ALL HALLOWS (1926) – Written by Walter de la Mare. In recent decades Walter de la Mare’s horror stories have begun to get as much attention as his poetry. This particular tale is about a haunted cathedral but there is also a blatant subtext.
Our narrator has walked for several miles to reach remote All Hallows Cathedral. The once-prominent place has fallen into disrepair and has become so rarely used for religious services that it has become more of a curious tourist attraction than “holy” site.
Appropriately for a horror story our protagonist has arrived as the sun is going down. The odd, perhaps half-crazed Verger (Anglican Church Caretaker) impatiently leads the new arrival on a tour of the degenerating interior. Almost like a Halloween Funhouse host the Verger emphasizes the creepy lore about All Hallows.
Nightfall is well along by the time he tells the narrator about the temporary disappearance of the previous chief clergyman, who was later found in a dark corner. The Holy Man was weeping and crazed and never recovered his sanity.
All Hallows Cathedral had seen much use for nearly three hundred years, but now – so the Verger explains – the gradual diminishment of faith felt by the dwindling worshipers has made the structure too weak to dispel the unwholesome forces that have been assuming more and more control. (“Message for you, suh.”)
The Verger introduces his visitor to some of the inexplicable and sinister powers that long to destroy those who dare to remain in All Hallows after dark. Insectoid buzzing, phantom cannabis smokers and seemingly solidified darkness are some of the frights in store.
Not only that but unfathomable millwork and metal-working are being performed by the infamous and eldritch “crew that never rests” and unearthly animal life seems to hover on the outskirts of the pair’s peripheral vision.
The most tangible evidence of the unknown workings of the nightly crew is the way in which subtle, sinister changes are noticed in the cathedral’s once-holy sculptures and architecture.
The now clearly unhinged Verger seems convinced that a human sacrifice to the Christian God may be needed as a sufficient show of faith to drive out the invading presences.
All Hallows is a fairly enjoyable READ, but I don’t know if it would translate well to any sort of screen presentation. The excellent writing takes the reader’s imagination into very unwholesome places and I doubt that any visual depiction could live up to the horrors that de la Mare inspires us to picture. +++
FOR ISABELLA OF EGYPT, FEATURING A GOLEM, A MANDRAGORE, A LIVING DEAD MAN, A GYPSY WITCH AND A JEWISH SORCEROR CLICK HERE
FOR MORE HALLOWEEN ITEMS CLICK HERE: https://glitternight.com/category/halloween-season/
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