Short Story #62: Green Tea by J. Sheridan Le Fanu
Title: Green Tea
Author: J. Sheridan Le Fanu
SummaryDr. Hesselius (a re-occurring character for Le Fanu) is asked by a friend, Lady Mary to take note of her friend Mr. Jennings. Dr. Hesselius is a physician but also has substantial knowledge of darker arts and regularly is asked to help with such cases. Thus, Lady Mary asks him to keep an eye on Mr. Jennings. Hesselius befriends Jennings and they find they have some common ground and interests. The two get to know each other but on occasion, Jennings acts strange. Eventually, Jennings requests Hesselius to come visit him where he explains what's been going on. Over the last four years, Jenning had been experiencing an increasingly strange event. One day, he found that a monkey with red-glowing eyes was following him about. He could not lose him and did his best to avoid him. Occasionally, the monkey would disappear but every time it reappeared, it was more aggressive and eventually, tried to urge him to do harm to others around him or himself. Jennings explains that he is fearful of the control the monkey has and while the monkey is gone for now, he's not sure when he will return. Upon hearing this, Hesselius agrees to help him out and must return to his home to research and acquire materials to help. When he returns home, he is shortly delivered a message from Jennings begging for his return. When he arrives, Jennings has committed suicide. Hessellius explains afterward that he believes it was a mixture of Jennings' state of mind coupled with his continual consumption of green tea the ways that amplified things in his mind's eye that created the situation.
ReflectionThe story is not nearly as good as Carmilla--which is a great early vampire novella. I'm a big fan of Carmilla but this story didn't hold as nearly as much appeal and intrigue, though it had its moments. Le Fanu puts in a lot of set up that I feel is a bit wasted and distracting (mayhaps being paid to write by the word?). There is little struggle or emotional turmoil within story for the reader to experience but rather we are given a backseat passive role in this story.
Short Story #62 out of 365
Rating: 3 (out of 5 stars)
Date Read: 2/26/2014
Source: The 13 Best Horror Stories of All Time edited by Leslie Pockell, Warner Books. The story can be found here on the Gutenberg project.
For a full listing of all the short stories in this series, check out the category 365 Short Stories a year.
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