Roald Dahl is known for his rather eerie, or at least chilling, stories, and "The Landlady" is no exception. We meet her when seventeen-year-old Billy Weaver arrives in town and decides to enquire about a room at her boarding house. He is on the porch but changes his mind, yet he is inexplicably drawn back to the door by some kind of hypnotism. Here are some things we discover about the landlady as the story unfolds:
- The landlady opens the door before Billy's finger has even left the doorbell.
- She already has a warm bed ready for him.
- She charges Billy half of what he had been willing to pay.
- She says she has lots of people who want to stay here, but she does not choose everyone. She says:
"But the trouble is that I’m inclined to be just a teeny-weeny bit choosy and particular—if you see what I mean.”
- She keeps calling Billy Weaver by another name.
- She wants Billy to come down and sign her guest book right away, as it is the law; and she is not interested at all in breaking the law, she says.
- She seems a little eccentric but harmless to Billy, who describes her this way:
Now, the fact that his landlady appeared to be slightly off her rocker didn’t worry Billy in the least. After all, she not only was harmless—there was no question about that—but she was also quite obviously a kind and generous soul. He guessed that she had probably lost a son in the war, or something like that, and had never gotten over it.
- She has not had any guests for years, and the last guests in the book have mysteriously disappeared.
- She does her own taxidermy.
- She smells like "pickled walnuts."
- This landlady is not the sweet little woman she seems, at first, to be.
I have refrained from being too specific about the last statement in case you haven't finished reading the story yet, but once you have read you will agree with me, I'm sure.