BOOK REVIEW – ROBERT BLOCH – THE SEAL OF THE SATYR 1945 In The Opener Of The Way. Panther Press
Bloch’s short horror story about a man who discovers the ancient Greek deities are alive and well in the 20th century.
Visiting Greece, a man meets a mysterious, fanatical figure that talks to him of how the Greeks of old performed human sacrifices, not just in homage to the gods, but also in the hope of returning gifts from the gods such as that of immortality. The guide also tells the man that the gods of antiquity may still be seen in the present day. The traveller is sceptical, so the guide takes him to a valley where there are strange hooven footprints and an air of mystery. Here the guide produces a knife and viscously tries to kill the traveller, but the naïve hero over-powers his attacker and stabs him to death through the throat instead, albeit accidentally.
The hero finds that this merely serves as the start of his troubles as fawns and centaurs and other fantastic creatures from the myths surround him. He associates this with a mysterious seal – a talisman that he has found only in an earth tremor that accompanied the death of the man who had tried to kill him. He half-realises that this was a gift from the gods intended for the attacker, but now gained in battle by the intended victim. The hero tries to dismiss this all as crazy thinking, but when he looks into his reflection in a river, he finds himself transformed into the God pan himself. Shocked, he seems to drown himself and the story ends.
The tale thrills in the build up to the assault, but seems contrived and less convincing, as well as far from horrible in its descent into pure fantasy.
© Copyright. Arthur Chappell
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