August Derleth’s short story “No Light for Uncle Henry” appeared in the March 1943 issue of WEIRD TALES. It was reprinted in a couple of Derleth collections, one from Arkham House and one from Battered Silicon Dispatch Box. It’s the first thing I’ve read by Derleth in quite a while, but I enjoyed it. It’s the story of a young man who goes to live with a bachelor uncle in a small Midwestern town. Another uncle had lived in the same house until recently, when he died. The surviving uncle gives the young protagonist strict instructions that no light is to be taken into the dead uncle’s former bedroom . . . but we wouldn’t have a story if the guy didn’t do exactly that, would we? What does he find when he steps into that deserted room and lights a match?
A sinister shadow cast on the wall, even though there’s nothing there.
I’m about as far from a scholar of Derleth’s work as you could find, but even without being that familiar with it, I get the feeling this is a pretty minor tale. The plot is fairly predictable, with the “twist” at the end not coming as much of a surprise. And yet, it’s a pretty entertaining yarn, a nice little slice of mild, rustic, Americana horror. I enjoyed it enough that I wouldn’t mind reading more by Derleth.