Posted in Short Stories

M. R. James: Number 13

M. R. James’ story “Number 13” isn’t quite as scary as some of his other stories. There’s some screams that come from the title room of a hotel in Denmark but for the most part it’s just fun reading about the perplexity of the occupant of Number 12. He sometimes sees a Number 13 next to his room and sometimes it’s a Number 14. In case you wondered, when he sees Number 13, his room is smaller.

I don’t think any of the stories of James that I’ve read so far have been set in Denmark. Most if not all have been set in England. Comments pop up like “Such things rarely happen in Denmark…” that get a little humor out of the Danish twist. Maybe it’s more difficult to set scary stories in Denmark.

The occupant of Number 12 happens to be an historian (which by now is no surprise) who is interested in the early years of the Protestant Reformation. Through sheer genius, James gets some humor out the Protestant/Catholic conflict, too.

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