Halloween Reading: William Sloane’s “To Walk the Night”

Walk the Night 2

I was going to rhapsodize about this just-reissued 1937 obscurity (packaged with Sloane’s other sci-fi/horror novel as The Rim of Morning), but a couple hours ago, nosing around for research, I discovered Sloane certainly seems to have ripped off one of the best twists in the plot. Anyway, here’s an informed, well-done laudatory review of the novel and the horrible news about the possible swipe is mentioned in the last comment below the review. I have not read the story that Sloane may have known, but the similarities are too much to be coincidence.

EDIT: Even better, here’s a version of Stephen King’s introduction to the new reissue.

To Walk the Night disappoints some modern readers, but often they sound like folks who would nod off during classic b&w horror flicks from the ’30s. My defenses:

The prose really is lovely, maybe a shade formal, but dated only because it was written 80 years ago. Same way with the characters — yes, young’uns in their ’20s once did seem to act like middle-aged people.

The novel creeps you out because of its tone, an accumulation of tiny details made disturbing. Yes, you can guess what’s up ages before the characters but you must allow that’s because so many features of the book have been reused by later writers — I mean, a lot of features, including people who aren’t people. (Although, once again, the concept was originated in the non-religious framework by Master of Darkness Algernon Blackwood in “The Wendigo” (1910). Talk about slow-moving and indirect climaxes! but again, this is writing from a more leisurely, fondle-the-details era of reading and horror.)

Despite the bummer of the idea-copping (and Sloane does get credit for sussing out that it would work even better as scary than as a joke), To Walk the Night is a thoroughly strange and unclassifiable novel that you won’t forget. A rich bonus feature for today is to imagine how it must have seemed to readers in 1937.

One thought on “Halloween Reading: William Sloane’s “To Walk the Night”

  1. Pingback: “To Walk the Night” — Halloween Update | Miles To Go

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