We’re taking another step in our vampirical journey, this time the protagonist is The Singular Death of Morton by Algernon Henry Blackwood. For this segment, ABEditore with their Draculea brings us back to the dawn of the XX century with an author who is famous for his strokes full of mystery.
Blackwood, even though known for his place in the horror genre, tends to want to amaze and astonish the reader more than terrify them. We could even call him one of the masters of suspense and we will definitely be talking about him again in the future.
But that’s not why we’re here. In today’s appointment of the segment we’ve been developing in collaboration with Bloody Reader (whose article we highly recommend if you speak Italian) the main protagonist is Morton. Let’s get things rolling, then.
The Singular Death of Morton – Plot
Two men, one younger and the other a little older, are travelling just a short distance away from Switzerland. They spend the night on a strange farm called “La Chenille”, where they meet a mysterious dame who, however, doesn’t speak a single word. The woman’s behaviour, despite her great beauty, has something quite unsettling about it. As is also unsettling the way in which Morton, the older of the men, talks about her. But the night is falling once again, and with it comes an odd and dark omen.
The Singular Death of Morton is a very short story that, however, manages to leave its mark in the mind of the reader. The two men are at the centre of the entire narration and, in fact, the reader follows the “tall man” much more than they do Morton himself. His feelings are also those of the reader. The uneasiness that he feels at every step, the desire to get away, flee those lands. He can’t really explain the reasons behind it. The reader, on the other hand, might have more of an inkling.
After all, all the stories in this collection revolve around the theme of vampires and that is why we can safely assume that it would not be a spoiler to admit that there is a vampire involved in the affair. And the reader immediately has a way to deduce who the culprit might be. The appearance of the woman, after all, is very clear. Beautiful, captivating, and with the eyes of a predator. She doesn’t speak a word, and that is quite the mystery.
Why does this vampire never speak? How is this silence related to her true nature? And what does milk have to do with her spell? Is it really milk at all?
Some questions are destined to be left unanswered, it is certain, however, that the nature of this vampire is very wild. Even in the moments where she comes across as gentle, she actually has the instinct of a predator. And even if she can be likened to Carmilla in some ways, in others she is much more vicious in the way she chases the prey she chose and how she lures them in her trap only to then make a meal out of them. She follows the two men in the same way a feline would, hidden in the forest and showing only glimpses of its glittering eyes and its pearlescent smile. She’s right there, ready to attack, waiting for the perfect moment. She carefully chooses her victim, the weakest or simply the easiest to fool.
There’s something ancient about all this. It’s music that grows to a crescendo, slowly, and the tones of which become more and more relentless. The reader knows that something is about to happen. They can feel it like a cold shiver in their veins. The impeccable style of the author accompanies them, guides them inside the story and skilfully makes them relive those instants.
The story ends exactly how the title announces and the singular death of Morton leaves a mark not only on the soul of his travel companion but also on the reader.
Myth and legend are once again key. And once again, they almost seem real.