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The Willows by Algernon Blackwood
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The Willows (1907)

by Algernon Blackwood

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244969,314 (4.13)13
Member:ladycato
Title:The Willows
Authors:Algernon Blackwood
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Collections:Your library
Rating:****
Tags:read in 2012, classic, horror

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The Willows by Algernon Blackwood (1907)

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This is a great suspenseful tale. Blackwood masterfully builds the suspense little by little not giving away to much about the entities which inhabit the sand island our two characters have been forced to land on. This is an example of great writing and I can understand why H.P. Lovecraft considered it the best weird tale ever told. ( )
  Arkrayder | Mar 24, 2018 |
Atmospheric and creepy. The setting and characterisation were incredibly well done for a short story and it would be best to read it in one sitting, I think, without knowing anything about it. ( )
  subabat | Mar 19, 2018 |
The Willows - 4.5 stars...

I've been trying to read this for the past couple months for Halloween Bingo & HA and I'm just now getting to it. But hey you do what you can do...

I'm glad I finally read it though because now it's at the top of my list of favorite novellas and there aren't very many on there. Short stories just don't usually do much for me and I admit when I read the first few pages I wasn't sure if I would like this one either. I was wondering where the author was going with it but once the characters came into play I really liked it. I also liked the island and river setting- add in the willow trees and it made for a very atmospheric read. The author also did a fantastic job of creating that feeling of impending doom.

This would be a perfect story to read when you're in the middle of nowhere on a camping trip! ( )
  EmpressReece | Mar 9, 2018 |
This was a surprisingly effective short horror story. ( )
  VincentDarlage | Jan 30, 2015 |
A wonderful supernatural tale that will fill you with dread, every time you read it!

Synopsis:

Two companions set out on a canoeing trip down the Danube river. They laugh and enjoy their time travelling and admiring the scenery. The friends camp for the night on a small island where mysterious things begin to happen. One of their paddles disappear, strange funnels appear in the sand and is it their imagination or have the willow bushes that surround the island moved closer? The two friends must find a way off the island before disaster strikes.

Review:

I absolutely love this book, I've read it before and it is no less creepy and wonderful the second time around. Personally I think that horror novels/films are most effective when you don’t actually see anything. That eerie sense of not knowing what is there seems to result in such a strong feeling of discomfort. That is very much at play in The Willows. Previously I had never heard of Algernon Blackwood, but this is one of his most popular stories, and part of the reason for that is the complete horror and the story instils. HP Lovecraft stated his belief that it is the finest supernatural tale in English literature. This is a must read for fans of horror and weird fiction.

The story is a fairly simple one, but it’s amazingly executed. The two try to deny all that they have seen and the narrator in true human fashion, attempts to find explanations for the various fantastic things that happen, but as their lives become threatened, they admit to all they have seen and find a way off the tiny island they've inhabited. It’s dark, compelling and a truly fascinating read.

“When common objects in this way become 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 novel makes an interesting study of psychology, and how things that are so ordinary to us, willow bushes, otters and the wind, can turn into something truly monstrous. There is also the question of the reliability of the story, did these haunting things happen to the companions, or is the story simply a hallucination of two people exhausted from travelling?

It is easy to see the effect such a story would have on master horror writer HP Lovecraft. It’s a truly wonderful story and if you’re a fan of weird fiction, definitely stick this one on your wish list. ( )
  ColeReadsBooks | Jan 17, 2015 |
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After leaving Vienna, and long before you come to Budapest, the Danube enters a region of singular loneliness and desolation, where its waters spread away on all sides regardless of a main channel, and the country becomes a swamp for miles upon miles, covered by a vast sea of low willow-bushes.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 155742537X, Hardcover)

Algernon Blackwood (1869-1951) was one of the all-time great supernatural writers, and "The Willows" is his masterpiece, praised as one of the greatest horror stories ever written. This edition adds a new introduction by John Gregory Betancourt. H. P. Lovecraft, in his essay "Supernatural Horror in Literature," wrote: "Less intense than Machen in delineating the extremes of stark fear, yet infinitely more closely wedded to the idea of an unreal world constantly pressing upon ours is the inspired and prolific Algernon Blackwood, amidst whose voluminous and uneven work may be found some of the finest spectral literature of this or any age. Of the quality of Mr. Blackwood's genius there can be no dispute; for no one has even approached the skill, seriousness, and minute fidelity with which he records the overtones of strangeness in ordinary things and experiences, or the preternatural insight with which he builds up detail by detail the complete sensations and perceptions leading from reality into supernormal life or vision. Without notable command of the poetic witchery of mere words, he is the one absolute and unquestioned master of weird atmosphere; and can evoke what amounts almost to a story from a simple fragment of humourless psychological description. Above all others he understands how fully some sensitive minds dwell forever on the borderland of dream, and how relatively slight is the distinction betwixt those images formed from actual objects and those excited by the play of the imagination."

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 17:58:03 -0400)

Algernon Blackwood was a prolific writer across short stories, novels and plays. His passion for the supernatural and for ghost stories together with a fascination for all things in the occult and mysticism created some of the most enthralling works ever written. HP Lovecraft referred to his works as that of a master. Henry James in referring to The Bright Messenger said "the most extraordinary novel on psychoanalysis, one that dwarfs the subject. " Many other authors similarly lauded him. Today his works are beginning to regain their former popularity. Here we publish one of his classic novels, The Willows, one of a number of books that any fan of the occult should read.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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