Short Story #118: The Beckoning Fair One by Oliver Onions
Title: The Beckoning Fair One
Author: Oliver Onions
SummaryA burgeoning writer, Paul Oleron rents a large and abandoned house from owners that has been empty for months. He believes the space will serve well as he is about a third into a novel that is due in six months. He moves in but slowly finds he is unable to do the work that he wants and also, that he wants to reinvent this novel—to start over and change what’s been written. His friend, Miss Bengough finds the idea revolting. She also states that he will not succeed in finishing his novel in this new place. The two carry on conversations as Oleron settles into the house (and the house settles into him) but it becomes clear that Bengough’s prediction is correct. Little progress is made. Equally strange, Benough’s visits to the house result in violence against her—first a nail (that Oleron removed but returned to the wood) slices her finger and then a stair give way and she steps through it. A strange love triangle develops between Oleron, Bengough, and the house. Bengough learns to keep her distance but continues to warn and reach out to Oleron. Oleron continues to be enveloped and scared by the strange house, which continues to keep him inside longer and longer.
ReflectionThis was one of those short-stories that were really a novella (75 pages). It had a lot going on and is definitely a story that needs rereading. However, it was compelling in the midst of it, even if it was slow in getting off the ground. The story though was a fascinating one that feels like a progenitor of so many of Stephen King’s works wherein the writer and the environment circle and weave into one another.
Short Story #118 out of 365
Rating: 4 (out of 5 stars)
Date Read: 4/19/2014
Source: The 13 Best Horror Stories of All Time edited by Leslie Pockell, Warner Books. The full text of this novella can be found at this site.
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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