Niemandswasser is German for "No Man's Water," which in this novel represents an interesting variation on the theme of the Borderland as a realm where reality is not entirely solid. The story concerns a young man from the Austrian nobility who after a failed love affair, sinks into despair. To flee society, who hides out in a home by a lake whose shores border on several nations. It is in this lake that a friend of his was horribly bitten several years ago, losing part of his hand and sinking into depression himself.
One day the young noble spots a boat on the lake and asks a peasant about it. The peasant advises him against venturing out to the boat, since it is in No Man's Water. When the young nobleman inquires from one of the local teachers, he is told that not only is that part of the lake under disputed nationality but that it also appears to have a considerable collection of superstitions and uncanny stories built up around it. Out of curiosity, the young noble decides to row out there one moonlit night.
While "Real Road" was mostly a building up of atmosphere with a climax, that while intriguing was rather ambiguous, "Niemandswasser" ends with a more traditional horror story resolution. Aickman never resolves the mystery entirely, but he has crafted a satisfying horror tale.
Donald Hall (1928-2018)
3 weeks ago