I’ve always thought that writing a ghost story is a tricky thing. Especially when you have to compete against the visual medium. There’s no benefit of special effects or the surprise element or anything else for that matter. All they have to rely upon is atmosphere. That’s probably why I feel like I’m yet to read a truly scary book. The kind that keeps you up at night and make you wonder about every little sound, you know?
And yet, if I had to watch a so-called scary movie that resolved in “nothing happened”, I’d be sorely tempted to chuck something at the makers of said movie. Unlike a book. And that’s probably why the way The Damned ended felt right. Of coure, the setting of the old English house probably helped.
Written by Algernon Blackwood, the plot of The Damned is a familiar one as it talks of a house that didn’t feel quite right as it struggled against the influence of its history and its previous occupants. It’s an oft-repeated theme now of atmosphere and dogma and its debilitating influence. It obviously helps that it talks of an English country house.
The narrator and his sister visit the house of an old friend with whom they had lost touch after and due to her marriage. But the house is full of a strange influence that goes beyond being just a haunting. Have you ever been to a house which seems to be alive with unnameable influences?
Once you enter the flow of the story it’s easy to see what the author talks about, verbose descriptions, notwithstanding. And the story makes you wonder how you would have felt if on a nightly jaunt down a dark corridor you had come across a … Read it and you’ll know.
I’d give the book a 4/5.