First Lines Fridays is a weekly feature for book lovers hosted by Wandering Words. What if instead of judging a book by its cover, its author or its prestige, we judged it by its opening lines? If you want to make your own post, feel free to use or edit the banner above, and follow the rules below:
1. Pick a book off your shelf (it could be your current read, on your TBR, a past read…any book you’d like) and open to the first page
2. Copy the first few lines, but don’t give anything else about the book away just yet – you need to hook the reader first
3. Finally… reveal the book!
“And if you was to walk through the bedrooms now, you’d see the ragged, mouldy bedclothes a-heaving and a-heaving like seas.” “And a-heaving and a-heaving with what?” he says. “Why, with the rats under ’em.”
I know Halloween is over, but this has been running through my head since I heard it. I’ve been listening to Josh and Chuck on the podcast Stuff You Should Know for many, many years. They do a Halloween reading every year, and this year they read this short story. I didn’t listen to the episode until after Halloween or I would have used this last week instead!
I don’t know if I’ve ever mentioned it before, but I have an abnormal fear of rodents. Sure, most people aren’t fans. But I’m “stand on the kitchen table and scream like in the old cartoons” scared. Oddly, my mom made me a mouse costume when I was little that I wore quite a few years for Halloween. I loved that costume so don’t think there’s a connection. Regardless, when I heard these lines I was very creeped out, to say the least. Seriously, I shivered in disgust.
This story was included in the author’s book More Ghost Stories in 1911. I’ve gotta say, this story has me curious about this author’s other works. I’ll hopefully find time to fit in more of his short stories into my reading schedule.
The specific story is titled Rats.
The follow-up volume to “Ghost Stories of an Antiquary” collects seven more of Montague Rhodes James’s classic horror stories, including “A School Story,” “The Rose Garden,” “Casting the Runes,” and “Martin’s Close.” ..”.gifted with an almost diabolic power of calling horror by gentle steps from the midst of prosaic daily life, is the scholarly Montague Rhodes James, Provost of Eton College, antiquary of note, and recognized authority on mediaeval manuscripts and cathedral history. Dr. James, long fond of telling spectral tales at Christmastide, has become by slow degrees a literary weird fictionist of the very first rank!” — H.P. Lovecraft”