The Wendigo

June 20, 2014 at 6:49 pm (Reads)

The WendigoThe Wendigo by Algernon Blackwood


So far, I’m impressed with Algernon Blackwood. When I first heard about him, it was in reference to The Wendigo, but as I did more research into him, I discovered that The Willows and The Man Whom the Trees Loved were also highly regarded stories of his. As is my habit, I decided to save what I anticipated would be the best to read last, so my expectations were pretty high.

The thing is, when I look at all three of these stories together, The Wendigo is my least favorite. It lacks some of the atmosphere and dread of the other two stories, and even goes so far as to provide a fairly clear resolution. There’s still a sense of the unknown and mysterious there, but it’s not as prevalent as in, say, The Willows, because he brings some of those horrors into the light of day (or, at least, the light of campfire).

That’s not to say that it’s not effective, mind you. There’s still a sense of menace and dread pervading the narrative, and when Blackwood does take his creatures out of the shadow, they’re appropriately eerie and wrong, while still looking relatively normal, to key the reader up a bit. But the shock and revulsion of the other characters doesn’t quite match the level of the oddness of Blackwell’s creatures. Being presented with something out of the ordinary would certainly shock people, but like this? I’m not sure it’s convincing enough.

To say that The Wendigo is the weakest of these three stories, though, is like saying Star Wars is the weakest movie of the original trilogy: it might be true, but it doesn’t make it a bad story. I just wish that I had started here and worked my way backward through my short list of Blackwell stories.

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