My first impression and/or experience of a “Wendigo” was reading a Marvel comic, as a child, when The Incredible Hulk and Wolverine fought Wendigo. Wendigo, in the comic, was depicted as a huge and wooly beast. It had white fur, fangs and almost resembled a Sasquatch. This portrayal stuck with me so firmly that when Marvel (finally) issued their action figure Wendigo, adulthood couldn’t keep me away.
However the legend of a Wendigo goes much deeper than a comic book. A Wendigo is a creature whom lives in Native American mythology. This creature, rather wicked spirit has the capability to possess humans. The possession was founded in cannibalism. Recently, there have been different takes on this creature, from books, movies, TV shows and as noted formerly, comic books.
While many of these more recent modes of media have taken some liberties with the Wendigo legend, this classic novella by Algernon Blackwood is right on point. This story is eerie, haunting and just straight up bizarre. In addition, the tale is only about 35 pages long so boredom isn’t much of a factor.
The plot is rather simple, four men head into the northern Canadian timberland to hunt some moose. Two of these men are guides, Defago and Hank, and the other two are an uncle (Dr. Cathcart) and his nephew (Simpson). After setting up camp, the guides take their “client” and spilt up in order to chase their game. Simpson (the nephew) and his guide Defago are the focus for the majority of the story.
While Simpson and Defago are out hunting for moose they encounter some disturbing and creepy factors surrounding the myth of the wendigo. The tension between the characters and unfolding of events is actually what makes this story so spooky. It really puts a twist on the traditional “campfire tale”.
The imagery and metaphors utilized by author Algernon Blackwoodreally allow for this insidious story to shine. At the same time, Blackwood provides many details while leaving much to the imagination, like walking in a dark tunnel with a flashlight, sure everything is present but one is only able to see bits and pieces. This is essential reading for the horror fan; it will make a person think twice about that next camping trip…..