Book Review #2 – The Horror of the Heights & Other Strange Tales

Before I actually start the review, I wanted to say thanks to you folks who subscribed within the first three days of the blog even existing! Not only is it gratifying, it makes me happy. Gracias, mi amigos y/o amigas!

Now, for the fun stuff. First off, I love Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and pretty much the whole body of his work. The Lost World is officially my favorite, but his short story collections come in a close second. They were so off-the-wall and varied that you never exactly know where he’s headed with his tale. Not to mention that the chap’s perfectly brilliant.

Image(Also, I like the cover art. I’d rather like to dive into that world and stay there forever.)

In this particular book, some of his more popular short works are showcased, as well as a few of the more obscure ones. But they’re all fantastic, so I would advise you to read them all! My personal favorites are “The Brazilian Cat,” “The Leather Funnel,” and “The Parasite.”

For anyone who doesn’t know (due to dear Sherlock’s popularity), Arthur wrote far, far more than just detective stories. He was one of the early Victorian science fiction writers, and, in my opinion, one of the best. In “Horror of Heights” alone, he touches on aliens, mind control, zombies, and mummies who come back to life and insult archaeologists.

Obviously, the tone of the stories is going to be a bit more narrative-heavy than a modern collection simply because of its time-frame, but Conan Doyle did keep a better balance of showing and telling than most of his compatriots did. It’s much easier reading than Jules Verne or H. G. Wells. There’s also a lot of subtle humor woven in to keep things interesting. Now, on to a few of the strange tales themselves…

In “The Parasite,” Doyle addresses the power of the mind when Professor Gilroy finds himself under the thumb of a woman by the name of Ms. Penclosa, a known mesmerist. But that’s what a mesmerist is hired for, right? The only problem is that this one is no longer just entertaining. And she won’t let go.

In “The Brazilian Cat,” Marshall King discovers just how nasty family can be, particularly when money and panthers are involved. As a bankrupt bachelor with no hope of getting by on his own, Marshall does what any self-respecting Victorian does–he contacted his cousin Everard about an extended visit. But Marshall hasn’t the slightest idea of what he’s in for.

In “The Leather Funnel,” Doyle seems to be channeling Warehouse 13 a hundred years before it showed up. A leather funnel appears to be inducing terrible nightmares in anyone who dares sleep in the same room with it. Why?

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