A blog by the staff of the Thomas Ford Memorial Library
You’ll have to forgive me if I prefer the title Hollywood gave this story when it was filmed by the great James Whale in 1932—The Old Dark House. While Benighted is fitting, The Old Dark House just captures the mood and simplicity of the plot perfectly. It’s an iconic horror motif. A fearsome storm strands five travelers in rural Wales. They take refuge in the only house they can find despite the strangeness of its inhabitants and its forbidding atmosphere. They bond together, of course, and then face an unexpected danger in the brooding old pile.
Thankfully, J.B. Priestley was no hack simply rehashing well-worn material. While the moody suspense in Benighted is exceptional and the twist in the end is mostly unexpected, it’s more than just that—the characters are shockingly full fleshed and complex. I found myself occasionally impatient with the main characters’ constant need to learn about one another, but it does add something to the novel. You might actually care a little about some of them.
Don’t expect any sleepless nights, but it’s still recommended reading for fans of old school suspense or horror.
Review by Matthew