Dark Entries, Robert Aickman Rothdas book review RSS
3.00 Stars

A set of 6 extremely oblique stories about the weird and the strange. The stories are all written nicely enough, but I thought they suffered from an excess of detachment. In general, the protagonist of the story either A) doesn't have enough info to make sense of any of the strange events, or B) has absolutely no control/agency in what occurs. Because of this, I didn't connect with the stories and fall in love with them like everyone on GoodReads apparently has. So, in a bit more detail.

The School Friend: Contains some of my favorite characters in the book, and it has something vaguely Lovecraftian going on with corrupt family lineages/potential soul swapping or cloning or something, but there is simply not enough information in the story to really make heads or tails of it. To put it another way, if I had not read Lovecraft I wouldn't have the first clue of what is going on in the story, and the strange happenings would just be completely random happenings.

Ringing the Changes: A neat short story, but it suffers somewhat in that what is hinted at and implied in the end of the story is written out in full and explicit detail in The Barrow. The briefly shown ankle from 1960's is no longer so shocking 50 years later and after the advent of the internet, the glorious internet.

Choice of Weapons: This is like _The Passage_ in 40 pages. A young man has his mind taken over by a hypnotist, and then proceeds to follow the geas laid upon him. I felt like the narrator never really made or had any choices, which made it difficult to connect to the story. I liked the random sewings reveal though! That is if anything a good symbol of Aickman's stories.

The Waiting Room: A more traditional ghost story. Again, there is a certain detachment. The narrator does see ghosts, but he seems to comes out of the experience with nothing worse than some mild PTSD. And again, there was not much choice by the narrator, he just happened to take a nap in the wrong room.

The View: Perhaps my favorite, in that you can actually make out what is going on, and that it makes you think for a tiny bit. A sorrowful man inadvertently trades most of his life span for 3 months of pure happiness. Perhaps not a bad deal for him?

Bind Your Hair: A lady goes out to the country, and sees a strange cult ritual and some nicely creepy children. The narrator here at least has some agency, and a certain amount of the recklessness that you would more typically see in a Lovecraft protagonist.