The Willows
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The Willows

4.12 of 5 stars 4.12  ·  rating details  ·  2,073 ratings  ·  181 reviews
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. On the big maps this deserted area is painted in a fluffy blue, growing fainter...more
Kindle Edition, 70 pages
Published (first published 1907)
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Stephen
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I am a big fan of Horror, including the classics, but I feel like massive POSER having just now experienced for the first time Algernon Blackwood’s inspiring novella of otherworldly dread. This is simply such a superbly crafted tale that it is not hard to see why H.P. Lovecraft (whose work I love) called this the best supernatural tale in the English language. As HPL himself put it:
Here art and restraint in narrative reach their very highest development, and an impression of lasting poignanc
...more
Henry Avila
H. P. Lovecraft, called "The Willows", by Algernon Blackwood, a great name by the way, the "best weird tale of all time", you be the judge ... In the early part of the Twentieth Century, two experienced young adventurers, decided to take a canoe trip, down the famous Danube River, during the summer, how glorious. Starting from its beginning, in the Black Forest, to the end, when the river reaches the Black Sea (a distant 2,000 miles away). The "Swede", and the narrator, remain anonymous througho...more
Greg
I began the long journey from my computer desk to my futon/couch/bed in order to partake in reading the next story from the devilish collection of unspeakable horrors that some have dared call The Weird, but which I will not even give name to in fear of invoking the ire of the those powers beyond the imagination of man. I dreaded the walk. The dirty clothes on the floor screamed out in soundless horror at me, and even though I knew it was just my Spazz t-shirt and some dirty socks, and I told my...more
Lou
Algernon really knows how to write well and places you into a truly haunting atmosphere in this story. Two men venture during their expeditions in territory that is not the norm which encompass huge daunting malevolent Willow trees. I must read more stories of his.

"The psychology of places, for some imaginations at least, is very vivid; for the wanderer, especially, camps have their "note" either of welcome or rejection. At first it may not always be apparent, because the busy preparations of te...more
Michael
Review from Badelynge
As someone who has had a lifetime fascination with ghost stories and mythology I could hardly ignore the works of Algernon Blackwood. If you have ever picked up one of the multitude of anthologies that profess to contain the best ghost stories it is a good bet that one, if not more, of Blackwood's tales will be included. The Willows was first published in 1907 and is not a ghost story. It is, however, a horror story. Blackwood was a great lover of the natural world and it sh...more
Sean
The Willows is the most suspenseful 50 pages I have ever read. This ghost story about two men canoeing down the Danube River really struck a nerve in me because it really hits upon the heart of man’s fear. It conveys the same sense of dread and distress that every person has experienced at some point in their lives. Whether it is taking a wrong turn into a bad neighborhood, a noise in your house that wakes you in the middle of the night, or that strange shadow you see when you are alone in a par...more
Chance Maree
Feb 15, 2013 Chance Maree rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommended to Chance by: Dylan
Shelves: kindle, horror, classics
At this point in my reading career, I don't believe I've read better building and rendering of fear than The Willows by Blackwood. The writing--word choice, dialogue--everything around those moments of terror were so evocative, I felt them, all while lying safely beneath a roof, on the sofa. The plot is simple--two men rowing a boat along the Danube River. They camp in an area overgrown with Willows. From that point, the mix of terror in the imagination, and subtle hints in the environment, is s...more
Keely
This most famous work of Blackwood's is one of those classic short stories of weird horror mentioned alongside pieces by Lovecraft, Howard, Machen, Bierce, and Chambers as worthy of even a discerning reader. Like many such stories, it starts somewhat slowly, establishing first that picture of normal life from which we must soon, and by gradations, deviate beyond recall. however, I grew to feel it may have been a bit too slow, though it can be hard to judge such a balance. So much of the story wa...more
Jason



5 Short Stars

This is classic horror at it's finest. It truly amazes me that this was written over 100 years ago. Written by a man that lived in a very different time from us today. Yet, amazingly, even if we take away all the advancements in science, strip away all of our technologies, and rid ourselves of all our modern conveniences, we will find that we have not changed much as a people. This story is still relevant today. It is easy for us to relate with the two men as they go through this da...more
Shaun
"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. On the big maps this deserted area is painted in a fluffy blue, growing fainter in color as it leaves the banks, and across it may be seen in large straggling letters the word Sumpfe, meaning marches.

In
...more
Gwynhwyfar
People often ask what "The scariest book" is, expecting something about ghosts (not scary to me, unless you are talking about "The Haunting of Hill House" by Shirley Jackson), vampires (anything with a long-running TV show...well, not scary, if it ever was) or werewolves. No. They're just funny to me.

What about beings from another dimension who trap you on a crumbling island, invade your mind and your friend's mind, make willows move without wind, try to crush you in your tent at night and send...more
Kathryn
I still find it hard to believe that I'd only recently heard of Blackwood. Having first read The Wendigo and now The Willows, I am struck by the suspense and horror I felt when reading both stories, the authors obvious respect and fear for nature. I guess this story is considered more new-weird than anything else. I was left with a disturbed and eerie feeling of unease. Highly recommended.
Marts  (Thinker)
A rather strange tale indeed... Two gentlemen, the un-named narrator and the 'Swede', take a river trip and decide to camp in an area with many willow trees, the area seems full of mystery, wonder and much doubt, and the narrator attempts to hide any fears explaining such away with his logical ramblings. Soon however both seem overcome by some threatening entity...
Marc-Antoine
The reason I read is to come across a story like this one!
Lisa Dee
I always like to think about the transgressions of the protagonists in horror stories. Something has to cause/invite the horror. In The Willows, the narrator and the Swede eschew human civilization and in doing so, they unwittingly enter into a forbidden territory: "we allowed laughingly to one another that we ought by rights to have held some special kind of passport to admit us, and that we had, somewhat audaciously, come without asking leave into a separate little kingdom of wonder and magic-...more
Kislay Verma
An excerpt from my review at SolomonSays:

Among the early authors of horror fiction, I consider only Edgar Allan Poe and H.P. Lovecraft the betters of Algernon Blackwood, with the latter’s style of writing similar to that of the author’s. Blackwood’s treatment of nature, first wild and free and then increasingly dripping with malign expectancy is strongly reminiscent of Lovecraft’s At the Mountains of Madness. He takes the elements – wind, river, willows, birds etc., and imbues them with a person...more
Mmars
Love the way Algernon sets the stage for the story by applying words that personified the marshy habitat the two rowers necessarily placed themselves into. "...the willows especially: for ever they went on chattering and talking among themselves, laughing a little, shrilly crying out, sometimes sighing" and then foreshadowed with "the psychology of places, for some imaginations at least, is very vivid...we were interlopers, trespassers: we were not welcome."

(A caveat: I just noticed the two col...more
Ken
I read this book based on the recommendation of a friend as a short-story that every horror fan should read.

It is a very intense psychological thriller.

This is the first work by Algernon Blackwood that I have read. I will be reading others.

4 STARS
Stefan
A fantastic "otherworldly" horror story. Though only 49 pages it certainly kept me on the edge of my seat. I really enjoyed The Willows and plan on reading more of Blackwood's work.
Irena
3.5
Algernon Blackwood shows nature exactly the way I see it. This is a wonderfully creepy story.

The Willows follows two men who are travelling along the Danube in their canoe. The weather is terrible, there is a real danger of flood and one man even warned them to be careful not to turn the wrong way because they can find themselves somewhere the help cannot be reached.
They make a camp on a small island and strange things start to happen. The trees seem to move every now and then and the travell...more
Marvin
An excellent example on how a writer can use atmosphere as a way to scare the hell out of you. A classic tale of horror. Many people say H. P. Lovecraft is the master of that sort of thing but I think Blackwood kicks Lovecraft's atmospheric butt.
Bill
It read and felt like a classic...I guess that's because it is! Hard to believe it was written in 1907. Atmospheric horror - You can feel the menace of the "Willows" closing in and whispering to you in the darkness.
Wifey
Jan 03, 2008 Wifey rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: People who think Steven King is LAME
Written in 1907 and still terrifying and relevant, short read, and demanding of the reader.
Susanne
Lovecraft thought this was one of the best works of supernatural horror ever written. 'Nuff said.
Rob Palange
I read this short story because of a Lovecraft project on Forbidden Knowledge as a central theme in HPL's work. When I began the story I really wasn't sure why HPL thought this was one of his favorite Weird Tales, since he described weird in his essay Supernatural Horror in Literature as something beyond ghosts and more cosmic. When I reached the part of the story where the Swede explains what the island truly is it hit me. This is why? This is the reason that Lovecraft loved this story. It had...more
Franky
I knew little to nothing about “The Willows” prior to reading except that it was “weird”, and maybe that made this read such a powerful experience. A convincing and effective horror tale will have a sense of the unexplainable and incomprehensible, almost consuming you, the reader, as much as it does its characters. “The Willows” accomplishes this. The prose is so lyrical, the narrative so smooth, and the building terror so effective and well-paced that it makes for an entertaining and creepy tal...more
Beth Cato
The Willows is an early example of horror, published in 1907, and cited as a favorite story of H.P. Lovecraft. I don't read much horror, but this was selected as an October book club read and a Kindle copy was free on Amazon, so I was game.

To modern tastes, the book has a very slow start. The descriptions are excessive. Blackwood creates a menace in the very atmosphere of a place: a small island in a swampy area off the Danube, where two friends are stranded during a high flood. The two are neve...more
Edel
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Glenn Winkelmann
It is often hard to pay attention to what The Willows really is, as you can become as lost and stranded as the characters are in what is easily some of the most colorful and 'human' prose to find in the genre.

Telling the story of two close friends taking a canoe trip across various lakes and streams towards the Austria/Hungary border, they become lost and stranded in a gigantic marsh of sandbars, willow bushes, and the lake's tide. It turns from routine to sinister as Blackwood instills a sense...more
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Blackwood was born in Shooter's Hill (today part of south-east London, but then part of northwest Kent) and educated at Wellington College. His father was a Post Office administrator who, according to Peter Penzoldt, "though not devoid of genuine good-heartedness, had appallingly narrow religious ideas".Blackwood had a varied career, farming in Canada, operating a hotel, as a newspaper reporter in...more
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“When common objects in this way be come 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.” 17 likes
“Great revelations of nature, of course, never fail to impress in one way or another, and I was no stranger to moods of the kind. Mountains overawe and oceans terrify, while the mystery of great forests exercises a spell peculiarly its own. But all these, at one point or another, somewhere link on intimately with human life and human experience. They stir comprehensible, even if alarming, emotions. They tend on the whole to exalt.” 1 likes
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