Blackwood's most famous story, and one which H.P. Lovecraft listed as his personal favorite of all weird tales. Two men - the unnamed narrator and his friend, known only as "The Swede" - travel on a canoe across the Danube. The river begins somewhere in the German Black Forest and stretches across the continent, before finally emptying into the Black Sea. The two adventurous men plan to traverse through its whole length, following the steps of the ancient Roman emperors, but their plans go awry; somewhere at the end of Austria the river floods, and the current carries them deep into Hungary, to uninhabited wilderness. They decide to not risk further travel across the bursting river, and outwait the flood on a small, sandy island. There's nothing and no one to be seen anywhere, except for acres and acres of willow bushes - the sheer amount of which strikes the narrator as sinister. Both the narrator and the Swede see a strange otter-like creature floating down the river, turning over and over; shortly afterwards they see what looks like a boat being carried down the river at enormous speed, with a man inside who seems to be shouting at them and making the sign of the cross. The narrator becomes more and more disquieted as he observes the willows all around him; he senses them closing in, as if organizes as a unknown, hostile force. It's not difficult to see why Lovecraft would pick this particular story as his favorite - the theme that he would later explore in his fiction is right here: the sense of something infinitely strange just beyond the border of our comprehension, and its hostility towards us. Borders between these worlds, and we might stumble upon them by accident and be sucked in. Characters in The Willows have no idea what is affecting them, as all they see are the endless willow bushes - and therefore have no way of effectively resisting the terror, something which they perceive to be truly out of this world. This is a classic story and a must read for anyone interested in the development of horror and weird-fiction. Although it's considered by many to be Blackwood's best and is easily his most known, if I had to choose I'd pick his other important story - The Wendigo, purely because of my personal preference. The two stories are short, and both can be read in a single sitting - and like The Wendigo, The Willows is in public domain and available via legal download. Grab an excellent copy from Feedbooks and indulge: http://www.feedbooks.com/book/1065/th...

  11. 4 out of 5

    Erin *Proud Book Hoarder*

    Um. This one is hard to decide on rating-wise. Pros: Loved the writing style - it was beautiful, clever, haunting and heady stuff. He writes so well I'll definitely check out more of his work. Atmosphere - So thick you could cut a knife with it. Outstanding tension, creepy tone, I can hear the humming and picture the swaying willows...Atmosphere is the top redeeming quality for this story. If you think of 'The Willows', this is what a reader will probably remember first. Characters - I enjoyed the t Um. This one is hard to decide on rating-wise. Pros: Loved the writing style - it was beautiful, clever, haunting and heady stuff. He writes so well I'll definitely check out more of his work. Atmosphere - So thick you could cut a knife with it. Outstanding tension, creepy tone, I can hear the humming and picture the swaying willows...Atmosphere is the top redeeming quality for this story. If you think of 'The Willows', this is what a reader will probably remember first. Characters - I enjoyed the two friends who traveled to a beautiful place to meet a nightmare. They complimented each other with their differences, spending some time trying to convince either themselves or the other that they were wrong that there was something out there. It was told through the POV singular, and the lead was an interesting man because he was intelligent but fond of self-delusion for the sake of peace. He also had a small dose of humor in his thoughts at times. The Willows are, of course, another cool trait of the story. Who doesn't love Willow trees? Cons: Too abrupt an ending, I wanted to know the small things that happened next, like their fate. Sometimes too muddled/confusing. I know the writing style, the atmosphere, the gothic terror tone, were all weaved together to make a story that is surreal and messes with your head...but sometimes it was overdone a bit much and I'm still not sure of everything that went on with the ending explanation. Not that much happens other than tone and their instincts - a few small events but nothing too huge. Overall it's a great short story that reads like a gothic atmospheric dream. A great introduction to Blackwood - Again, the name Algernon Blackwood is so cool the man SHOULD be remembered by that alone (sounds like a noir detective or something) - and I've heard he has even better stuff out there. Will definitely hunt that treasure down.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Rachel

    Um so this was kinda the scariest thing I've ever read.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Ivan

    Vendigo 4 stars The Willows 5 stars Descent to Egypt 4 stars

  14. 5 out of 5

    Em Lost In Books

    Strange. Dreamy. Chilling. Vivid imagination. Creepy at times. Kind of story that would make you keep looking over your shoulder from time to time to check if there was someone looking at you from distance or the sound that you heard just now was real or part of your imagination. Excellent!

  15. 4 out of 5

    Lena

    One day, not so long ago, two stoners went camping and smoked one bowl too many. They forgot that in the wilderness what seems idyllic during the day... ...will look differently at night. Every sound a dreadful otherworldly whisper, every bush a demon: oh yes, they are tripping hard. But manfully they attempt to ignore it by talking about other things. Too bad one friend chooses this moment to confess his psychic ability to sense trans dimensional demons. What the hell do you say to that? Clearly One day, not so long ago, two stoners went camping and smoked one bowl too many. They forgot that in the wilderness what seems idyllic during the day... ...will look differently at night. Every sound a dreadful otherworldly whisper, every bush a demon: oh yes, they are tripping hard. But manfully they attempt to ignore it by talking about other things. Too bad one friend chooses this moment to confess his psychic ability to sense trans dimensional demons. What the hell do you say to that? Clearly late night forest confessions are a violation of Guy Code. The man damn of fear has broken leaving the two guys like... It's not a pretty site. This classic short story started off slow as molasses in January but picked up speed. It's good to remember the old adage that just because you're paranoid does not mean they're not out to get you! :)

  16. 4 out of 5

    Dannii Elle

    This was an intensely chilling and atmospheric little read. The entire story was based on one, small, almost uninhabited island and the interactions were between only two individuals. And yet this did not need anything more when the landscape played such a large, central focus and enhanced the eerie qualities of the piece to overwhelmingly terrifying proportions!

  17. 4 out of 5

    J.G. Keely

    This most famous work of Blackwood's is one of those classic short stories of weird horror mentioned alongside pieces by Lovecraft, Howard, Machen, Bierce, and Chambers as worthy of even a discerning reader. Like many such stories, it starts somewhat slowly, establishing first that picture of normal life from which we must soon, and by gradations, deviate beyond recall. I grew to feel it may have been a bit too slow--though it is always difficult to strike such a balance. So much of the story wa This most famous work of Blackwood's is one of those classic short stories of weird horror mentioned alongside pieces by Lovecraft, Howard, Machen, Bierce, and Chambers as worthy of even a discerning reader. Like many such stories, it starts somewhat slowly, establishing first that picture of normal life from which we must soon, and by gradations, deviate beyond recall. I grew to feel it may have been a bit too slow--though it is always difficult to strike such a balance. So much of the story was carried on the particular delivery of the concept, so I'm not convinced that quite so much preparation was really necessary. But then, Blackwood does sometimes struggle with delivery, falling back on repetition to ensure that his points come across, which makes sense for an author writing in an experimental genre for a wide serial audience and who may be concerned about coming off as too obscure--but whether it was a bit of long-windedness on his part or editorial preference I cannot say. In any event, after the setup is complete and we start descending into the otherworldly, the story starts to pick up pace, and by the time the concept is laid before us, I was deeply impressed by the insight and imagination with which the thing is handled. The presentation of the uncanny is so complete, so infectious, and so grand in its implications that I am hard-pressed to compare it to any other contemporary author but Dunsany, who achieved a similar effect in fairy tale. Indeed, it's difficult to name another author who so subtly depicted the cosmology of shifting worlds until Moorcock (who did it in a rather rough style) or the Strugatskys, who took on the same event and expanded it until it dwarfed the entire world of man. It is no wonder that this work is so influential, because it asks many difficult questions of the reader, and invites us to expand upon it, to sit and dwell and try to produce our own understanding of just what is actually going on, and what it means for the insignificant people caught in the middle. It has certainly altered the way that I think about the writing of horror, and it goes to show that the particular treatment an author gives their idea can make or break a story.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Lou

    Algernon really knows how to write well and places you into a truly haunting atmosphere in this story. Two men venture during their expeditions in territory that is not the norm which encompass huge daunting malevolent Willow trees. I must read more stories of his. "The psychology of places, for some imaginations at least, is very vivid; for the wanderer, especially, camps have their "note" either of welcome or rejection. At first it may not always be apparent, because the busy preparations of te Algernon really knows how to write well and places you into a truly haunting atmosphere in this story. Two men venture during their expeditions in territory that is not the norm which encompass huge daunting malevolent Willow trees. I must read more stories of his. "The psychology of places, for some imaginations at least, is very vivid; for the wanderer, especially, camps have their "note" either of welcome or rejection. At first it may not always be apparent, because the busy preparations of tent and cooking prevent, but with the first pause-after supper usually- it comes and announces itself. And the note of this willow-camp now became unmistakably plain to me: we were interlopers, trespassers; we were not welcomed. The sense of unfamiliarity grew upon me as I stood there watching. We touched the frontier of a region where our presence was resented. For a night's lodging we might perhaps be tolerated; but for a prolonged and inquisitive stay-No! By all the gods of the trees and the wilderness, no! We were the first human influences upon this island, and we were not wanted. The willows were against us." "Death, according to one's belief, means either annihilation or release from the limitation of the senses, but it involves no change of character. You don't suddenly alter just because the body's gone. But this means a radical alteration, a complete change, a horrible loss f oneself by substitution- far worse than death, and not even annihilation. We happen to have camped in a spot where their region touches ours, where the veil between has worn thin-horrors!"

  19. 5 out of 5

    Arah-Lynda

    Shiverlicious! Thanks Henry. I loved it. You all everybody read Henry's spot on review right here: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...

  20. 5 out of 5

    Kimberly

    This is one that I make a point of reading every year. In MHO, truly one of the best horror stories every written. PERIOD. **Another Re-read! Still 5 stars, and I'm still noticing "little details" that I don't remember from previous readings. :)**

  21. 5 out of 5

    Rebecca McNutt

    At first I didn't know what to think of this story, but after reading it, I'm really glad I decided to because it was incredible and creative, with unforgettable characters and a very original plot. Definitely worth reading, this book is a fantastic and interesting story with a lot of unexpected events.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Obsidian

    Maybe it says something about me, but the older classic horror novels I am always shocked at how quaint they seem in comparison to works like "It." "It" gave me nightmares for weeks on end as a kid, this book, though scary in tone, is more mental than anything, your brain can turn what the unnamed narrator is describing into something worse. The main plot of "The Willows" is about two long time friends who are taking a canoe trip down the Danube River. We have the narrator and his friend called Maybe it says something about me, but the older classic horror novels I am always shocked at how quaint they seem in comparison to works like "It." "It" gave me nightmares for weeks on end as a kid, this book, though scary in tone, is more mental than anything, your brain can turn what the unnamed narrator is describing into something worse. The main plot of "The Willows" is about two long time friends who are taking a canoe trip down the Danube River. We have the narrator and his friend called "The Swede." Though both have been out in nature it seems based on previous comments, they come across a place that ends up unnerving them both. They start to fear the wind, the rising river, the willows, and anything else that seems like it is staring and mocking them. They eventually come across a man who seems to try to warn them away from where they end up camping, but since the narrator is doing what he can to try to laugh off his increasing fears, they both camp and witness something terrible. I thought this was quite good and liked the writing. I think the main reason why I couldn't give it five stars though was that I wanted more menace. I thought they got off quite easily in the end (have i mentioned that I am way too blood thirsty?) and that I wanted it pushed a bit more. I did like the surprise at the end though when both men realize that what they thought they saw when they first landed (no spoilers) was something else entirely. This is only 60 pages, so it won't take a lot of your time to read. I mentioned in my update this would be a perfect story told by flashlight or candle light. You want this read during a thunderstorm or a night you lose the power. I think if I could read it then, I would have be more afraid than what I was.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Donna

    I chose this short story for my annual Halloween read, hoping it would give me a few chills which it did. And even though the ending wasn't all that I hoped it would be, I enjoyed the journey in getting there much more than the characters in this story enjoyed theirs. This story is told by an unnamed man who, along with his unnamed traveling companion, referred to only as the Swede, travels down the Danube River by canoe on what was supposed to be an exhilarating adventure. The men had been raci I chose this short story for my annual Halloween read, hoping it would give me a few chills which it did. And even though the ending wasn't all that I hoped it would be, I enjoyed the journey in getting there much more than the characters in this story enjoyed theirs. This story is told by an unnamed man who, along with his unnamed traveling companion, referred to only as the Swede, travels down the Danube River by canoe on what was supposed to be an exhilarating adventure. The men had been racing down rushing water for a month and a half already as the river that time of year began rising to dangerous levels, the water flowing at an alarming speed. Presently, they must decide on a place to rest for the evening and spot what looks like an appealing campground, one of the many little islands dotting the area, enfolded by willows that move rhythmically with the never ceasing wind. Strangely, they have a hard time landing the canoe on the island, and must finally grasp at the willows to draw themselves ashore. Almost immediately, the narrator feels as if they are intruders there, a sense of unease growing inside him as the river, the willows, and the island itself seem to conspire against them. He's glad his companion is level-headed and unaffected by whatever has the narrator's imagination running wild. Or is it just his imagination, he wonders, as certain things happen which he can no longer explain away. Could their very lives be in danger? But from what? And alarmingly, his companion no longer seems to be the solid presence he once was, not enough to anchor him to reality. I enjoyed how, once again, same as with The Man Whom the Trees Loved, Blackwood pits Man against Nature but not in the usual way such as when people must cope with tornadoes, droughts, earthquakes, and floods. Instead, he personifies Nature as a true opponent though maybe only within the characters' minds. Maybe it's truly Man fighting against himself and against his fears. It's for the reader to determine what is real and what isn't, which is half the fun in the two books I've read by the author. But even as the author creates great anxiety in the reader with mere words, he often rewards the reader with those same words in creating nearly poetic passages such as this one which sums up the story: "The eeriness of this lonely island, set among a million willows, swept by a hurricane, and surrounded by hurrying deep waters, touched us both, I fancy. Untrodden by man, almost unknown to man, it lay there beneath the moon, remote from human influence, on the frontier of another world, an alien world, a world tenanted by willows only and the souls of willows. And we, in our rashness, had dared to invade it, even to make use of it! Something more than the power of its mystery stirred in me as I lay on the sand, feet to fire, and peered up through the leaves at the stars." Recommended as a quick and creepy story that may not frighten the pants off of you, but might just have you looking over your shoulder or with suspicion at those lovely willow trees lining your street.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Michael

    Review from Badelynge As someone who has had a lifetime fascination with ghost stories and mythology I could hardly ignore the works of Algernon Blackwood. If you have ever picked up one of the multitude of anthologies that profess to contain the best ghost stories it is a good bet that one, if not more, of Blackwood's tales will be included. The Willows was first published in 1907 and is not a ghost story. It is, however, a horror story. Blackwood was a great lover of the natural world and it sh Review from Badelynge As someone who has had a lifetime fascination with ghost stories and mythology I could hardly ignore the works of Algernon Blackwood. If you have ever picked up one of the multitude of anthologies that profess to contain the best ghost stories it is a good bet that one, if not more, of Blackwood's tales will be included. The Willows was first published in 1907 and is not a ghost story. It is, however, a horror story. Blackwood was a great lover of the natural world and it shows in the elegant first person prose characterizing the elements as described by the unnamed narrator of this novella. Two men are attempting to canoe the entire course of the Danube (as Blackwood himself had done) until they are forced by high flood waters to take refuge on a tiny, crumbling, willow infested island. One of the men is the aforementioned narrator and the other is an initially phlegmatic Swede. Once settled on the shrinking island the two men are disturbed by several unsettling happenings. Blackwood is a master of maintaining an eerie atmosphere; no small feat over 80 or so pages. The narrative that began with such imaginative and beautiful imagery starts to deteriorate as the story teller finds himself trying desperately to rationalise and quantify his experiences. The reader is forced to work harder as the psychological aspects of the story push to the fore. The story works on many different levels and is ambiguous enough for the reader to draw his own conclusions or speculate on the nature of reality and whether knowledge of something is something to be feared more than the unknown.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Jason

    5 Short Stars   This is classic horror at it's finest. It truly amazes me that this was written over 100 years ago. Written by a man that lived in a very different time from us today. Yet, amazingly, even if we take away all  the advancements in science, strip away all of our technologies, and rid ourselves of all our modern conveniences, we will find that we have not changed much as a people.  This story is still relevant today. It is easy for us to relate with the two men as they go through thi 5 Short Stars   This is classic horror at it's finest. It truly amazes me that this was written over 100 years ago. Written by a man that lived in a very different time from us today. Yet, amazingly, even if we take away all  the advancements in science, strip away all of our technologies, and rid ourselves of all our modern conveniences, we will find that we have not changed much as a people.  This story is still relevant today. It is easy for us to relate with the two men as they go through this dark experience. Through fear, Algernon Blackwood reduces us down to our primal core in a way that shows that we have not changed at all, even after a century worth of advancements.   This book is a lyrical, poetic, and deeply descriptive slice of horror. It is eloquent, purposeful and masterfully builds upon the sense of dread and doom. It is what would be if Werner Herzog(Aguirre, the Wrath of God), ever decided to shoot an X-Files movie. A long quote that shows the feel of this book. "With this general hush of the wind—though it still indulged in occasional brief gusts—the river seemed to me to grow blacker, the willows to stand more densely together. The latter, too, kept up a sort of independent movement of their own, rustling among themselves when no wind stirred, and shaking oddly from the roots upwards. When common objects in this way be come charged with the suggestion of horror, they stimulate the imagination far more than things of unusual appearance; and these bushes, crowding huddled about us, assumed for me in the darkness a bizarre grotesquerie of appearance that lent to them somehow the aspect of purposeful and living creatures. Their very ordinariness, I felt, masked what was malignant and hostile to us. The forces of the region drew nearer with the coming of night. They were focusing upon our island, and more particularly upon ourselves. For thus, somehow, in the terms of the imagination, did my really indescribable sensations in this extraordinary place present themselves." A literary masterpiece that all should read!!!

  26. 5 out of 5

    Sean

    The Willows is the most suspenseful 50 pages I have ever read. This ghost story about two men canoeing down the Danube River really struck a nerve in me because it really hits upon the heart of man’s fear. It conveys the same sense of dread and distress that every person has experienced at some point in their lives. Whether it is taking a wrong turn into a bad neighborhood, a noise in your house that wakes you in the middle of the night, or that strange shadow you see when you are alone in a par The Willows is the most suspenseful 50 pages I have ever read. This ghost story about two men canoeing down the Danube River really struck a nerve in me because it really hits upon the heart of man’s fear. It conveys the same sense of dread and distress that every person has experienced at some point in their lives. Whether it is taking a wrong turn into a bad neighborhood, a noise in your house that wakes you in the middle of the night, or that strange shadow you see when you are alone in a parking lot at night. This story contains that same emotion of apprehension that everyone feels when they are somewhere that they do not belong or in a situation that just does not seem right. The Willows is that uneasy situation and it is told in a way that sucks the reader into the tension and makes them want to run away and never look back.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Lisa Reads & Reviews

    At this point in my reading career, I don't believe I've read better building and rendering of fear than The Willows by Blackwood. The writing--word choice, dialogue--everything around those moments of terror were so evocative, I felt them, all while lying safely beneath a roof, on the sofa. The plot is simple--two men rowing a boat along the Danube River. They camp in an area overgrown with Willows. From that point, the mix of terror in the imagination, and subtle hints in the environment, is s At this point in my reading career, I don't believe I've read better building and rendering of fear than The Willows by Blackwood. The writing--word choice, dialogue--everything around those moments of terror were so evocative, I felt them, all while lying safely beneath a roof, on the sofa. The plot is simple--two men rowing a boat along the Danube River. They camp in an area overgrown with Willows. From that point, the mix of terror in the imagination, and subtle hints in the environment, is simply, excellent. The dialogue too, takes a sinister turn, along with the rushing of wind and gurgle of water. Amazingly well done, this fear, without gore or slashers or zombies. The Willows was a personal favorite of Lovecraft, so I was curious, and now I understand why. I intend to revisit the story and dissect how he did it, but for this first read, I was enthralled.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Doug H - On Hiatus

    The Delaware river is right outside my front window and I've experienced true terror many times in the past several years. We lived here peacefully for 15 years before the monster arrived. Some people don't believe in the monster, but all of us that live here know first hand that it is very real. The monster turned what used to be a somewhat predictable 50 year flood cycle into a very real and unpredictable threat that always lurks in the background. The monster's name is Climate Change. We've e The Delaware river is right outside my front window and I've experienced true terror many times in the past several years. We lived here peacefully for 15 years before the monster arrived. Some people don't believe in the monster, but all of us that live here know first hand that it is very real. The monster turned what used to be a somewhat predictable 50 year flood cycle into a very real and unpredictable threat that always lurks in the background. The monster's name is Climate Change. We've experienced 5 floods in the past 8 years and every time there's a heavy rain upriver, my breath grows short, my stomach churns, my heart pounds, and my skin crawls. This story almost captures that feeling, but not quite.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Perry Lake

    The true source of ALL Cthulhu Mythos stories, and one of the great horror stories. After re-reading it 12/5/16: Finished my re-read of The Willows and I did enjoy it. It was nice to see where so many of the themes and concepts of the Cthulhu Mythos originated. That said, I must admit, it seemed less intense this time around. But that's probably just because I'd read it before. I think the story will be more impressive for someone who has experienced being off in the woods, far from any sign of hum The true source of ALL Cthulhu Mythos stories, and one of the great horror stories. After re-reading it 12/5/16: Finished my re-read of The Willows and I did enjoy it. It was nice to see where so many of the themes and concepts of the Cthulhu Mythos originated. That said, I must admit, it seemed less intense this time around. But that's probably just because I'd read it before. I think the story will be more impressive for someone who has experienced being off in the woods, far from any sign of human habitation. The woods just have a feel of their own when you are inside them.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Tristram

    Otterworldly When I learnt that H.P. Lovecraft praised Algernon Blackwood’s story The Willows as the finest tale in weird fiction, I braced myself for a plethora of “eldritches” being hurled at me out of a nearly dialogue-less text whose major horror would consist in the compilation of ominous adjectives. Yet, I was pleasantly surprised for what I read really made my blood run cold because Blackwood proves a master of creating atmosphere and of conjuring up a feeling of indefinite terror. The Will Otterworldly When I learnt that H.P. Lovecraft praised Algernon Blackwood’s story The Willows as the finest tale in weird fiction, I braced myself for a plethora of “eldritches” being hurled at me out of a nearly dialogue-less text whose major horror would consist in the compilation of ominous adjectives. Yet, I was pleasantly surprised for what I read really made my blood run cold because Blackwood proves a master of creating atmosphere and of conjuring up a feeling of indefinite terror. The Willows, which was first published in the short story collection The Listener and Other Stories (1907), was based on two canoe trips down the Danube Blackwood undertook in June and August 1900 and 1901 respectively, which is probably why the author was able to describe the scenery with so much meaningful detail that it seems to come alive in front of the reader’s inner eye (especially if you read the text aloud). Similarly, another of Blackwood’s finest tales, The Wendigo was based on personal experience with the setting. In The Willows we accompany the narrator and his taciturn, apparently unimaginative and practically-minded friend, who is simply referred to as “The Swede” – he was based on Blackwood’s friend Wilfrid Wilson, who was his travelling companion in the summer of 1900 –, on their trip down the Danube. Somewhere near the Austrian-Hungarian border, the two friends decide to pitch camp in order not to navigate in the approaching darkness since they know that the area is nearly uninhabited and that to lose their bearings would put them in a pinch. So they land their canoe on one of several sandy islands, whose flora of willow bushes will offer them at least some protection from the wind. On their arrival at the island, some strange incidents occur – like the appearance of an unduly big otter in the water, or the passing-by of a stranger in a boat on the opposite river bank, who seems to warn them and, seeing this is to no avail, then crosses himself before he disappears –, but these are just the prelude to a series of strange occurrences. At first the terror only seems to take shape as a premonition, or a quirky idea in the mind of the narrator (whose proneness to pathetic fallacy becomes obvious very early in the story when he describes the river and the scenery), so as when a first stroll around the island leads him to the following thought, ”With this multitude of willows, however, it was something far different, I felt. Some essence emanated from them that besieged the heart. A sense of awe awakened, true, but of awe touched somewhere by a vague terror. Their serried ranks, growing everywhere darker about me as the shadows deepened, moving furiously yet softly in the wind, woke in me the curious and unwelcome suggestion that we had trespassed here upon the borders of an alien world, a world where we were intruders, a world where we were not wanted or invited to remain—where we ran grave risks perhaps!” But then there is more and more evidence that real evil is afoot and that the two travellers have strayed into hic sunt leones territory, from which to escape unharmed will prove quite a feat. In The Willows Blackwood shows himself a master of using his own experiences in travelling down the Danube and the impressions he gained when traversing swathes of virtually unexplored land (and water, for that matter) as a source of inspiration for a truly eerie setting in which by and by some awe-inspiring horror is going to unfold itself – of which, of course, nothing will be disclosed here. Gore, explicit violence and an unambiguous solution there will be none, but the lack of all those will also account for the haunting influence this story will keep over your mind for quite a while even after you have finished it. Blackwood takes his time describing the scenery and evoking a more and more minacious atmosphere, at the same time minutely describing how the narrator’s mind is affected by the primeval menace that is slowly manifesting itself, and he plays on the sense of solitariness and the readiness to embrace the idea of the existence of Something from the Great Beyond that are probably not unfamiliar to those who have ever experienced relatively untouched Nature in its beauty and also caught a glimpse of the raw cruelty that lies behind it. This is a tale for every fan of weird fiction.

Add a review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Loading...
We use cookies to give you the best online experience. By using our website you agree to our use of cookies in accordance with our cookie policy.