Story 1: “O Whistle, and I’ll Come to You My Lad” by M.R. James

First off, what a creepy title for a story!  “O Whistle, and I’ll Come to You My Lad”  Ee gads! That actually just sends a few shivers down my spine by itself when I think of it in the context of horror writing.

So, M.R. James is a guru of this narrative form and this is one of his most celebrated stories, so it seems a fitting place for me to begin my odyssey into (mostly) 19th and early 20th century horror short fiction, with a few contemporary pieces from King thrown in.

I started the story last night and finished it this morning.  It was excellent!  However, it was not too frightening.  I enjoyed the story because I could identify with the horror of the principle character, but I did not experience that horror myself.  I think part of the reason was how it was written – in high 19th century Oxford English.  No fault of the author’s, in fact, no fault at all.  But it contributed to a more academic atmosphere rather than a frightening atmosphere – which, I gather, is the realm in which James’ tales will dwell.  He kind of invented the “antiquarian” genre of ghost stories, which Lovecraft picks up on.

Summary:  A professor is staying in a hotel room by a beach.  While walking on the beach he discovers a whistle, which he blows.  From them on he is haunted by visions of a thing or a person coming towards him slowly but steadily from the beach.  His sleep is disturbed in his hotel room and he discovers he is not alone.

Out of 10 stars –

Writing:  10/10

Personal Fright:  6/10

General Horror/Oppressiveness: 8/10


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