This story was rather a departure from what I’m used to reading from Blackwood for several reasons – it was set in a mansion, the protagonist was a child, it wasn’t all that scary nor was it meant to be, and it involved a friendly ghost. Therefore, on the one-to-ten scales below, it will rate very low on the horror and personal fright categories, but that’s fine because it wasn’t meant to frighten! This was a very entertaining well written story about that most elusive of spirits in the horror genre: the friendly, helpful ghost.
Summary: A young boy who lives in an extraordinarily large English mansion is convinced he sees something watching him just as he is about to drift off to sleep. But when his eyelids struggle open, said something is gone, whisked away. He has developed a whole milieu of ideas about this ghost, where it comes from, why it is there, and where it goes when it disappears. Where it comes from and where it goes are the same place, he is convinced – the other wing of the mansion, which is closed off and not used. So, one day, when his parents are away and his governess is on holiday (and he can easily avoid the “second-rate supervision” – loved that line! – of his nurse and the cook) he resolves to explore the Other Wing. In it he discovers much to his childish delight a whole realm of spirits, with the harmful ones trapped behind the closed doors and all presided over by the benevolent spirit of his grandfather. He returns an item of his grandfather’s to him and departs, but years later that act of kindness will be repaid, many, many times over.
Writing: 10/10 (I always think it is harder to write from a child’s perspective, but Blackwood pulls it off with aplomb here.)
Personal Fright: 1/10
General Horror Oppressiveness: 1/10