The Willows, a Chilling Tale for Halloween

The Willows   by Algernon Blackwood (1907)

Tuesday’s Tale of Terror  October 16, 2018


What better story for the Halloween season than a haunted forest?  A haunted river, perhaps? In Algernon Blackwood’s The Willows there is a prevailing secret in nature. Even the landscape here is haunted. In this story, our narrator takes on a canoe trip down the Danube River. Two men come upon a location of fierce desolation and loneliness and yet everything is alive here. Even the Danube is personified—and full of tricks.  Once set up with tent and fire, the two friends settle in, until the first thing they see is something odd floating on the Danube.

“Good heavens, it’s a man’s body!” he cried excitedly. “Look!”

A black thing, turning over and over in the foaming waves, swept rapidly past. It kept disappearing and coming up to the surface again. It was about twenty feet from the shore, and just as it was opposite to where we stood it lurched round and looked straight at us. We saw its eyes reflecting the sunset, and gleaming an odd yellow as the body turned over.  Then it gave a swift, gulping plunge, and dived out of sight in a flash.


This mystery lends its own power about nature, humanity, and good old-fashion fear. I challenge the readers here not to feel a high amount of dread in the reading. This is so evocative, so sinister—an excellent mix of terror. Classic ‘quiet horror’ for Halloween reading time!



Algernon Blackwood had a persistent interest in the supernatural and spiritualism. He is famous for his occult tales and a master at chilling you to the bone. He firmly believed that humans possess latent psychic powers. His writing soars with an acute sense of place. All his fiction is charged with hidden powers. He published over 200 short stories and dozens of novels.

“All my life,” he said, “I have been strangely, vividly conscious of another region–not far removed from our own world in one sense, yet wholly different in kind–where great things go on unceasingly, where immense and terrible personalities hurry by, intent on vast purposes compared to which earthly affairs, the rise and fall of nations, the destinies of empires, the fate of armies and continents, are all as dust in the balance”  Blackwood. The Willows



Read the short story at



Listen to the audio on YouTube:




More Blackwood short stories here at Reading Fiction Blog in the above INDEX.

Don’t forget to view the INDEX above of more free reading at Reading Fiction Blog. This is a compendium of over 200 short stories by more than 100 famous storytellers of mystery, suspense, supernatural, ghost stories, ‘quiet horror,’ crime, sci-fi, and mainstream fiction.

Follow or sign up to join me in reading two short stories every month. Comments are welcome! Feel free to click “LIKE.”

Other Reading Web Sites to Visit

Kirkus Mystery & Thrillers Reviews

Books & Such    Bibliophilica   NewYorkerFictionOnline

 Lovecraft Ezine   Parlor of Horror   

Slattery’s Art of Horror Magazine   Chuck Windig’s Terrible Minds     Horror Novel Reviews     

Monster Librarian 

 Rob Around Books      The Story Reading Ape Blog

For Authors/Writers:  The Writer Unboxed


Filed under classic horror stories, fiction, fiction bloggers, free horror short stories online, free short stories, free short stories online, ghost stories, ghost story blogs, Halloween, Halloween stories, horror, horror blogs, literary horror, occult, quiet horror, Reading Fiction, READING FICTION BLOG Paula Cappa, short stories, short stories online, short story blogs, soft horror, supernatural fiction, supernatural mysteries, supernatural tales, supernatural thrillers, tales of terror

5 responses to “The Willows, a Chilling Tale for Halloween

  1. Pingback: The Haunted House in the Square, for Halloween | Paula Cappa

  2. Jay

    This story is one of my favorites too. I remember blogging about it in detail long ago. My short story “book” club at work are reading our way through The Weird anthology (which I think we’ve talked about before) but we haven’t tackled this one yet. I’m a sucker for stories that reveal a vast ‘unseen’ component of the universe, as this one masterfully does.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Blackwood never disappoints me. Ahh, yes, The Weird anthology. I know it well. Over 1000 pages, that book weighs a ton! I’d love to have the anthology in my home library; I’m waiting for it to drop in price before buying it. My local library has it so that makes it convenient to read.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. See now, this is why I don’t swim in lakes and rivers. I’m a good swimmer (really, I am), but dead bodies, cryptid aquatic things . . . too freaky! My heart rate went up a little just reading this post!

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s