While in high school I found second hand copies of H. G. Wells’ classic works: The Invisible Man, The Island of Doctor Moreau, The War of the Worlds, and The Time Machine. I was completely entranced. Wells’ writing is so matter-of-fact, it sounds convincing. I can understand why people panicked when The War of the Worlds was dramatized on radio!
The short stories collected in The Valley of Spiders have that same convincing quality, but lack the imagination of his major works. Of the 13 stories, only two stood out:
- “The Story of the Late Mr. Elvesham” is a disturbing tale of waking up in someone else’s skin. Wells conveys the horror of coming to grasp just what has happened brilliantly.
- “The Door in the Wall” mixes childhood memory and adult disillusionment in one unforgettable package.
Besides these two shining lights, the collection falls flat.
—H. G. Wells, The Valley of Spiders (London, Great Britain: Fontana, 1964).