The Messenger by Robert W. Chambers
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I read this one with the Classic Horror Lovers group (albeit late), and I enjoyed it. Mr. Chambers took the time to establish the mood, the setting, and the characters. I like the way each person was given particular traits that brought the characters to life. He also established the Breton setting very well. The people are steeped in superstition, which the protagonist (Dick) frowns and dismisses. However, he would be wise to heed their warnings.
The scenes in which the 39th skull, the skull of the Black Priest, somehow continues to find it's way uphill out of the mass grave were quite scary. Also, when the masked priest shows up outside the window of Lys, Dick's wife. As were the climactic scenes and near the finish. I was sure that Dick and his wife were a goner. Oh, that last scene was quite creepy.
I liked how Chambers kept me guessing. He built up my expectation for tragedy, learning that Dick and his wife were so in love, and expecting a happy event. I was scared to keep reading, because I was sure the Black Priest was going to carry off poor Lys. I liked that Lys hung fast to her faith and didn't fear death, and her faith seemed to inspire Dick. Her actions, which seemed really superstitious, helped to save the day, which I am grateful about.
I have to say I enjoyed Mr. Chambers' writing, although some of the history aspects were a tad dry. I like his ability to build tension, and his romantic/melodramatic elements. I will be reading more of him.
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