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Saturday, August 1st, 2015
11:41 am - Eleanor Scott anthology

joysilence
M.R.James needs no introduction here or anywhere else even remotely concerned with weird fiction, and many of his contemporaries and direct successors such as H Russell Wakefield or A.N.L. Munby are also still in print today. On the other hand, it is not every day that you get the chance to discover a new Jamesian ghost story writer from the old days! That's why I was excited by Oleander Press' paperback edition of Randall's Round, originally published in 1929 and until now only available for eye-watering sums of money in the original edition or the pricey Ash Tree Press reprint. Scott enjoyed some success in her day for novels and stories on a variety of topics, but is now best remembered for this collection of unabashedly Jamesian tales of terror with antiquarian and folklore themes.

Great Scott?Collapse )


You can also find out more about Scott here at The Haunted Library.

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Monday, June 1st, 2015
4:35 am - New Undertow Anthology

joysilence
I never got round to reading any issues of the new weird fiction magazine, Shadows and Tall Trees - I didn't have much money when it came out and, to be honest, I prefer my fiction in books rather than magazines. So I was pleased to see that the regular magazine has now morphed into a yearly anthology of the same name, edited by Michael Kelly. There is an arty, high-faluting vibe about the whole endeavour, with the cover blurb making the bold claim that Shadows and Tall Trees is "an anthology of exceptional literary merit". But is this so much puff or do we really have a great new contender in the world of weird fiction/horror anthologies?

It"s in the trees! It"s comingCollapse )

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Wednesday, May 20th, 2015
1:19 am - The Amber Witch

dfordoom
The Amber Witch is a German novel of witchcraft which became far better known in England than in Germany. The story behind the book is in some ways more intriguing than the book itself.

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Saturday, May 2nd, 2015
11:41 pm - The Ghost of Guir House

dfordoom
Charles Willing Beale’s 1897 short novel The Ghost of Guir House is a ghost story but it also belongs to the category of esoteric occult fiction that was so popular in the late 19th century and in fact until well into the 20th century.

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Friday, April 10th, 2015
3:27 pm - The Uninhabited House

dfordoom
The Uninhabited House was originally published in Routledge’s Christmas Annual in 1875 and thereafter remained fairly obscure until it turned up in the 1971 E. F. Bleiler-edited anthology Five Victorian Ghost Novels (published by Dover Books).

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Saturday, February 14th, 2015
12:20 pm - New Quentin Crisp anthology

joysilence
Well it has been a long time since I last posted here! Work, illness and other dismaying concerns have kept me very busy lately, but things are easing off a bit now so I thought I would break the surface to review Quentin S. Crisp's latest anthology Defeated Dogsfrom Eibon Vale Press.

I say "latest", but in fact many of these stories are quite old. I believe the collection is a sort of retrospective of those Crisp stories that have failed to appear in any of his previous books, the "non-album singles" if you like. Six of the ten stories have previously appeared in books by Tartarus Press, PS Publishing and the like, and there are also four previously unpublished tales.

Big in JapanCollapse )

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Sunday, January 11th, 2015
5:45 am - my favourite horror short story reads of 2014

dfordoom
These are the horror/weird fiction short stories I enjoyed most in 2014:

M. Burrage, The Soldier
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, The Captain of the Pole-Star
Dion Fortune, The Scented Poppies (1926)
Seabury Quinn, The Dust of Egypt (1930)
R. Wakefield, The Red Lodge

These were all stories that were new to me. I’d hesitate to recommend Dion Fortune - her stories are wildly uneven and often extremely bad but occasionally she really hit the target. I’d read a couple of Burrage’s stories before. He’s also a bit uneven but often very good indeed. Seabury Quinn is delightfully trashy and pulpy but his best stories are rather effective. Wakefield is an author I need to explore further. Conan Doyle is of course an old favourite of mine and I consider his horror fiction to be underrated.

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Sunday, October 19th, 2014
4:37 am - The Skeleton Closet of Jules de Grandin

dfordoom
The American pulp writer Seabury Quinn (1889-1969) is best known for his stories chronicling the adventures of occult detective Jules de Grandin, described on the back cover of The Skeleton Closet of Jules de Grandin as “the occult Hercule Poirot” - a reasonably apt description. The Skeleton Closet of Jules de Grandin comprises six of the Jules de Grandin stories, all originally published by Weird Tales in 1929 and 1930.

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Skeleton Closet of Jules de Grandin

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Saturday, September 20th, 2014
1:22 am - They Used Dark Forces

dfordoom
Dennis Wheatley (1897-1977) is best remembered today for what he termed his Black Magic novels. In fact they made up only a small part of his total literary output. Most of his books are non-supernatural thrillers including quite a few historical thrillers. To describe the majority of his books as straightforward thrillers would however be misleading since there is nothing straightforward about them. Wheatley’s defining characteristic is the outrageousness of his plots.

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They Used Dark Forces1

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Monday, August 25th, 2014
5:16 pm - The Occult Files Of Francis Chard

dfordoom
Yet more occult detective tales! I do seem to be a bit obsessed by this odd genre. The slim volume The Occult Files Of Francis Chard includes ten such stories by A. M. Burrage (1889-1956).

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Occult Files Of Francis Chard

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Tuesday, August 5th, 2014
1:25 am - revisiting Lovecraft - The Shadow Over Innsmouth

dfordoom
Re-reading At the Mountains of Madness recently has inspired me to revisit other H. P. Lovecraft stories, in particular his novella The Shadow Over Innsmouth (written in 1931 and published in 1936).

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Shadow Over Innsmouth_(dust_jacket_-_first_edition)

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Monday, August 4th, 2014
2:52 am - The Secrets of Dr Taverner

dfordoom
Violet Mary Firth (1890-1946) was a British occultist who wrote under the name Dion Fortune. She wrote both fiction and non-fiction. Her fiction includes a collection of short stories, The Secrets of Dr Taverner, about an occult detective and healer. It was published in 1926.

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Secrets of Dr Taverner2

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Tuesday, July 8th, 2014
3:57 am - The Complete Cabalistic Cases of Semi Dual

dfordoom
The Complete Cabalistic Cases of Semi Dual contains the first three adventures of occult detective Semi Dual, originally published in the pulp magazine The Cavalier Magazine in 1912. All three are novella-length, and all three will provide a good deal of enjoyment to pulp fiction fans.

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semi dual

x-posted to swordandsorcery

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Thursday, May 8th, 2014
1:48 am - At the Mountains of Madness

dfordoom
At the Mountains of Madness was one of H. P. Lovecraft’s few long stories. Some regard it as a novella while others consider it a short novel. Structurally it’s probably best considered a longish novella. Either way it’s the most ambitious entry in his Cthulhu Mythos cycle.
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At the Mountains of Madness1

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Saturday, March 29th, 2014
7:21 pm - Louisa May Alcott as horror writer

dfordoom
So who knew that Louisa May Alcott (author of Little Women) wrote horror fiction? Apparently she wrote at least one ghost story, The Abbot’s Ghost; or, Maurice Treherne’s Temptation (published in 1867) and in 1869 she even wrote a mummy story, Lost in a Pyramid; or, The Mummy’s Curse.

Both stories are mentioned on Tim Prasil’s blog here.

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Monday, February 17th, 2014
12:54 am - Herbert Asbury’s The Devil of Pei Ling

dfordoom
Published in 1927 and with a title like The Devil of Pei Ling you might expect this novel to be a Fu Manchu imitation. That is perhaps partly true. It does have some Yellow Peril tinges but mostly it’s a fairly straight if very pulpy occult thriller.

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Devil of Pei Ling

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Thursday, January 16th, 2014
9:46 pm - The Exorcist

dfordoom
The enormous success of William Peter Blatty’s 1971 novel The Exorcist triggered a boom in supernatural horror fiction. The film version that followed about a year later (scripted by Blatty) triggered off an equivalent boom in mainstream big-budget supernatural horror movies.

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Exorcist1

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Monday, December 30th, 2013
7:20 pm - favourite horror reads of 2013

dfordoom
My favourite horror reads of 2013:

Henry S. Whitehead (1882-1932), Voodoo Tales. Stories of voodoo, of ghosts, and assorted weirdness, originally published in pulp magazines like Weird Tales in the 1920s.

J W Brodie-Innes (1848-1923), The Devil’s Mistress. Witchcraft novel set in 17th century Scotland. Published in 1915.

Wilkie Collins (1824-1889), The Haunted Hotel and Other Stories. A superbly subtle gothic novella plus several short stories.

Alice Askew and Claude Askew, Aylmer Vance: Ghost-Seer. Psychic detective stories from the early 20th century.

Sax Rohmer (1883-1959), The Leopard Couch and Other Stories of the Fantastic and Supernatural. A fine collection of Rohmer’s weird fiction.

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Sunday, December 15th, 2013
11:14 pm - Strange Stories

joysilence
I am always on the hunt for affordable supernatural fiction, and in my quest for cheap books I have had many reasons to thank Gray Friar Press. Now here they are again, with an anthology that seems tailor-made to suit any fan of the "strange story" : Shadows Edge, edited by Simon Strantzas. This is a collection explicitly devoted to the numinous, and to the borderland between the real and the imaginary, to places where the veil separating the two has worn thin.

Borderline! Feels like I"m going to lose my mindCollapse )

By the way you can read fellow ace author Simon Bestwick's thoughts on Joel Lane's death (and life!) here.

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12:19 am - Mad Monkton

dfordoom
Wilkie Collins (1824-1889) was one of the most popular writers of the “sensation novels” of the 1860s and 1870s. These were in some respects forerunners of the true detective story although they were also heavily influenced by the gothic novel. Collins’ two masterpieces in this genre were The Woman in White (1859) and The Moonstone (1868). Mad Monkton and Other Stories is a collection of his shot stories, mostly dating from before his major commercial breakthrough with The Woman in White.

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Mad Monkton

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