Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Terrifying Tuesdays: Algernon Blackwood's "The Empty House"

From L. W. Currey, Inc.

The haunted house story for this week is Algernon Blackwood's "The Empty House".  Blackwood was an English author and one of the most prolific ghost story writers ever.  He was fascinated by both the occult and the outdoors, and many of his tales combine the two.  In "The Empty House", it is the supernatural which is emphasized.  A man named Shorthouse and his elderly Aunt Julia are determined to examine a supposedly haunted house in the aunt's neighborhood after she manages to procure the key.  Julia tells her nephew the story of a murder which took place in the house in the past, leading to its haunted reputation.  When she asks her nephew to accompany her in investigating the empty dwelling, Shorthouse agrees in return for her promise that she will not allow herself to succumb to fear.  He also insists that they must explore the house thoroughly from top to bottom before leaving.  This they proceed to do, slowly and methodically, all the while becoming increasingly aware that there is indeed something supernaturally menacing about the place.  This tale is supposedly based upon some of the haunted house investigations in which Blackwood himself participated.

"The Empty House" is most notable for the slow but relentless buildup of terror as the two characters move through the deserted house.  You are even left to wonder if the fear experienced by the pair was due to actual circumstances or merely figments of their imaginations.  However, the duo deserves credit for bravely following through with their investigation, and I doubt that many others would be willing to check the old house out for themselves to ascertain the truth!  "The Empty House" can be read here.  You can also listen to an audio recording on YouTube:

Happy haunted house hunting!

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