Emily Reads Horror – SHORT STORY – The Landlady (Roald Dahl)

Hey howdy heeeeeeeugh, I suck at audio editing.

When I was a child, I adored Roald Dahl’s books for children. They were fun, imaginative and far different from anything else I’d read. Wasn’t Willy Wonka evil in retrospect? He punishes kids and their parents for their lifestyle choices! He forces an entire race of oompa loompas to work for him, men, women and children, thanks to their dependence on the cacao bean! He puts the USA into a state of national emergency in the second book, then reverts Charlie’s grandparents to infancy and even sends one of them to Minusland, where she could have been eaten alive by Gnoolies!


So it wasn’t much of a surprise to learn that Roald carried this dark and devilish sense of humour into his works of adult fiction. As mentioned in the video’s description, I was too young to understand what the big deal was when I first read The Landlady. I had to hand the book over to my grandmother, who read it through, turned to me and asked,

“Do you know what arsenic is?”

Give this story a listen or a read yourself, and tell me if the ‘twist’ seemed nice and understated to you, or about as subtle as the multicolour slipstream of a stampeding Elmer the Elephant.

Personally, I like the macabre little twists in Dahl’s adult fiction. I like not knowing the fate of the characters at the ends of Neck, The Way Up To Heaven and other stories like them. And while they might not always be considered out-and-out horror stories, they do tend to send a shiver down the reader’s spine.

Now, about this reading. The first time I recorded this, I learned that the location for this story – Bath – is actually in Somerset. So the second time, I gave Billy’s porter the appropriate accent, but not the landlady herself. I’d rather do a good job with the wrong accent than a terrible job with the right accent. Also, they adapted the story for Tales of the Unexpected and they didn’t bother with the Somerset thing in that.

…Do people actually listen to these? Am I way out of my depth? Feel free to let me know. And I hope you enjoyed this reading.


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