Algernon Blackwood has long been one of my favorite authors. He’s probably best known for such works as “The Willows”, “Wendigo”, “Ancient Sorceries”, and “Ancient Lights”. Each of those tales are true classics of the genre, but there are many more which don’t receive the same consideration. Personally, I adore “The Glamour of Snow”, “Secret Worship”, and “The Whisperers”, for instance, which I covered alongside with several others in my two previous Blackwood articles which you can read here: https://horrordelve.com/2013/09/22/algernon-blackwood/ and here: https://horrordelve.com/2016/05/14/more-algernon-blackwood/ . As it’s been a few years, I think it’s high time to check out some more of his excellent stories.
1. “A Haunted Island” (1899) – After the rest of his group leaves the small, isolated island within a large Canadian lake where they were vacationing, one man remains behind to finish some studying he neglected. While alone in the cabin, he begins to feel a psychic oppression in one of the rooms and later has a terrifying encounter with a group of threatening Indians who canoe to the island. Listen here for free: https://podcasts.podinstall.com/robert-crandall-short-storiess-podcast/201603150826-haunted-island-algernon-blackwood.html
2. “A Suspicious Gift” (1906) – A struggling writer answers a knock at his door to admit an unsavory-looking man who says he’s there to deliver $10,000 to him from a mysterious benefactor. He’s right to be suspicious of the situation. Listen here for free: https://podtail.com/podcast/the-horrorbabble-podcast/-a-suspicious-gift-by-algernon-blackwood/
3. “The Woman’s Ghost Story” (1907) – A woman recounts the tale of her visit to explore a haunted house and the sad, frightened ghost of a man she encountered there. This somber specter has a request for her. Listen here for free: http://nikolledoolin.com/alo/?p=1659
4. “Miss Slumbubble – And Claustrophobia” (1907) – The neurotic Miss Slumbubble scrapes all year to save money to take a one week vacation in Europe. She becomes terrified when seated alone in her train compartment for the long ride and begins to panic about being shut inside. Is there a reason she has suddenly become assailed by so intense a fear?
5. “The Dance of Death” (1907) – Still in his 20s, a man is diagnosed with a weak heart and told he must not exert himself. He goes to a dance late one night anyway and spies an attractive, young woman dancing with a man who looks just like himself. He is taken with her and determines he must meet and dance with her, despite the risk to his heart. Listen here for free: https://player.fm/series/the-horrorbabble-podcast/the-dance-of-death-by-algernon-blackwood-a-horrorbabble-production
6. “Entrance and Exit” (1909) – After hearing of a place in the forest where a person mysteriously vanished 50 years previous, a young priest goes to check it out for himself, only for him to also disappear. Somehow, he can still be heard by others who go in search of him. Listen here for free: https://pseudopod.org/2013/03/15/pseudopod-325-entrance-and-exit-the-terror-of-the-twins/
7. “The Terror of the Twins” (1909) – A father is angered to madness when he learns his wife is giving birth to twin sons. In the asylum where he ends up, he curses the boys telling them they will be one. The boys experience such fear over this unclear curse that they ask a friend to stay up with them on the night of their 21st birthday. This is another intriguing tale by Blackwood. Listen here for free: https://pseudopod.org/2013/03/15/pseudopod-325-entrance-and-exit-the-terror-of-the-twins/
8. “The Occupant of the Room” (1909) – When a man takes an impromptu vacation in a small village, he discovers the only inn has no vacancies. They soon call him back saying they could allow him to stay in a room which has been let by an Englishwoman who left a few days ago and hasn’t yet returned as long as he’s willing to risk the possibility of being turned out at any hour should she return. With no other options, he agrees, but while staying there he begins to feel oppressed by dismal feelings of gloom and despair for which he has no explanation. Is there some presence haunting this room, and if so what is its cause? Listen here for free: https://www.radio.com/podcasts/short-storiess-podcast-23747/133-the-occupant-of-the-room-by-algernon-blackwood-349679344
9. “The Destruction of Smith” (1912) – While on a shooting trip in the wilds of Arizona, Ezekiel B. Smith and his colleagues witness the spectral manifestation of Smithville, the town Smith himself founded and which was named after him. His family is there, but this vision portends something terrible. This is a very well-told, inventive tale.
10. “The Goblin’s Collection” (1914) – A man attending a social event keeps having the small, shiny objects he carries with him disappear from his room. A servant tells him this is because a mischievous goblin is inhabiting his room. This is one of Blackwood’s more light-hearted tales.
11. “The Transition” (1917) – A man makes his way home carrying the presents he purchased for his wife and kids with him through the streets. Suddenly, a pair of monsters leap out at him, but he manages to avoid them. When he arrives home, he finds the house filled with people, most of whom don’t acknowledge his presence among them.
12. “Roman Remains” (1948) – Set during World War II, a recovering airman goes to stay at his wealthy brother’s estate away from the London Blitz. The place is located near the remains of a Roman temple to the sun god Silvanus in a small glen called Goat Valley. This area has a bad reputation among the locals. A young woman named Nora Ashwell is staying there as well. Although quiet, she has a wild demeanor about her which puts him off. When the man decides to picnic in Goat Valley alone, he’s disturbed by what he discovers there. Read it here for free: https://nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/sffaudio-usa/usa-pdfs/RomanRemainsByAlgernonBlackwood.pdf
Article by Matt Cowan