The authors who can convey a sense of supernatural terror in fiction can be numbered on the fingers of one hand. Edgar Allan Poe, Le Fanu in "Uncle Silas" and "The House by the Churchyard," Oliver Onions in "The Beckoning Fair One," have conveyed eerie horror in different measures. Walter de la Mare's "The Return" is a novel of intensive atmosphere, very inadequately recognized on its first issue in 1910, must be ranked with the supreme fiction of the fearsome.
De la Mare can get utter mad tragedy into a quatrain. In a book of 300 odd pages he enters the secret places of the soul and shakes the fabric of the House of Life.
The story begins with slipshod Arthur Lawford, made more irresolute by the melancholy of illness, loitering into the graveyard at Widderstone and pondering over the almost illegible inscription:-