All Hallows’ Eve

Williams, Charles. All Hallows’ Eve. New York: Pellegrini & Cudahy, 1948.

Reason read: This is a spooky story so I’m reading this for Halloween, of course.

This is a love story that thrives beyond the grave. Lester and Richard were married only the day before when Lester is killed by a falling airplane. What are the chances? Now Lester is caught between two very different worlds – the living world where Richard still walks about grieving and Lester’s dead and silent world in limbo. She hasn’t made it into either heaven nor hell. Some people can sense her and some can even see her outright. Still others, she can walk clean through and they wouldn’t feel even the slightest whisper. Lester feels alone but she is not. Not really. Also killed in the bizarre crash was her living best friend, Evelyn. Both seek the afterlife forgiveness of a third girl, Betty, who Lester and Evelyn were cruel to in school. Betty is under the spell of evil in the form of her mother, Lady Wallingford, and religious and biological Father Simon Leclerc. Father Simon, better known as The Clerk, is seen as a prophet, a religious leader, a powerful orator able to sway large masses with his preaching…a devil in disguise who practices magic. He has Evelyn under his power as well. She turns out to be the evil one.

Williams is a strange author. His storytelling is dense and sometimes confusing. I likened it to hacking through a thick and oppressive jungle with a dull machete. You spend a lot of time slogging through the narrative and sometimes miss the finer nuances of the story. I found myself frequently rereading passages if only to orient myself to time and place.

Quotes (or imagery) I liked, “The two dead girls went together slowly out of the park” (p 22), and “She did not dichotomize; mechanics were not separate from spirit, nor from imagination, nor that from passion” (p 225).

Confessional: I had to look up two words from this book: sacerdotalism and susurration. Learn something new everyday.

Author fact: Williams wrote All Hallows’ Eve as part of a series called “The Aspects of Power.” It is #7 in the series and is the only one I’m reading for the challenge. for once, I am glad to be missing out.
Second author fact: Williams died following an operation.

Book trivia: All Hallows’ Eve has been compared to James’s Turn of the Screw. Second piece of trivia: T.S. Eliot wrote the introduction to All Hallows’ Eve.

Nancy said: Nancy called All Hallows’ Eve a “lost classic” (p 99); “Williams’s own spiritual beliefs lend a spellbinding conviction to the ensuing struggle between good and evil, magic and art” (p 100).

BookLust: from Book Lust in the chapter called “Ghost Stories” (p 99). True enough.

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