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Monday, March 09, 2009

Reader's Diary #466- Arthur Conan Doyle: The Sealed Room

If you've noticed things getting a little British around here in recent posts, it's because next Sunday I've off to the the U.K. or Great Britain or England or whatever she wants to be called these days. I'm pretty excited and have gotten my offensive cockney accent down just roight.
This week I'm in with an Arthur Conan Doyle tale. I discovered, after reading it, that Doyle was actually a Scot. Close enough (I can get away with saying this, because I'm not visiting Scotland this time around). Besides, the story is set in London and Doyle eventually moved there anyway, so it's all good.

I picked "The Sealed Room" pretty much at random and wrongly assumed it was to be a Sherlock Holmes tale. Instead it turned out to be about a lawyer named Frank Alder and his encounter with the young Felix Stanniford, a man unable to upkeep the mansion that has been left to him, but more importantly, unable to open a mysterious door at the end of a hall. It had been sealed over with wax and Felix was specifically instructed not to open it until his 21st birthday.

While it definitely has a mysterious air about it, it is not solved in the manner of a typical mystery story. We have to be content to wait until Felix actually turns 21 (which he does by the end of the story) instead of relying on powers of deduction. With the age old premise of being scared by the unknown behind a closed door (wasn't Let's Make A Deal absolutely terrifying?), "The Sealed Room" would be more accurately called a horror story than a mystery.

While it's not really scary by today's standards, and while it is somewhat predictable, there are parts of the writing that I enjoyed. I especially liked how the opening paragraph took on added significance at the end of the story.

Have you written a post for Short Story Monday? If so, please leave your link below:

10 comments:

Allison said...

Great news about England! Where about are you headed? Say Hi to Newcastle for me. :)

Teddy Rose said...

I'm having to sit out of a few Short Story Mondays because I'm behind in my reading and am participating in another blog tour on March 17th, for Galway Bay.

Have a wonderful time on your trip John! I want to hear all about it upon your return.

JoAnn said...

This is my first Short Story Monday...hope I did the link correctly. Thanks for hosting and enjoy your trip!

Book Psmith said...

I am too jealous...have a great time in the UK. The closest I've been was a nightmarish 10 hours waiting out a storm at Heathrow to continue on to Amsterdam. I spent quite a bit of time in the bookstore:) The Sealed Room sounds good...I like stories that are 'not really scary by today's standards', so I'll have to check it out.

GeraniumCat said...

"the U.K. or Great Britain or England or whatever she wants to be called these days"...

Could I just point out that the UK, Great Britain or England are not synonymous? England?!! We Scots are prone to take offence, and the Welsh and Irish are not far behind as a rule!

Have a good time when you get to England! but I don't recommend the cod cockney if you get to Scotland.

John Mutford said...

Allison: We're going to London, Lowestoft, Birmingham, Stratford and of course, Mutford.

Teddy: Have a fun blog tour!

JoAnn: You did it right.

Geranium: I actually did know that England and the U.K. are not synonymous. I still don't know where Great Britain fits into the equation though. Sorry if I caused any offense! I'm sorry to say we won't make it to Scotland this time around. We desperately wanted to, but we sort of built the trip around visiting my ancestral grounds, and can't fit it in this time. Years ago I had booked us a trip to Scotland but ended up refunding the tickets. We weren't in a financial spot where we could afford it at the time, but I'll make it there someday.

Barbara Bruederlin said...

I hope you get feted royally in Mutford, get the choicest pick of the sheep head and such.

I am going to save this short story for next Monday, so I don't miss you as badly.

John Mutford said...

Barbara: No need for that. Through the magic of scheduled posting, I may just have a short story post up next week anyway.

Alisa said...

How embarrassing. I don't think I even knew Doyle wrote non-Holmes stories. Learn something new everyday...

GeraniumCat said...

John, not really offended (got to start using those smilies). Great Britain is England, Scotland and Wales, whereas UK includes Northern Ireland. When I first visited Canada and people asked where I was from I started out by saying "the UK" but no-one seemed to know where I was talking about - it's still my preferred term however, "Great" Britain makes me truculent. Who decided it was great? All hubris, if you ask me!

If you're in Oxford at the end of the month, I'm the one shepherding the flock of Canadians and looking harassed.