Title: The Damned Thing (Chilling Horror Short Stories)
Author: Ambrose Bierce
Genre: Short Story, Horror, Science-Fiction, Classic
Pages: 6 (19-24)
The Damned Thing was originally published in 1893. I believe that in that time, this story was frightening. However, today the terror in this story has been done many times in Fantasy and Science-fiction literature, to the point where the idea of such a creature isn’t novel any more.
At first it was hard for me to get into this story because I felt no draw to read further. While old, the story is well written and easy enough to follow once it gets going. However, I didn’t really care for the style in which the meat of the story was told. I have a love-hate relationship with dialogue in any story because the amount of appropriate dialogue varies with each story; there’s no specific formula or word count to follow, it’s a hit or miss situation that not every author gets right. With that said, I found that there was way too much dialogue in this story. Most of what happened in this story is told through dialogue as one character reads his account for what happened to a group of old men. It didn’t sit well with me because I think the story would’ve been scarier to read as the events happened, not from a survivor recounting his tale to strangers. Again, back in 1893 this story would still be freaky, but overall it left me shrugging my shoulders and saying “so what?” because it was just a story of a second hand account of what happened.
While the author’s overall writing is well composed and almost lyrical, this story sort of fell short with me. I wasn’t chilled or even a little scared. It was interesting to read a story over a hundred years old, but to me it felt like the sands of time rubbed away the frightening quality of The Damned Thing. People of older generations or lovers of classics may still find this piece enjoyable for what it is. As for me, I thought it was an interesting idea and gave me some pause to consider the evolutionary steps involved to make such a creature.