The cycle of authors has come back around now and I’ve just finished my second M.R. James story. This one was the first short story he ever wrote apparently, and you can sort of tell by the sometimes cumbersome sentences. Still, though, he is such a masterful writer that even his cumbersome sentences are not that bad. I have to say, this story was really, really good and quite personally scary. While I’ve not had experiences totally the same as the one described by this tale, I have (once, for sure, maybe twice or even three times) experienced something akin to it – call it spiritual attack. It’s devastatingly scary stuff. So, what’s the moral? Don’t go fooling around with things that “sound cool” that you have absolutely no idea about, nor how to deal with potential consequences.
Summary: A scholar travels to a small town for a kind of working vacation and there sees a wonderful looking church which he would like to explore. Upon entering he meets with the sacristan who show him around. Eventually they make their way to the church library where the sacristan shows him all sorts of old and antiquated books that peak the scholar’s interest. One, in particular, the sacristan seems especially excited to show off. The scholar gets very excited about this book, the personal scrap-book of one Canon Alberic, and offers to buy it. The sacristan sells it to him for a pittance, and you get the sense the sacristan just wants to get rid of it. On his way out, the scholar is given another gift, a crucifix, by the sacristan’s daughter, who insists he take it free of charge. Later that same night as the scholar is studying his new found treasure, he encounters a page with a drawing of a demon that isn’t totally keen on staying in the book.
Personal Fright: 9/10
General Horror/Oppressiveness: 7/10