Capturing the dangerous and unforgiving cruelty of the wilderness while simultaneously conveying its beauty and ability to enchant humanity in the industrial age, Wendigo
brilliantly plays upon the fears and insecurities of the civilized, urbanized (wo)man of the 20th century. A group of experienced woodsmen and hunters set off on an expedition to hunt moose in the cold and lonely forests in the northern part of America along the border with Canada and end up being the prey of a long forgotten terror. Combining what were surely novel and frightening scientific theories like Darwinism with Native American mysticism and lore, Blackwood's tale is the unique product of the early modern West coming to terms with the sometimes perplexing and "magical" forces of nature not fully understood while shedding the veil of superstition that draped over the reasoning minds of the 18th century. In this era, surely there were pockets of the world that had escaped the conquest of reason and science and Blackwood takes full advantage of the imagination and impressionability of an audience divorced from the wild and unconnected with it to a degree unheard of in previous eras.
This is a great camp fire story or something to read when the wind is blowing and the rain is falling outside and it's so brief too. The story is an archetype of many that would follow from the sacred like The Thing
or The Terror by Dan Simmons to the profane (yes The Relic
, I'm looking at you and you too The Ruins
captures what was surely the essence of countless campfire tales as settlers expanded through the American wilderness and then subsequently lost with the realization of Manifest Destiny.