Interesting read. I felt bad for Mr. Jennings for what he suffered, and for so long. Being who he was, it seemed even worse for the poor fellow. I don...moreInteresting read. I felt bad for Mr. Jennings for what he suffered, and for so long. Being who he was, it seemed even worse for the poor fellow. I don't think it was just a nervous condition. I think it's kind of funny that large amounts of green tea seems to open the poor man's 'third eye.' My sister is an avid green tea drinker. I suppose I ought to warn her. Personally, it's a little too bitter for my tastes, but I digress.
Dr. Hesselius is an interesting protagonist, a doctor who treats the spirit and the body. I hope to read more of his stories.
As far as writing style, I found this a little more easy to read than Carmilla. Mr. Le Fanu writes beautifully, although not simply. That's okay. I kind of like the old-fashioned manner of writing of the prior centuries, and this one wasn't a tad dry like Carmilla was.
Like many classic horror short stories, the conclusion is sort of up to one's interpretation. That works for me. I never liked being spoon-fed ideas in literature.
Although not scary, there are some elements that are a bit eerie. Green Tea was a pretty satisfying story--a nice, quick read.(less)
Reading this story was a lot like standing in line opening weekend for a blockbuster you waited a year to see, and being underwhelmed. I was disappoin...moreReading this story was a lot like standing in line opening weekend for a blockbuster you waited a year to see, and being underwhelmed. I was disappointed. I've heard about this story as being one of the best ghost stories ever written. I was so excited to read it. So excited was I, I had to download it to my Kindle to read right away, even though I have this story in one of my paperback collections. I love psychological horror, but I don't think a good psychological horror novel should leave the reader feeling as detached as I did with this story. I also felt that Mr. James spent so much time in writing a stylistically appealing story, using just the right turn of phrase to pretty up his narrative, that the story got lost in translation. I was surprised to realize that I had gotten to the end. I was like, "What?" After all the slow going, and slow build that never got anywhere, it was "wham!" Sigh! Not sure what to think of this one.
I will be honest and say I had trouble with this story. I had to work really hard to read it and not skim the words to move ahead. I really resist that when I'm reading. There is no point in reading a story if you don't understand the intent behind it. I like to read every word and take things in. On the downside, I like a pay off to my reading, especially if it's not a particularly easy story to read. But, this story was hard to decipher for hidden intent.
I saw some gems in it: the menace of two children who seemed like angels, but had a decidedly unangelic side. The governess who started to doubt her own reason and sanity, but was dead on in her understanding of what was going on. The apparitions that should have inspired dread in me, but somehow didn't. I spent time waiting to feel unease. It never got there.
Please don't misunderstand me. I love subtle horror. I prefer it. But the impact of the horror, the feel of the gothic has to be there. It has to be planted in one's mind so that the power of the threat, or its aftermath, is felt. I never felt the true impact with this story.
On the positive side, I felt that the psychological results of the 'demon children' on caregivers was translated pretty well. You could see the confusion and the distress that these beautiful, seemingly perfect children was having on the governess and the cook. It was interesting to see the governess have discussions with a child, that seemed incongruously adult. Discussions with an intellectual equal who will go for the jugular, so one has to be prepared for the worst. I felt that. At times, Miles did exude a menace that I wanted to feel. I felt the governess's anxiety at being in a situation that was beyond her control. Not sure that she was doing the right thing. And fearing for the safety of herself, those around her, and the children in her charge. But it was in a detached fashion. The power of horror is in bringing to light fears that we personally can identify with on some level, the more personal and visceral the better. If that barrier stays between the reader and the circumstance, then horror loses its ability to affect us.
I have to say that I will read my volume Ghost Stories by this author, and hope for the best. But, I won't be attempting any of his non-gothic works. Although he is a beautiful writer, there is not enough to engage on an emotional level, which is very important to me in my pleasure reading. My recommendation: If you are a person who is absolutely committed to a thorough immersion into gothic fiction/classic horror reading, you should read this. However, depending on your tastes in writing styles, if you are like myself in that you don't go for pretty writing with less substance, I wouldn't expect much from it. Although I wouldn't say I am the most sophisticated reader, I am sophisticated enough to realize that much enjoyment can be found in 19th century literature, but this story didn't deliver that for me.(less)
I stumbled across this short story for free on Kindle, and I am very glad that I downloaded and read it. With its period settling and rich language, t...moreI stumbled across this short story for free on Kindle, and I am very glad that I downloaded and read it. With its period settling and rich language, this story involved me very deeply. It is the story of two brothers: one tall, muscular and handsome; and the other, not handsome at all, slight of build and blessed with the incredible ability to run swiftly over long distances. Sweyn is the beautiful, well-admired brother, and Christian is more than happy to walk meekly in his shadow. But when a beautiful, young, white-haired stranger arrives, she drives a wedge between the brothers. For Christian soon suspects that she is the werewolf he has been tracking, and Sweyn quickly falls in love with this mysterious female who calls herself White Fell, and believes that Christian's ravings are induced by jealous madness.
This story inspired a mix of emotions in me, from dread, to anxiety, to deep sadness. It was one of those stories where you are thinking, "This can't end well," when you get to a certain point in reading it. Indeed, the ending is hardly upbeat. But for a story that starts out as one of thrilling suspense and horror, it has a very meaningful message. It's a story about the power of love and sacrifice, and it was very well-done. A great free find on Amazon Kindle. Recommended to fans of classic genre fiction with a deeper, even spiritual message.(less)
Now that was a good ghost story. It was refreshing. I loved the humor, but there was also pathos. I kind of liked the old crusty Canterville ghost, ev...moreNow that was a good ghost story. It was refreshing. I loved the humor, but there was also pathos. I kind of liked the old crusty Canterville ghost, even though he was kind of evil. I loved how the Otis children turned the tables on him. And how Virginia felt sad for Sir Simon, and helped him to get closure.
This is the second story I've read by Oscar Wilde, and I must say, I am very impressed with his writing. His work has a depth, but an airy lightness to it, and a hard to define beauty to it. Honestly, I can't find the words to really explain how I feel about it. I think that he managed to put so much into this short story, and I was very pleased with the result. I can't believe I waited so long to read Oscar Wilde. Shame on me.
If you have not read The Canterville Ghost, I highly recommend doing so. It is free online through various sources.(less)
Mary W. Shelley explored themes that still resonate today in her proto-science fiction work, Frankenstein. Themes of the relentless drive and search f...moreMary W. Shelley explored themes that still resonate today in her proto-science fiction work, Frankenstein. Themes of the relentless drive and search for ultimate (even forbidden) knowledge; intellectual arrogance; the desire to create something enduring; the need for love and recognition; and a study in how bitterness, hatred and rage can destroy a person. What separates men from God? What separates man from monster? Can a so-called monster have the heart (the humanity) and the accompanying needs and desires of a man? Does beauty or ugliness penetrate deeper than the skin? Can one expect good to come from an act of utter selfishness?
Frankenstein is very much a philosophical work. Although there are some primordial science fiction elements, they are merely the impetus--the laying of the groundwork for this story. For it is not about how Frankenstein makes his creation. It’s about the aftermath of that act. This is a moving work of fiction that skirts the edges of horror, but the horror is more of a psychological sort. The horror is that a man would take knowledge to create a man from unliving flesh. A man so hideous in visage that people turn away in horror. This man chases after his creator, demands his love and tender regard, to merely be noticed and acknowledged by his creator; and if not that, at least the right to have a companion in his lonely life. Many times, I was deeply affected emotionally by this story. I felt so much sympathy for the creature. To be brought to life and abandoned by his creator seemed so cruel. He couldn’t help that his external appearance was ugly and a constant reminder of the unspeakable act his maker had perpetrated. He had not been given the opportunity to prove that he was something more, something worthwhile; that he was capable of deep emotions, an ability to appreciate beauty in life, to love and to give to others. This made me so very sad. There were times when I truly felt disdain towards Frankenstein. For his arrogance, for his selfishness. Although Shelley couldn’t have known about the capabilities of science now, the caution about science and its ethical considerations couldn’t be more timely. Should we create something just because we have the knowledge and skill to do so? And how often do we truly count the cost of such an action before it’s too late? Although I felt great enmity towards Frankenstein at times, I certainly didn’t condone the creature’s actions. I felt a profound sense of horror when the created man committed acts of violence to innocents around him in vengeance against his creator. I was still angry at Frankenstein for bringing it on himself, but I also felt sad for him to lose everyone he valued in his life. Surely, he couldn’t have known how horrible the results his creation act would result in. When he is given the ultimatum to create a mate for the creature, I could understand his terrible dilemma, and I still question whether his final actions were the right ones. Finally, I was back to feeling pity for the creature, deeply empathizing with him in his loneliness, how his desire for love and understanding turned into selfish rage that he truly regretted and repented for in the end.
Mary Shelley doesn’t give the answers to these moral dilemmas. She merely presents these profound queries in this narrative. Where does it place the reader in the end? Deeply entrenched within this tumultuous, roiling cauldron of emotions—fear, love, rage, regret, hope, and despair. One simply cannot be detached when reading this book.
I found this to be very readable despite the fact that it was written about two hundred years ago. I only found my interest wavering in the moments of the somewhat excessive travelogues of the natural surroundings. In my opinion, this took up too prominent a role in the narrative, and it was distracting. Despite that small shortcoming, this was powerful reading, not comfortable, but deeply involving. No easy answers, but lots of questions for each reader to process and come up with their own conclusions. I won’t forget this book.
I've read this story, not the whole book. In my opinion, this is a masterpiece of suspense, and a powerful story about how a person's guilt will betra...moreI've read this story, not the whole book. In my opinion, this is a masterpiece of suspense, and a powerful story about how a person's guilt will betray them in the end. I love the way Poe builds up the tension slowly but surely until the end, with a careful use of narrative. I believe this is the story that made me a Poe fan.(less)
Disclaimer: I have only read The Haunted Hotel out of this collection so far, and so I will not rate the entire book at this time. My review and ratin...moreDisclaimer: I have only read The Haunted Hotel out of this collection so far, and so I will not rate the entire book at this time. My review and rating for this story are below. I will post a rating for the entire collection when I finish it.
Review of The Haunted Hotel Rating: Four Stars
I liked this story. It was multifaceted in that it was not just a haunted house story, but also a murder mystery. Collins builds the suspense and the feeling of curiosity that keeps the reader engaged. I found the writing to be far from dated. The language was not antiquated, but felt almost modern in some ways. The print for my copy is rather small, and that's the only reason I didn't read it faster. Yesterday, I kept saying, I'll read to this point, and to that point, before I knew it, it was quite late and I had to put the book down to go to bed.
I didn't find the prose melodramatic. Instead, I found that Collins is matter of fact in describing horrors. It's merely in the reading of such things that the horror is evoked. I was quite surprised at the horrible things that had occurred, and it wasn't due to that Campy Gothic or Victorian Penny Dreadful tendency to use outlandish language to evoke a dark, sinister tone. I liked his subtle but hilarious humor, particularly in the part in which Francis Westwick goes to the room in question. I was laughing out loud on that part.
The Haunted Hotel starts out in an curious manner, with a false narrator. Which is quite brilliant. This beginning narrator never makes another appearance, and I was left to wonder how this plot thread would end up in the titular place. Further reading shows Collins' tendency to continuously introduce new point of views, leaving it up to the reader to see how it ties together. As I consider this novella, I wonder if this was not his way of revealing the intriguing character of the Countess through different eyes. So one cannot easily make up their mind about her. (view spoiler)[ I have to admit that I felt sympathetic to her up to almost the end of the story. While what she does is completely heinous and terrible, I felt that her allegiance to her awful brother was no small factor in her moral failing. In the end, she seemed to merely live down to everyone's expectations of her, instead of reaching higher. Instead of staying true to what I felt was an inner cord of strength, she followed that fatal path to destruction. So I admit that in the end, I still pitied her despite her actions. I was in no small way surprised that she actually was guilty. I thought perhaps she was just a victim of a bad reputation. My feelings towards the Countess make me admire this story more for the clever way in which it was written. (hide spoiler)]
Now an impatient reader will wish for Collins to get to the point, but I rather enjoyed the journey. I found the characters interesting, all of which evoking sympathy to some extent (except the Baron, who I found totally repugnant). Collins has a way of writing characters that is quite appealing to me. Even the lesser important characters come to life and earn their screen time when they come into the scenes. I enjoyed the roundabout way of presenting a story that was actually quite chilling in parts. I appreciated how intricately the mystery builds to a satisfying climax for this reader.
In the end, I was impressed with this novella by Mr. Collins. I will read more of his work because I think he has a way of writing mystery and suspense that is timeless, drawing me into his writing and not easily letting me go. His characters have impact and come to life for this reader, not sacrificed to a greater goal of evoking horror or terror, as can sometimes happen in this genre. I for one recommend this story to fans of classic/gothic horror and suspense.