Tuesday, 13 October 2015

Number 13

We are the 13th of October, so for tonight's countdown to Halloween's post, I have decided to share with you a ghost story by M.R James, aptly named Number 13. It is set in a hotel/inn in Viborg, Denmark, where like in many hotels, the room number 13 does not exist. Or does it? Because slowly, the narrator slowly discovers that there is a sinister presence in the hotel, barely perceptible at first, and a room that should not exist appears in the middle of the night. Like all of M.R. James story, the seemingly mundane situation of the beginning gradually disintegrate until the gruesome climax. Because when the ghost reveals itself (sort of), he is often gruesome in the stories of M.R. James.

As for his own Oh Whistle, and I'll Come to You My Lad, another favourite of mine (read more about it here), it is a horror story set in a hotel, a fairly common trope in ghost stories. You can read about another such ghost story in a hotel setting on this post from last year. More than triskaidekaphobia (the fear of number 13), it is claustrophobia that is featured here. The bedroom of the protagonist literally shrinks as evil manifests itself. But I don't want to give too much away. You can read it on this website. If you are feeling lazy, you can also watch on YouTube the BBC adaptation from 2006, which I enjoyed too. But I would recommend that you read first the original, which is far superior, especially the climax. And please comment and tell me what you think.

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