The White People

October 27, 2016 at 6:00 pm (Reads) (, , , )

whiteThe White People by Arthur Machen


I see a lot of reading lists pop up while browsing the web, and since I’m always looking for a good book, I pay attention to them. One was a list of stories to read if you liked Stranger Things, and since I did (and who didn’t?), I thought I’d check some of them out. “The White People” was one of those stories, and since I haven’t read anything by Machen, I thought this would be a good introduction.

“The White People” is an early weird story, which starts off reading like a philosophical treaty on sin, namely because that’s exactly what it is. Two men discuss the nature of sin, and the conversation leads one of the men to lend him a book he has, written by a sixteen-year-old woman who was drawn in to a world of mystery and mysticism through her nurse. None of what she sees or experiences is named; in fact, as the story enters into the big reveal, it ends, leaving us scrabbling for answers. The narrative evokes an ominous dread, especially as the young woman describes the uneasy reactions of other people to what she sees and tells.

I liked this story, but not because it reminded me of Stranger Things; that link is tenuous, connected only by way of parallel universes. Instead, I liked it for its use of atmosphere and unnameable horror. It evokes an unknown sort of response from the reader, one that’s as nebulous as the horrors that populate it. I understand Machen’s The Great God Pan is another exemplary piece of his work, and I look forward to reading it, as well.


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