The Great God Pan – A Short Horror Classic

A short horror book review for Halloween! And what better way to start it then with a not well known Halloween classic! I mean, it’s called the scariest horror story written by Stephen King himself. And it sure is that, I just wished it was written in modern prose instead of old Victorian english.


Dr. Raymond calls his friend Mr Clarke to witness his (assuredly safe) experimental brain surgery to see the Great God Pan with his new technique. In to this experiment comes a 17-year old Mary whom Dr. Raymond experiments on, she goes mad from the proceedings. Years later a woman named Helen Vaughan causes quite a stir in her wake after her husband is killed. Then as the years go by Villiers and Clarke reunite in an effort to find out who this Helen Vaughan is.

This book was a little hard for me to read, and a little fun at times. Since its a short story (a little over 60 pages long) the characters were sprouting more exposition than character and though there was a small paragraph to set the mood, it felt too small for me to completely enjoy it. The old time language of using the word gay for a purpose it isn’t used anymore did give me a small giggle because it was used so frequently.

The story of a mad scientists and the occult is a stable of Gothic Horror. But it has also this larger than imagined monster in Pan, the ancient greek god of forests, nature and the wilderness and how he is meshed with the freaking Devil simply because he has horns. The way his power is shown is maddening from the first part of the story and then later on how it manifests. There’s also a lot of phallic and sexual descriptions that seem tame to our eyes now, because its done in a somewhat discreet language, but for the Victorian’s this was too scandalous and the book only received a new take on it in the 1920s.

The Welsh author Arthur Marchen has great scenarios and characters, but I suppose for me the hinderance came from the long expositions without any character descriptions between them like we use now. It became quite boring after a while and made me loose interest for a bit until it once again picked up with the story.

All in all a short Halloween Gothic Horror treat with a hint if H. P. Lovecraft in it with a lot of exposition, so I recommend reading a small non-spoiler synopsis before going in just to be sure you have all the information you need. Because without it you will have to look it up anyway if you don’t after reading it. Even if the book’s ending explanation is good, its written in a way that you aren’t sure what you’re reading, because your mind has juggled so many characters and scenes and murders in your head all the while that you need to read from some other source what happened.


Thank you for reading!

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