Tag Archives: Legends

Sensing Something Wrong: A Review of The Wendigo

The Wendigo by Algernon Blackwood book cover. Image on cover is a drawing of a horned, hairy creature standing on it’s back feet. It looks like a large goat. Title: The Wendigo

Author: Algernon Blackwood

Publisher: Eveleigh Nash

Publication Date: 1910 (and republished on April 21, 2022)

Genres: Fantasy, Horror, Historical

Length: 74 pages

Source: I received a free copy from the author.

Rating: 5 Stars

Blurb:

Algernon Blackwood’s “The Wendigo” tells the story of a camping trip in the Canadian wilderness that goes horribly wrong when the hunters become the hunted. Drawing on the mythical creature known as the Wendigo, this story is regarded by many critics to be one of the best horror tales of all time.

Review:

Content Warning: Racism. I will discuss it in depth in my review.

Forests aren’t friendly to everyone.

Some of my favourite scenes were the ones that explored the various reactions people can have to being in the middle of the woods. What is peaceful and wholesome to one person could be mildly unsettling or even downright terrifying to another based on their previous experiences with nature and how much they know about all of the sounds that occur when one is in the middle of nowhere and can see nothing byt trees stretching out in every direction.

Horror doesn’t have to be gory or gross. There wasn’t single drop of blood in this tale, and yet it made me shudder all the same. I appreciated the slow buildup as the characters walked deeper into the woods and further away from anyone who might help them. That methodical pacing gave me plenty of opportunities to imagine what might happen next and to chew on the clues I’d already discovered. The slower and quieter scenes were exactly what the storyline needed in order to flourish. Some things are much scarier when they’ve been given time to marinate in your thoughts, and this is one of them.

I wanted to make note of the racism mentioned in the content warning. This story was written in 1910, and the author had some truly odd ideas about First Nations people and their mystical connection to nature that many white people of his era believed. In no way am I trying to excuse the offensive nature of those passages or his bizarre beliefs about how one’s race should influence what one does in the woods, only to say that the world has changed for the better since it was written and I think the author was trying to be complimentary with those descriptions based on the historical time in which he lived. While I am generally able to shake my head and ignore ridiculous stuff like this in old books, I did want to let my readers know about them in advance so you can come to your own conclusions about whether this is something you want to read.

With that being said, I loved what Mr. Blackwood did with his characters, especially Punk, a First Nations cook and guide for the group, later on in the storyline. Their character arcs were memorable and made a great deal of sense given what they found in the woods and how everyone reacted to that experience. It made me wonder what would have happened if Dr. Cathcart, the protagonist, had been more interested in cultures outside of his own. This was one of those cases where a little communication would have gone a long way, but certain cultural assumptions made that difficult. I found myself wondering how the storyline might have changed if it were instead told from the perspective of Punk after he realized that the white people he was accompanying through the woods had accidentally discovered something horrific.

The Wendigo was a delightfully chilling tale.

In Pursuit of Justice: A Review of The Gest of Robyn Hode & Little Joan According to Alaina of Dale

Book cover for The Gest of Robyn Hode & Little Joan According to Alaina of Dale by T J Therien. Image on cover is of an arrow with a green background. Title:The Gest of Robyn Hode & Little Joan According to Alaina of Dale

Author: T J Therien

Publisher: Self-Published

Publication Date: May 30, 2019

Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy, Historical

Length: 83 pages

Source: I received a free copy from the author.

Rating: 3 Stars

Blurb:

The story as you know it is a lie. Discover the true origins of the Robin Hood legend in this fast paced Novella that takes our titular character back to the roots of the early ballads.

Review:

Content warning: violence, murder, and attempted rape. I will not be discussing these things in my review.

Everyone deserves justice.

I appreciated how courageous many of the characters were, especially when it came to fourteen-year-old Robyn and Wilma, the woman who saved her from a pretty dangerous situation in one of the earliest chapters. The era they lived in definitely wasn’t a kind one for women or anyone living on the margins of society for reasons I’ll leave up to other readers to discover for themselves. It was cool to see them look out for one another in an environment where drawing attention to oneself could have so many negative repercussions.

This story had a large cast of characters that I had trouble keeping track of. There simply wasn’t enough room for me to get to know everyone well enough to immediately know who they were and how they were connected to everyone else when they popped up again after not being part of the plot for a while. It would have been nice to focus on a smaller number of folks and maybe save the rest for a sequel, if such a thing is in the works.

Some of my favorite scenes were the ones showing how Robyn, Wilma, and the other people who met up with them worked together to solve problems that seemed insurmountable. These weren’t the types of folks who the money or social connections to pull strings behind the scenes. Every bit of justice they hoped to seek would only come about through cooperation, a ton of hard work, and maybe a little luck as well. Those are exactly the sort of heroes I enjoy reading about.

Anyone who loves the original Robin Hood tales should check out The Gest of Robyn Hode & Little Joan According to Alaina of Dale.

Saturday Seven: Rabbit Tales

Saturday Seven is hosted by Long and Short Reviews.

Happy Easter to everyone who is celebrating that holiday this weekend! Rabbits are the first thing I think about when Easter comes to mind, so I thought I’d talk about them today. Since rabbits are my favourite animal of all time, it always makes me happy to see representations of them in books, cards, plush toys, candies, and so many other places at this time of the year.

The vast majority of the stories out there about rabbits are bedtime stories written for young children. I genuinely have no idea why that is the case. Today I tried to come up with as many examples as possible of books that were written for older audiences. No one is ever too old to like rabbits, and there are many different ways to write about this animal.

I mean, I’ve been a proper adult for years now, but I still get irrationally excited whenever a rabbit is nearby. They’re such soft fluffy, and often hilariously stubborn little creatures. If not for my unfortunate allergy to them, I’d have at least two or three of them hopping around my house and getting into mischief right this minute.

The Tale of a Fierce Bad Rabbit by Beatrix Potter

Nearly everyone has heard of Peter Rabbit. If you liked that story, you might really enjoy the author’s less widely known works, too. What I appreciated the most about The Tale of a Fierce Bad Rabbit was that all of the naughty things the rabbit did in it happened for a reason. He was a smart little creature who knew exactly what he was doing and why he was doing it.

The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams

Make sure you have a full box of tissues ready to go ahead of time. This is a real tearjerker, but it’s also one of my favourite stories of all time. For anyone who hasn’t heard of it, it’s about a toy rabbit who was deeply loved by a little boy. After the boy was diagnosed with scarlet fever, all of the toys in his room were sent away to be burned to prevent the spread of that awful disease.

What happened to the toy rabbit next is why I read this tale over and over again.

 

Zomo the Rabbit: A Trickster Tale from South Africa by Gerald McDermott

This was a story I accidentally stumbled across at my local library a few weeks ago. I’d never heard of the legend of Zomo the Rabbit before, but I loved seeing how he used his wits to outsmart creatures much larger and stronger than he was.

Watership Down by Richard Adams

I know this isn’t the first time I’ve talked about Watership Down on a Saturday Seven post, but it simply had to be included in this week’s list.

The bunnies in this story were courageous and kind. This was almost like a rabbit’s version of The Hobbit or some other epic adventure that required facing many dangers before the heroes had any hope at all of accomplishing their mission.

Disapproving Rabbits by Sharon Stiteler

Many years ago, there used to be a blog called “Disapproving Rabbits” that shared pictures of rabbits looking surly, annoyed, or like they disapproved of everything their humans were doing. That site sadly no longer exists, but this book is a collection of many of the photos that were featured on it back in the day.

The Rabbit Listened by Cori Doerrfeld

The empathy in this story was beautiful. Grief and loss are difficult subjects for many adults to talk about, so I loved the fact that the authors wrote something explaining those things to young children who are even more bewildered by them than us grown-ups are.

Stories Rabbits Tell: A Natural and Cultural History of a Misunderstood Creature by Susan E. Davis

This is a book that I’ve actually been trying to get ahold of for quite a while now, although I’ll almost certainly skip the section about how and why rabbits are slaughtered for human consumption. With that being said, learning more about the history, sociology, and folklore of rabbits appeals to me quite a bit in general.

Have you ever had a pet rabbit? What is your favourite animal in general?