Thursday, September 13, 2012

"Casting the Runes"

"Casting the Runes"
from Ghost Stories of an Antiquary, Part 2, by M. R. James

Overall, I liked it much better than "The Tractate Middoth".  There are amazing coincidences again, but we'll just have to look past those, I think.  There are also some rather clunky transitions.  ("It is not necessary to tell in further detail blah blah blah." ... "The next scene that does require to be narrated is such-and-such.")  However, I'm not so great at making seamless transitions, myself, so I'm very forgiving of such shortcomings.  ;o)

I could describe / refer to the creepiest moments, but that would only ruin them for any reader who hasn't read the story.  That leaves me with little more to add...  I can say that the story isn't really a ghost story, by the strictest definition.  As is so often the case with these old tales, I think I can identify some more modern works that have taken inspiration from this one.  Either that, or those elements are universal enough that many writers have simply naturally come up with them on their own.

 --  The scary slide show (magic lantern show) feels very familiar... Reminds me of that tunnel scene in the old Willie Wonka movie-- only many times creepier. 

-- Why would Karswell warn Dunning with Harrington's name?  That just doesn't make sense at all.  The only reason I can come up with is that he meant Dunning to learn some of what happened to Harrington-- enough to fear that something similar may be happening to him, too-- but not enough to figure out that there might be a solution to his troubles.  Still, it just seems like an unnecessary risk on Karswell's part.  I see why James needed Dunning to have this extra clue, but it doesn't make sense from the character's point of view, and I think there were other ways of bringing Harrington's brother into Dunning's acquaintance.  ~shrug~