Title: The Seventeen-Year Itch
Author: Garth Nix
In: Haunted Nights (Lisa Morton & Ellen Datlow)
Rating Out of 5: 4.5 (Amazing, but not quite perfect)
My Bookshelves: Dark fantasy, Horror, Mental health
Dates read: 18th November 2019
Format: Short story
5th sentence, 74th page: He tried to smile, but inside McIndoe felt cold, and old, and frightened.
Every seventeen-years the itch reaches its peak and Stubbsy locks himself in a container. But the new manager of the psych ward doesn’t want him to be put in such an inhuman container. The consequences are nothing like she anticipated and will carry on to the next generation.
From the title of this story, I was completely expecting a story of a husband and wife which do something horrible to each other. Because, you know… it was in a collection of horrifying Halloween stories. It’s still completely horrifying. Still a creepy Halloween story… but not about a husband and wife. Not really about anything that I expected from the title. Which, of course, made me love it even more… since you know, the joys of a collection of Halloween horror tales.
We’ve all felt itchy. Actually, as I write this and reflect on the short story, I’m wearing a woollen jumper. Which five seconds ago didn’t feel so damn itchy… and now… nope, nope, nope. Expand that by ten thousand and you have the feeling that is described in this story. I think that fact that we’ve all felt the insane urge to itch makes it much easier to relate to this story. And therefore feel WAY more creeped out by it than any other story which you can’t relate to so closely.
The only thing I would say about this story – don’t read it before bed. It’s kind of creepy and full on. I’m so glad that I read this earlier in the day and had enough time to finish other stories before falling into bed. Just don’t read it before you fall asleep…