Colonial Haunting in “The Doll”

Yesterday I listened to EnCrypted Classic Horror’s audiobook of “The Doll” by Algernon Blackwood. I had been looking for an ebook of this (thanks to a mention by Mudpuddle!) but couldn’t find one. So, somewhat reluctantly, I settled on this reading, complete with sound effects and creepy music box tunes. 😮

A mysterious foreigner shows up at the door of Colonel Masters’s residence. He brings a package for the old soldier and leaves without explanation. As it happens, the package contains a doll, which ends up in the hands of the daughter Monica, overjoyed at this unexpected gift. So begins the reign of terror of the doll…

This story was not nearly as spooky as I expected. Maybe that’s a good thing, since the narration was top-notch (if a bit hammy) and the sound effects quite eerie. Plot-wise, I found it rather predictable.

The most enjoyable aspect of “The Doll” was the hint at a sinister backstory involving Colonel Masters’s time abroad. Though published in 1946, this setup gives you all the feels of an Edwardian tale preoccupied with matters of conscience and a decaying empire. While there’s something to be said for leaving it to the audience’s imagination, I personally wish Blackwood had developed this further. The ending also kind of ruined it for me, painting Colonel Masters as a figure more “romantic” than terrible.

Between this and his other work I’ve read, so far I would say The Wendigo is still the spookiest. But “The Doll” certainly has its moments, and as for the audiobook, I will likely be listening to some others from that YouTube channel.

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Marian

Blogger, YouTuber, reader, and scribbler. I love classic literature, tea, and rain, preferably all at once.

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