Wilkie Collins

All posts tagged Wilkie Collins

Short Stories Challenge – A Terribly Strange Bed by Wilkie Collins from the collection Stories To Get You Through The Night

Published January 15, 2015 by bibliobeth


What’s A Terribly Strange Bed all about?:

A Terribly Strange Bed tells the story of a young man in Paris when after having a lucky break at a gambling table has a rather less than restful night’s sleep.

What did I think?:

As I mentioned in the previous reviews of this collection Stories To Get You Through The Night is split into little categories that may evoke different moods. A Terribly Strange Bed is the first story in the category: Stories to send a shiver down your spine and as I do like a bit of “creepy,” I was excited to get to this one. Our narrator is looking back on a time when he was a young man in Paris and living “a wild life,” with a friend. One night he becomes bored of the same old places and wants to experience something a bit darker and less upper-class i.e. somewhere where he can really let his hair down. This turns out to be a small (and unknown to but a few) gambling house:

“as blackguard a place, by all report, as you could possibly wish to see.”

The author sets the mood almost immediately as the men enter the room – they wanted blackguard? Well, they certainly got it in abundance, but it is a different kind of blackguard where the quiet and menace in the room was undeniably horrid. Our narrator is obviously a man who does not need to worry about money and gambles purely for his own entertainment but as he begins to play Rouge et Noir he wins. Again and again and again. Bitten by the bug, he cannot bear to leave even when his friend has had enough and wishes to go home. Our narrator plays on but by this time he has attracted the attention of an old soldier who eggs him on believing he has the possibility to ruin the croupier. After breaking the bank and amassing a hefty weight of gold, he sits down with the soldier and they drink, toasting each other with two bottles of champagne before he becomes quite drunk. Even after the soldier buys him some coffee, our narrator feels too unwell to go home so the soldier suggests he stays at the gambling house with him for the night as in his drunken state, he is likely to be robbed if he ventures onto the streets. There’s some wicked people out there after all…

Our narrator settles himself into bed but tosses and turns through the night unable to sleep. Then, all of a sudden, he notices that the top of the bed appears to be getting lower and closer to him on the mattress below. At first, he thinks it is a trick of the light or that he is still drunk and imagining it but unfortunately for him, he is not. The top of the bed continues to lower and our narrator quickly realises that shortly he will be engulfed and suffocated between the two halves.

So does our narrator escape the bed’s deadly embrace? Well, that would be telling. Did this story do what it promised – send a shiver down my spine? Well, maybe there was a slight cold feeling, I thought the build-up to what happened in the bedroom was both surprising and a little eerie and it was certainly written very well. The character of the soldier was probably the most intriguing and I would have liked a deeper insight into him, although I appreciate there are probably limits when writing a short story. It has to pull the reader in almost immediately, hold the interest and then cut them off wanting more. For me, it was a novel story for its time with a bit of a difference (in a good way) and I always admire any author who manages to surprise me. My only criticism would have to be the ending which had the potential to be so much better!

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):


NEXT SHORT STORY: Mrs Todd’s Shortcut by Stephen King from the collection Skeleton Crew

Challenge: Short Stories October to December

Published October 9, 2014 by bibliobeth

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It’s that time again short story fans! This is what I’ll be reading short story wise from now until the end of 2014.

Week beginning 6th October

 Looking Up Vagina by Jon McGregor from the collection This Isn’t The Sort Of Thing That Happens To Someone Like You

Week beginning 13th October

The Pool by Daphne Du Maurier from the collection The Breaking Point

Week beginning 20th October

Partial Eclipse by Graham Joyce from the collection Tales For A Dark Evening

Week beginning 27th October

The Fly And Its Effect Upon Mr Bodley by Michel Faber from the collection The Apple: New Crimson Petal Stories

Week beginning 3rd November

Busted by Karin Slaughter (stand-alone)

Week beginning 10th November

Nocturne by Kazuo Ishiguro from the collection Nocturnes: Five Stories Of Music And Nightfall

Week beginning 17th November

The Coffin-Maker’s Daughter by Angela Slatter from the collection A Book Of Horrors

Week beginning 24th November

The Call of Cthulhu by H.P. Lovecraft from the collection The Definitive H.P. Lovecraft

Week beginning 1st December

The Common Enemy by Natasha Cooper from the collection The Mammoth Book Of Best British Crime Volume 7

Week beginning 8th December

Note To Sixth-Grade Self by Julie Orringer from the collection How To Breathe Underwater

Week beginning 15th December

A Terribly Strange Bed by Wilkie Collins from the collection Stories To Get You Through The Night

Week beginning 22nd December

Mrs Todd’s Shortcut by Stephen King from the collection Skeleton Crew

Week beginning 29th December

Everything I Knew About My Family On My Mother’s Side by Nathan Englander from the collection What We Talk About When We Talk About Anne Frank