Saturday, October 29, 2011

"The Bad Lands" by John Metcalfe

It's always hard to discern when something strange or abnormal is occurring in a story, and especially so when the character begins the story moving to the country to cure his 'demon sickness'. I didn't know whether to think Brent was possessed/haunted before his move to Todd, or if the tower and the ominous lands surrounding it did the trick, and the details given in the story weren't really that helpful. After introducing Mr. Stanton-Boyle into the plot, I was more prone to believe that there was something truly abnormal or even supernatural about the land. Was it a tower, or was it 'old Hackney's farm?' Metcalfe may have been trying to create this question in his readers, or it may have just happened regardless. I myself don't think he tried to create this confusion, that the story created it of its own accord. Perhaps Brent brought the strangeness with him to Todd, and that Stanton-Boyle only began to feel its presence after Brent's arrival without knowing that he was the reason. There wasn't enough of a timeline in this story to really be able to pick apart such details. Or maybe that was the point? I'm not sure. Like I've said before, I'm a reader, not a writer. I don't know all their tricks. Yet..

I'm sorta ambivalent about the story; I feel like nothing really got resolved and I just feel bad for Stanton-Boyle now, who doesn't know what to believe. His own senses and memories of what he felt and saw? Or the plenty of passersby/police who claim that Brent was burning down and old barn, and there was nothing odd or out of place about it. So confusing.

Here's hoping tomorrow's story is a little more comprehensive, and hopefully a little creepier. I haven't been sufficiently scared since reading "The Willows", and I'm really hoping for some good Halloween reading.

- Justin

1 comment:

  1. Just re-read and did a synopsis on this story, myself. My thoughts are quite similar to your review although I found it to be a creepy story. It reminded me of when I was a kid and anything was possible regarding far distant scenes and objects that my parents couldn't give me explanations for. As per your review, yes, those many interpret-it-how-you-like stories are a bit frustrating, and I draw similar conclusions to you.