The Wendigo (1910) By: Algernon Blackwood
A hunting party sets off into the Canadian backwoods to hunt moose. Since the moose are particularly rare, they split into smaller hunting groups to become more stealthy. One of them is with their guide and notices that he has become particularly jittery. He wanders away from the fire, becoming more pale and sniffing as he does. He is called back, but neither sleep well. Soon he awakens crying in the night.
After last year's surprise hit, The Willows, it seemed only natural to include more Blackwood this year. The Wendigo presents many of things that made The Willows great with believable characters and an excellent setting. Once more the emotion is palpable allowing the reader to place themselves inside the scenario. Unfortunately, this story ends on a much weaker note than The Willows, which itself could've used a bit more a the end.
Young Simpson is a young student on a hunting trip with his uncle. He experiences the most horror in the tale. He is also not terribly observant, and he misses much of the action.
Hank Davis is the other member of the team and Dr. Cathcart's guide. He doesn't do too much.
Dr. Cathcart is a psychologist who bring reason to the crazy events. His splash of reasoning provides some psychoanalysis that is interesting, but it destroys the tension of the piece. He is an intelligent character, which is nice in horror.
Punk is the Indian guide who doesn't count as one of the party. Casual racism rears its ugly head. This character is a solid character on his own, but is initial description really puts the time it was written to the forefront.
Joseph Defago starts out as Young Simpson's guide before he begins to slip. It is his strangeness that drives the story and his reactions that create the most suspense.
Once again, the Canadian back woods are represented with lush description. From the freezing rivers to the burnt down tress, everything is presented so you can almost see it.
In the End
The build to the end is superb, but the end itself is an incredible let down. Don't delve into this one expecting a scary ending.
While not as great as The Willows,The Wendigo is well-written and creepy. Unfortunately, that's about as far as it gets. Check it out if you enjoy weird fiction.
Get it free on Project Gutenberg and Kindle. Happy Halloween~!
Next October: 13 Days of D!