Chris's Reviews > Uncle Silas

Uncle Silas by Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu
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This is the most frightening book I have ever read. Before I picked this up, I had read some of Le Fanu's short fiction, the ghost stories based on Irish legends, and, of course, CARMILLA. This book, however, is horrifying. Too often, writers and directors of horror regie solely on blood and gore to convey fear. For me, it doesn't work. All it conveys is a love of gory. Such gore might not make me hungry, but it doesn't scare me.

Le Fanu relies on mood and atmosphere to get the job done. He also relies on one other key thing, and it is this that really gets the job of creating the tension and fear. That ingredient is Knowledge. The reader knows, but Maud doesn't, what is going to happen. The reader knows it completely and utterly. Instead of making the book pointless, this knowledge carries the tension and fear. A reader reads in the height of almost panic because of this knowledge. Usually such knowledge doesn't work. The monster is always scarier when we can't see it. Le Fanu found a way to show us and not show us the monster. It's brilliant.
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message 1: by Werner (new) - added it

Werner There's a movie or miniseries version of this (either a Masterpiece Theater or BBC production, I think --it's years since I saw it), titled Dark Angel. I enjoyed that production a lot --except that I thought that, while Maude is a fine, spunky heroine, the hero was kind of an ineffective milksop who came across as fairly useless. The villain, on the other hand (who was brilliantly played by Peter O'Toole), pretty well stole the show. :-)

The library where I work has a copy of the book. I'm tempted to put it on my to-read shelf --though, heaven knows, if that weren't a virtual shelf, it would long since have broken with the weight it's carrying already!


Chris Werner wrote: "There's a movie or miniseries version of this (either a Masterpiece Theater or BBC production, I think --it's years since I saw it), titled Dark Angel. I enjoyed that production a lot --except that..."

Thank you. I didn't know they did one. I know that Masterpiece Theater/BBC adapted the Wyvern Mystery, which was no where near as good. I'll look for it.


message 3: by Werner (new) - added it

Werner You're welcome; hope you can find it on DVD or VHS, and that you like it! I'm not familiar with the other work you mentioned --I'll have to look into that one. :-)


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