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Posts Tagged ‘horror’

Sneak Peek at a Haunted House, Noir, Lovecraftian Horror mashup by Peter Guy Blacklock – an Exercise in cliché Management

Posted by Harbinger451 on June 2, 2018

The Horror of it All CategorySneak Peek at a Haunted House, Noir and Lovecraftian Horror mashup by Peter Guy Blacklock – an Exercise in cliché Management

I’ve always wanted to write my own version of the classic haunted house mystery/horror trope, one that would bring in elements of hard-boiled Noir and sanity shredding Lovecraftian Horror. I was inspired to finally write it when I happened upon an article on Wikipedia about the often-mocked and parodied first line cliché “It was a dark and stormy night“, which mentions a literary competition that challenges entrants to compose “the opening sentence to the worst of all possible novels” – the first bout of which to be published uses the aforementioned opening so often employed by the Snoopy character in the Peanuts comic strip – among others. A good idea, I thought, but a much better and, it has to be said, tougher exercise would have been to write the first paragraph that rescues a clichéd opening by turning it into a potentially good one. I set myself that very task and it led to me writing the following first chapter of what, I hope, will be a novella I can publish. At the very least I will be publishing the subsequent chapters of this novella on my Patreon page as and when I write them.

Of course, these days the sub-genres of haunted house, Noir and Lovecraftian – though original once – have now become bogged down in clichés all there own. Many writers believe that clichés should always be avoided (like the veritable plague in fact) but I tend to disagree. Clichés have their place in fiction like they do in real life. Good fiction, especially genre fiction, will always be an exercise in cliché management, you can choose to never use them or you can learn to play with them – you can subvert them, use them for your own ends or use them to mess with your audience’s expectations… the world is your oyster – to paraphrase Shakespeare.

So, without further dilatoriness, here is my exercise in cliché management (titles are provisional) …

The Hell House on Haunted Hill

[or]

Justifiable Homicide

By Peter Guy Blacklock

Chapter One: There’s A Killer on the Road

It was a dark and stormy night, the cliché goes, and suddenly, as it oft continues, a shot rang out.

Of course nights are invariably dark, but this one was particularly so, and the storm that raged was uncommonly vicious – it was the right sort of night for the wrong kind of outcome. The shot ripped a red hot slug of metal through the rain swept windscreen, then it screamed past Lofty’s head, tearing a chunk of flesh and cartilage from the tip of his right ear. Lofty braked hard and the big Lincoln-Zephyr four door sedan messily skidded to a halt down the sloping muddy lane, veering toward a waterlogged ditch that lurked at the bottom of the incline as the lane took a sharp left. The big automobile only barely stopped short of the ditch.

Lofty could see nothing through the opaque fanning of fractured glass that was the holed windscreen – though the wipers kept up their frenzied metronomic flailing regardless – and the blackness through the rest of the car’s windows was almost complete, like they were mirrors on a murderer’s soul. His hand instinctively rested on the butt of the snub-nosed Colt Detective Special in his shoulder holster as he listened, alarmed and alert, but in that moment the pounding of torrential rain and the gusting wail of the wind was all that he could hear. A sharp flash and flare of lightning split the sky with a monumental crack of thunder and to his left he briefly saw the pale and sodden figure of a young woman stumbling toward him down the backwoods lane.

Winding the window down to his left, Lofty reversed and turned the Lincoln to shine the headlights down the lane and he leaned out, peering into the tempestuous downpour. The bedraggled woman, dressed in a sheer white gown entirely unsuitable for a night such as this, staggered toward the twin beams. Her distress was manifestly evident in her gaunt and distraught face. She stumbled and fell hard to her knees just short of Lofty’s car then stared wide eyed at him, big beautiful eyes pleading, with hands outstretched, begging.

“God damn it!” Lofty exclaimed under his breath. Acutely aware that another shot could come tearing his way at any moment; the big man, lean and muscular, got out of the car and bundled the slight and shivering woman up in his arms. Hunkering low he carried her slim and, he couldn’t help but notice, shapely form and got her into the expansive back seat of the Lincoln, wrapping her in the blanket that was back there.

“Hit a tree!” She said breathlessly between gasps and shivers as he got in beside her and lent forward over the front seat to close the side window there. “Tire blew out, lost control and hit a tree!”

She didn’t look like she had any injuries, except perhaps for a pair of grazed knees.  Lofty pulled a hip flask from his Jacket pocket and offered it to her. “Here, Sister,” he said, “have a snort of sour-mash, it’ll take the edge off.”

She took the flask with a half smile and a rather pouty lick of her lips. “Thanks, Gee,” she said taking a swig, “but my edges were rubbed off a long time ago.” She coolly looked at him then pointed to his bloodied ear, “What happened to you?”

Just as coolly, Lofty pointed to the little round hole at the top of the windscreen through which the wind was now whistling. “Someone took a pot shot at me, coming down that incline.”

“That’s where my tire blew, just managed to get round this bend before careening off the road.” Her forehead furrowed slightly as she raised a concerned eyebrow. “You don’t think someone was trying t’ drill me too, do ya?”

He was pretty damn sure someone was. “We better get out o’ here.” He said as he clambered awkwardly from the back of the car to the front.

“My, but you’re a BIG galoot, aren’t ya?” she said expressively, “All strong arms an’ long legs.”

The V-12 was still loudly purring under the hood as he got back into the driver’s seat and took the hand-brake off; easing the engine on into a growl the Lincoln soon picked up speed. He punched his fist through the shattered windscreen directly in front of him so he could at least have some idea of where he was going. The left wiper finally gave up the ghost and jammed half way up.

“Wait, wait!” the young woman suddenly exclaimed. “My things, in the car… I can’t leave them here.”

He quickly glanced back at her with a steely glare that revealed a slight flash of anger.

“Everything I own is in that crate – I can’t abandon it all, someone might glom the lot and it’s all I have in the world!” she insisted, her own steel matching his.

Lofty caught a glimpse of what looked like a brand-new maroon ‘47 Ford 2-door convertible rammed into a tree and he braked suddenly, sending the blanket wrapped young woman in the back sliding forward, she slipped clean off the seat with a startled yelp.

“What am I getting?” he said tersely but the flicker of anger had entirely vacated his granite chiselled features. He had a cleft chin and high cheekbones with the kind of lazy sad eyes that had seen far too much of the world.

Sitting herself back in the seat she said, “There’s a case and vanity in the foot well on the passenger side and a pocket-book in the glove compartment… oh, and a clutch-purse, a fur stole an’ jacket, and a folio on the passenger seat too.”

He looked back at her, and with a hint of sarcasm said, “Is that all?” He guessed she was about twenty but she could have been a couple of years either side of that. She had a knowing face and an easy air, a self assurance that he liked a lot.

“Yep,” she said pertly, and not short of sass she added with ironic demure, “I’m a simple gal of modest means.”

Lofty backed the Lincoln up a little, and then eased himself over to the passenger side. The convertible’s door was already wide open so when Lofty opened his door full the two doors met. “Open your door too,“ he said to the girl, “an’ I’ll pass all your worldly goods to ya.”

Staying low the big man quickly went to her car, it still had that new-car smell, the thought intruded, and all her luggage looked pretty damn new too, “and not cheap” he mumbled as he started lifting and schlepping them to her.  Case, vanity, pocket-book, clutch, folio and then he threw the stole and jacket – white fox fur, very expensive – right in after them. “Modest means?” he said, then “Quite the doll, aren’t ya.” as he got back in the Lincoln.

“They were a gift… from a friend.” she said, “Not that I need to explain myself to you.”

“No, you’re right – ya don’t.” Doors closed, hand-brake off and they were on their way again. “I apologise.” He said, peering through the fist sized hole and the still pouring rain.

“Apology accepted.” She said. “We’re both a bit nervy that’s all. Got any butts on ya? I’m gasping.”

Three rapid flashes of lightning, accompanied by positively cataclysmic claps of thunder, bleached the whole of Essex County, if not the entire State of Massachusetts, for a brief second or two – it was all stark woods, dank marshes, unwholesome creeks, and small, isolated, barren-looking farmsteads.

“I’ve got almost a full deck in my inside pocket,” he said, negotiating a series of tight bends, “if you can reach round and get ‘em – don’t want to take my hands off the wheel at the moment.”

“Sure thing, Gee.” She said, and she did.

“Flare one up for me too, will ya, Doll?” He glanced at her with a droll but intimate grin.

“Sure thing.” She replied with a coy smile, then lit the two cigarettes simultaneously with a lighter pulled from her purse, and reached forward again to place one of them in Lofty’s mouth. “So what’s your name, Gee?” Her face was level with his now and he felt her warm breath on his cheek as she spoke.

“Robertson,” he said, drawing in on his cigarette, “Mitch Robertson – but most folk call me Lofty.”

“Lofty!” she laughed. “Your friends aren’t the most original are they?”

He laughed too, “Nope,” he said, “but that’s soldiers for ya – I got the name in the army and it stuck.”

“You a G.I.?”

“Was.” He said. “82nd Airborne Division, 505th P.I.R., Sergeant First Class.”

“Sergeant First Class!” She said, seemingly impressed. “What does P.I.R. stand for?”

“Parachute Infantry Regiment.”

“A paratrooper!” Again, she seemed impressed. “You must have been in the thick of it during the war, did you see much action?”

He nodded and said, “Some – Sicily, Italy, Normandy… all the way through to Germany.”

“Damn!” She said, but sensed his demeanour turn; he had visibly tensed up at the close of her question.  She had seen enough young men back from the war in the last two years to understand. Some wanted to talk about it, but most didn’t; she had learned it was best not to push, for many were broken – inside as well as out. She changed the subject, “So, what do you do now… for a living I mean?”

“I’m a gum-shoe, but it’s not much of a living.” He said.

“You’re a Johnny Buttons?” She was a lot less impressed this time and simmered a palpable hostility at the very idea that he might be a police detective.

“A Private Op.” He qualified.

“Oh, a P.I. – you must be a glutton for punishment, couldn’t leave the excitement and danger behind when you were demobbed, is that it?”

Lofty laughed, “Believe me, it’s not that exciting – it’s not like it is in the movies or some dime-novel ya know, it’s cheating husbands an’ wives mostly. What about you, what’s your story?”

“There’s not much to tell,” she said rather defensively, “I was a hostess for a while, I’ve done a bit of modelling, a bit of dancing – chorus line… tried a bit of acting, ya know, this an’ that.”

“Well, you seem to be doing alright for yourself – new car, Chanel bags and Arctic Fox furs – you must have quite the benefactor?”

“Hey!” she said, offended. “What are you implying?”

“I’m not implying anything… hell, we all have to do what we have to do to get by in this world – I’m in no position to judge anyone in those regards – think I can afford a bus like this on twenty-five dollars a day plus expenses?”

“Humph,” she said expressively, “still sounds like you’re implying something to me,” though now she was more feigning offence than taking it.

“There’s a gas station up ahead, we better stop an’ tell ‘em about your wreck back there… may be call the local Clubhouse, tell the cops that there’s some kind o’ lunatic taking pot shots at people.”

Lofty spent all of five minutes out of the car while she bit her thumb inside it. She could see him and the attendant gesticulating to each other, getting directions she presumed, but the raging storm meant she heard none of it. The attendant took his time filling the tank. There were some more gesticulations.

“Damn this godforsaken place!” said Lofty when he got back in the Lincoln, slicking his Brylcreemed black hair down. “Didn’t have a phone – hell, I doubt they even have cops out here anyway… the place is a total back water.” He sat there a moment, thinking, then said, “We’re not too far from my destination… is there any where I can take you – where were you heading? Cause I have to say, there’s not much of anything round here,” he turned to look back at her, “and I can’t figure what a big-city gal like you is doing all the way out here?”

“Ah, well… this big city gal just happens to have been born all the way out here. I was orphaned at age four and sent to distant relatives in Boston,” she said, a hint of bitterness in her soft caramel voice, “at twelve I was sent to even more distant relatives in New York, been a big-city gal ever since.”

“Go figure,” he said, “so was I, born all the way out here that is. Got drafted into the army in 1940, 23 years old and fresh out of M.U., saw the world and opened my eyes… after the war I moved to the big city myself – San Francisco. Really never thought I’d ever come back here.”

“Me neither,” she said, “but I’m here… got an offer I couldn’t refuse. Some great, great uncle I’d never heard of up an’ died and left me some kind of inheritance or bursary.”

“And you’ve gotta attend the reading of the will to receive it?”

“Yes, how’d you know?”

Lofty delved into an inside pocket, “Me too.” He said as he handed her an envelope.

She took it, it was already opened but a letter was still inside, she removed the letter and read it. “This is the same letter I got,” she said, “word for word I think, except my name in place of yours.”

Lofty asked, “Do you still have the letter you received?”

“Sure,” she said and retrieved it, her’s too was still in the envelope, which was now folded in half, she pulled it from her pocket-book then handed it to him with his own letter.

He studied the two envelopes, written in the same hand and with identical post marks indicating they originated from Ipswich, a small town about three or four miles further up the road, and both dated October the 13th, about two weeks ago. Her’s was addressed to Ms. Martha Woodstern, 118a, Rapelye Street, Red Hook, Brooklyn, New York. The letters themselves were indeed identical, except for the names, and they were both typed – probably on the same machine – and the rather shaky signatures matched too, from a William Castle, apparently the last surviving child of the unknown great, great uncle.

“Well, Ms. Woodstern,” he said handing back her letter, “it looks like were related, if somewhat distantly.”

“And this William Castle bird, that were going to meet, if he’s our great-uncle… how old must he be?”

“He’s 87… I looked him up, spent the last couple of days back in Lynn and then Salem, at the Public Libraries and the Records Office; he’s from a rich family that has a long and complicated history, of both Scottish and English descent. How it all relates to my family tree, I have no idea.”

“If he’s 87?” She exclaimed. “How old was great, great Uncle Wilbur when he died?”

“He was 109 by all accounts.”

“Damn, talk about charmed lives.”

“Like I said, they’re rich. Have been for centuries – old Wilbur’s father, in the 1830’s, paid to have an old Scottish baronial castle moved stone by stone across the Atlantic and rebuilt here, on the site of some deserted colonial village with its cemetery and an old abandoned mine that  he’d managed to acquire – caused a hell of a stir… but young William still lives in that castle to this day. That’s where we’re heading now, Castle House.”

Martha laughed dryly, “So William Castle actually lives in a castle, and I was born to humble farm stock who’d worked themselves to death trying to feed me…  where’s the connection?”

“I’m not sure, couldn’t find a connection to me either.” Lofty pondered “It makes me wonder how many more prospective distant relatives are on their way to this Last Will and Testament reading?”

After a moment’s silence Martha asked, “How much further is it?”

“Not far up this road there‘s a turn off to the right, we take that and it loops back through the woods and salt-marshes to where Castle House is, toward the coast. It should take about fifteen or twenty minutes.” Lofty eased the Lincoln’s V12 back into a growl and they set off from the gas station.

Castle House was actually an early 16th century Tower House and courtyard, a particularly big one, with two 17th century towers at alternate corners of the massive keep-like house. It sat at the top of a long low hill with an old graveyard sloping down the right side toward the marshes and a ruined church and village sloping down the left to the woods. Lofty kept getting glimpses of it through the hole in the windscreen as he drove up toward it. After another flash of lightning and burst of thunder, he said.  “Looks like a backdrop from a Universal monster movie; all we need is Bella Lugosi or Boris Karloff and an overly melodramatic musical score.”

“Gives me the creeps!” said Martha in the back, it was not the sort of castle she had imagined; it was all bleak and foreboding and reminded her of nightmares that plagued her in childhood. She suddenly wanted Lofty to turn the car around. “Something doesn’t feel right about this whole setup,” she warned, “the letters… a great, great uncle that neither of us has ever heard of – it has to be a joke or a con, a scam of some sort… or a trap – someone has already tried to kill us!”

Lofty laughed dismissively. “These rubes are rich and I’ve got the jump on them, we both stand to carve a substantial chunk of sugar from inside that pile. I at least want to see how the cards fall before I consider checking out of this particular house game.”

She said no more and he didn’t turn the car around. He thought about telling her what the gas-station attendant had told him, a nervous little man who wasn’t – Lofty suspected – entirely compos mentis. “It be a Hell house,” he had said, “a Hell house on a haunted hill! You don’t wanna go up there – often times people drive up there, but very few of them seem to come back down!”

Of course, he didn’t tell her – that fool of an attendant was speaking nonsense and he figured she was jumpy enough as it was. So they continued following the road, snaking up the hill to the forbidding gatehouse that fronted the walled courtyard of Castle House.

Chapter Two: You Can Check Out Any Time You Like, will be coming soon.

As stated earlier, you will be able read forthcoming chapters on my Patreon site (if you subscribe) HERE, or you can wait for it to be published in ebook form when it’s finished. Subscribe to this blog to keep updated on all my articles, stories and publications – or follow me on Twitter HERE.

The Horror of it All… enter HERE all those who delight in horror, death, the macabre, the occult, black humor, weird tales, dark fantasy – and all such nefarious pleasures.

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Copyright © 2018 Harbinger451 – All Rights Reserved


The Horror of it All

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Posted in 451 ePublishing Haus, The Horror of it All!, The Lovecraftian | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Lovecraftian Horror Movie Review: The Untamed (2016), A Mexican Tentacle Sex Monster Movie!

Posted by Harbinger451 on April 2, 2018

The Lovecraftian CategoryThe Untamed (Amat Escalante, Mexico. 2016), A Mexican Tentacle Sex Monster Movie!

Fair Warning: this article discusses a film which features an explicit tentacle sex monster, if this concept makes you uncomfortable in any way THEN YOU ARE ADVISED THAT CONTINUING TO READ FROM THIS POINT FORWARD IS TO UNNECESSARILY INFLICT PSYCHIC DISTRESS UPON YOURSELF! Perhaps you could look at pictures of kittens in baskets instead, as this is clearly not the film for you.

The Untamed (2016)

For those made of sterner stuff, let us begin as the film does with an asteroid in space. Then we immediately cut to a naked woman – aroused? post-coital? disappointed? – with a tentacle being suggestively withdrawn from her pubic region. We do not see that to which the tentacle is attached. The story folds out from this point onwards, bringing in well drawn characters and letting us get to know them, their secrets and sins, all beautifullly acted in a low key, naturalistic fashion. The tentacled thing is being studied by the scientist who happened across it, it is a lodger in his home and various people visit it there throughout the film but not for the purpose of furthering scientific knowledge. We only begin to see it clearly three quarters of the way through the 98 minute running time where puppetry and CGI are to used to spectacular effect, one scene in particular reminding this reviewer of the great Hokusai‘s extraordinary wood-block printed design, ‘The Dream of the Fisherman’s Wife’. It is however, never made clear what the being is, or what its purpose may be, though we learn the Lovecraftian fashion of its arrival leading to another eye-popping scene by which even Bosch himself would find himself impressed. This tentacled being – presumably The Untamed of the title, though it could equally apply to our initial female protagonist – can, like Satan give both great pleasure and great pain, although whether it knows the difference we never discover.

The Dream of the Fisherman's Wife

“The Dream of the Fisherman’s Wife” by Hokusai (1814).

The pacing is slower than much genre fare, perhas due to its arthouse leanings but the story is fascinating and well told, beautifully shot and acted, covering such diverse subjects as loneliness, closeted homosexuality, psychedelia, domestic violence, addiction, existentialism and perhaps the film’s true subject is familial expectations, dynamics and conflict. For those with eyes to see, it is worth it purely for the two tremendous scenes previously mentioned. Perhaps it would not be an honour sought out by the film maker but fans of Japanese tentacle porn will surely find in this their favourite non-porn film ever. This is a film that takes a Lovecraftian idea places that there is no evidence Lovecraft ever went – or even dreamed of – himself.

Watch the trailer here:

Original Title: La región salvaje! [The Wild Region!]
Runtime: 98 min – Colour – Spanish Language.
The Lovecraftian’s Rating: 6/10 (Pretty Good) – slow, but extremely well made and acted, this movie is probably not for everyone. An erotic Lovecraftian kitchen-sink drama that is well worth a watch for those who are broadminded enough to appreciate it.

Buy The Untamed on DVD or Blu-ray at Amazon.com
Buy The Untamed on DVD or Blu-ray at Amazon.co.uk

Please feel free to comment on this review – or, if you’ve seen the movie, add your own review – by replying to this post.

Go HERE for a full list of Lovecraftian film and TV adaptations. We have an expanding section of our website dedicated to The Lovecraftian – purveyor of all the latest news, updates, chatter and trends from the field of Lovecraft lore – the man, his works and his weird worlds of Yog-Sothothery.  Stay up-to-date with the news and join The Lovecraftian’s adventurous expeditions into the world of the Cthulhu Mythos by following him on Twitter where fact and fiction become entwined! The Lovecraftian’s main webpage can be found HERE.

Also: Check out The Lovecraftian Herald, an online newspaper concerning all things Lovecraftian in the world of social media and beyond. Published daily by us here at Harbinger451.

For the uninitiated:

H. P. Lovecraft (1890-1937) was an influential and prolific American writer of early twentieth century cosmic horror fiction who saw himself chiefly as a poet – though many believe that it is his immense body of often literary correspondence that is in fact his greatest accomplishment – he wrote over 100,000 letters in his lifetime. He inspired a veritable legion of genre writers then, and to this day, to set their fiction within his strange cultish world.

The Cthulhu Mythos: Lovecraft, somewhat light-heartedly, labelled the “Mythos” that he created in his body of work Yog-Sothothery – and also, on rare occasions, referred to his series of connected stories as the Arkham Cycle. It was his friend August Derleth who coined the term “Cthulhu Mythos” (named after one of the monstrous beings that featured in Lovecraft’s tales) to encapsulate his epic vision of a chaotic and dark universe filled with unspeakable horror.

Brought to your attention by Harbinger451.

Copyright © 2018 Harbinger451 – All Rights Reserved

The Horror of it All

Posted in The Horror of it All!, The Lovecraftian | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Rose Blood: The Phantasmagoriad Book One – An Anti-Verse Tale by Peter Guy Blacklock

Posted by Harbinger451 on October 28, 2017

451 ePublishing Haus CategoryRose Blood: The Phantasmagoriad Book One – An Anti-Verse Tale by Peter Guy Blacklock

Rose Blood, this debut novel by Peter Guy Blacklock, is the first book in a trilogy of breakneck, erotically charged, Gothic fairy-tales set in an alternate world full of gruesome horrors, dark fantasies, twisted trysts and hard-boiled heroics; peopled with unique characters, many of whom subvert genre norms, and steeped in authentic occult lore. The gripping story, which hooks from the start, unfolds in and around the eldritch environs of an archaic primeval forest that lingers across a huge swathe of the Britannik Isles – a dark parallel of Britain in the early 1700s.

Rose Blood Cover

A chance accident on the road home from finishing-school thrusts a sheltered Rebekah into a violent, desperate and rapidly escalating struggle involving disturbingly prescient dreams, sensual vampiric bloodletting, the brutal kidnap of her sister, the wanton murder-by-troll of her father and the wicked sorceries of an arcane Machiavellian evil from the distant land of Kanaan. With the unlikely aid of a rogue vampire named Mikael, his ghostly lover, Lilith, an old wizard traveller – and agent of the state – called Arkturon and an occult specialist Ranger, the dark-elf Corporal Villovürt; she must set out to rescue Luwsiy, her young sister, from the diabolical machinations of an ancient and powerful sorcerer named Bäliyl Samiyl and his three deadly daughters, Aggareth, Maqlath and Igymeth.

The wizard-led band of assorted and unlikely heroes travel a wayward path that traverses strange otherworldly realms – while a troop of hardened Rangers, led by the stalwart Sergeant D’Geai Rinawn from the deserts of Namib, pursue the same goal on more temporal ground through the ancient, goblin and troll infested Old Forest beset with magical traps and dangers. The two groups follow their respective paths, one beaten by wizardry and wisdom, the other by sword, blunderbuss and brawn.

As well as being part of a trilogy, this novel is the first in a whole series of tales set within the same alternate world that parallels our own. These Anti-Verse Tales will take place in different times and technological periods past, present and future, but are still firmly within the same mirror universe, the convincing magical reality of which is a benighted and bewitching reflection of the histories, myths, legends and folklore of our own world.

Rose Blood Promo 1

Warning: contains extreme themes and situations of a profane, violent, horrific and sexual nature. Expect adult language and situations as well as overt violence and gore!

Buy and download the PDF eBook
(ideal for PC, Mac, iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch, Kindle and Kindle Fire)

Buy and download the MOBI (prc) eBook
(ideal for Kindle and Kindle Fire or any device with the free MobiPocket Reader)

Buy and download the EPUB eBook
(ideal for PC, Mac, iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch, Android, NOOKs, Sony Reader and Other eReaders)

You can also purchase, or get a free sample of, this eBook at Smashwords
(in PDF, MOBI, EPUB, IRF and PDB formats)

Or, if you prefer, buy the KINDLE version (on pre-order till Halloween 2017) on Amazon.

If you have read and enjoyed Rose Blood please rate and leave a review at Smashwords or GoodReads to help spread the word so that others can enjoy it too.

Moon Shade: The Phantasmagoriad Book Two
Moon Shade will be the second book in the Phantasmagoriad trilogy, and the second Anti-Verse Tale to be published in eBook format. It is currently being written.

Subscribe to this blog to keep abreast of further updates and additions to the Anti-Verse Tales of Peter Guy Blacklock AKA Harbinger451. Please feel free to comment on and/or discuss the content of this post, or of the book Rose Blood itself, by leaving a reply below.

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Copyright © 2017 Harbinger451 – All Rights Reserved


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Posted in 451 ePublishing Haus, Gaea Parallaxis | Tagged: , , , , , , | 6 Comments »

The Anti-Verse Tales series of eBooks and Web-fictions by Peter Guy Blacklock

Posted by Harbinger451 on October 24, 2017

451 ePublishing Haus CategoryThe Anti-Verse Tales series of eBooks and Web-fictions by Peter Guy Blacklock

Introducing the Anti-Verse Tales, an ongoing series of short stories, novellas and novels from Peter Guy Blacklock in both eBook and web-fiction formats – set within the Anti-Verse that is Gaea Parallaxis. The Anti-Verse is not another universe, it is simply the flip side of ours, equal and opposite… a dark Alternate World intrinsically bound to ours, mirroring the myths, legends and folklore of our own.

These tales, set in different times and technological periods past, present and future, but firmly within the same universe, will invariably contain extreme themes and situations of a profane, violent, horrific or sexual nature. Expect adult language and situations as well as overt violence and gore! You have been warned.

The Anti-Verse TalesWhat and Where is the Anti-Verse?

There have always been tales – in fable, legend and myth – of other worlds; running side by side with our own, and yet somehow within, beyond or beneath it. Whether we call it the Netherworld, the Underworld, the land of Fairy or the land of the gods – whether it be a place of dreams or a place of nightmares, or even a place of the dead. Ever since humanity has had the capacity to imagine and to wonder, there has been an ‘other’ world – and that otherworld is the Anti-Verse.

Modern science has made great leaps in explaining the observable universe but there is so much that is still beyond our ability to observe. Though we are constantly expanding the limitations of our perception with advances in technology and even, some may argue, with ‘mind altering’ drugs, it is estimated that the matter (in the form of mass & energy) that we can see, or is illuminated, represents only four percent of the universe in which we live. Another twenty-three percent or so, is thought to be composed of what is termed dark-matter. That is, matter that we cannot see – meaning that it is not being made evident by either its own light or by the emitted or reflected light of other, more conventional matter such as stars or galaxies. Generally, it is assumed, the majority of this mysterious dark-matter is locked up within black-holes, dead stars and planets, or is simply present in vast, diffuse clouds of none illuminated dust. Spiral galaxies, like our own Milky Way, are now thought to exist within roughly spherical halos or cloud bubbles of dark-matter particles.

So, what of the other seventy-three percent? I hear you ask. Here, we are forced to consider the even more mysterious dark-energy: the unexplained, and possibly inexplicable, repulsive or inflationary energy (force or quality) of the vacuum of space. Which must exist to explain the apparent acceleration of the rate of expansion of the observable universe and that is somehow counteracting the force of gravity. Its fundamental nature, however, is anyone’s guess! The possibility that dark-energy may involve interactions between the standard three spatial dimensions that we see (the classic x, y & z) and extra spatial dimensions that we don’t, may go some way to account for the strange properties of otherwise empty space.

String theorists have suggested there may be many more dimensions at play in the universe than the standard three of space and one of time, which comprise the four-dimensional space-time continuum in which we, and the observable universe, exist and interact. String Theory relies on the supposition that the basic quanta of sub-atomic particles are not so much a point, as they are envisioned in our space-time continuum, but are in fact line-like strings running through our continuum along an extra dimension we cannot, as yet, perceive.

The related M-Theory follows on from this and postulates that the different properties of quanta are defined by the harmonies of these strings. They vibrate within extra-dimensional planes (or membranes – composed of two extra dimensions) or are even resonating within other multi-dimensional continua (composed of three, four or possibly more extra dimensions). M-Theorists suggest that there may be at least six extra spatial dimensions beyond our mundane three, and therefore numerous planes and continua are potentially operating in conjunction with ours, but about which we may never know more of than their existence by inference.

Since the production of antimatter quanta in particle accelerators, the possibility of an antiverse has been suggested, a universe the exact opposite (sub-atomically at least) of our own. We could never physically travel to such an anti-verse of course, for as soon as an ordinary particle comes into contact with its anti-matter counterpart; they annihilate each other in a burst of energy. Perhaps this anti-verse exists within its own extra-dimensional continuum running parallel, or more accurately parallax, with ours. If we are not able to physically travel there, perhaps a shift in consciousness or perception is all that is needed to experience this other world… in fact, many of us may have already done so. There are numerous unexplained phenomena that may simply be a case of altered states of consciousness or perception that have allowed us glimpses of another, essentially alien but somehow strangely familiar, aspect of our own universe. This ‘otherworld’, and one may assume potentially many others, has always been there – out of sight, but not necessarily out of mind.

Perhaps, hypothetically at least, extra-dimensional gossamer threads link positive quanta at one end to negative quanta at the other. Likewise negative quanta in this world links to positive in that, the polar ends of these invisible strings mirroring each other. By these fundamental bonds of nature the two mirror worlds would be inextricably bound.

So the Anti-Verse is a dark mirror image of our own universe, in many ways very similar to it, manifesting as it does along the same dimension of time as ours – but its three spatial dimensions are not the same as those that form our continuum. It is an otherworld which operates in a continuum that is, in effect, a reflection of our own – opposite and yet beside us, beyond and yet around us, poles apart but less than a hair’s breadth away. Throughout history we have been provided with glimpses of this otherworld; in our myths, legends and folklore, our fantasies, dreams and nightmares – even in our encounters with ghosts, fairy folk, cryptids and other unexplained phenomena… through these, the Anti-Verse has been revealed.

(from the chronicles and testaments of Citizen No Name Kane)

Gaea Parallaxis

Gaea Parallaxis: the chronicles and testaments of Citizen No Name Kane

This serialized techno-gothic sci-fi fantasy-horror-comedy set in the Anti-Verse that is Gaea Parallaxis is probably the best place to start within the Anti-Verse Tales. The chronicles detail the weird adventures of the amnesiac narrator, a 21st century stranger in a strange land, known only as No Name Kane, in the familiar and yet ultimately alien world that he has found himself mysteriously transported to. The testaments detail No Name Kane’s attempts to make sense of and record the peculiarities, cultures and societies of this strange parallel world and wider universe that he has rationalised as the Anti-Verse.
Click HERE to read the ongoing saga of Gaea Parallaxis free online.

Rose Blood Cover

Rose Blood: The Phantasmagoriad Book One

Rose Blood is the first ebook release set within the Anti-Verse and it is the first novel in a trilogy that comprise the Phantasmagoriad. Each of these novels are (and will be) breakneck, erotically charged, Gothic fairytales full of gruesome horrors, dark fantasies, twisted trysts and hard-boiled heroics; peopled with unique characters, many of whom subvert genre norms, and steeped in authentic occult lore. The gripping story presented in Rose Blood, which hooks from the start, unfolds in and around the eldritch environs of an archaic primeval forest that lingers across a huge swathe of the Britannik Isles – a dark Anti-Verse parallel of Britain in the early 1700s. The second novel, Moon Shade, is currently being written and will be released soon.
Click HERE (or read the following blog post) for more information about Rose Blood and where to buy it.

Future Anti-Verse Tales Projects

As well as the continuation of the Phantasmagoriad trilogy of eBooks mentioned above, I will be starting an exclusive ongoing web-fiction work on my Patreon site HERE – for subscribers only – entitled The Parallaxed World. This tale started life as an early (and originally shelved) version of Gaea Parallaxis detailing the spoof 19th century steam-punk adventures of a Victorian London Detective, Harold ‘Harry’ Thurston after he is transported through an eerie maelstrom mid Atlantic into the Anti-Verse.

 

Subscribe to this blog to keep abreast of further updates and additions to the Anti-Verse Tales of Peter Guy Blacklock AKA Harbinger451. Please feel free to comment on and/or discuss the content of this post, or the Anti-Verse Tales generally, by leaving a reply below.

Harbinger451.co.uk

Copyright © 2017 Harbinger451 – All Rights Reserved


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Sneak Peek at Occult-Noir Horror Short Story: “Crucifixions Continue!” by Peter Guy Blacklock

Posted by Harbinger451 on July 8, 2017

The Horror of it All CategorySneak Peek at Occult-Noir Horror Short Story: “Crucifixions Continue!” by Peter Guy Blacklock

Here’s another sneak-peek at one of the short stories from the upcoming Dollar Dreadful Volume Two ebook, this one is titled Crucifixions Continue, a short Occult-Noir horror story in two parts, the first of which – as with The Ninth Watcher in the previous post – is presented below. You can read the whole thing on my Patreon site HERE (if you subscribe), or you can wait for it to be published in the up-coming ebook.

Crucifixion-Continue

An Infamous Serial Killer Strikes Again!

Crucifixions Continue!

Part One: Death.

‘Crucifixions Continue!’ The headline was emblazoned across the front page of Tuesday’s Evening Standard. Nick Kaufman couldn’t believe his eyes… a nauseous ache permeated from the pit of his stomach as he picked up a copy of the newspaper.

It had to be a mistake… a joke, he thought, a sickening joke!  But no, there it was, the story in full.  There had been another murder – a copycat killing though, it had to be!

He stood there in the small, warm shop, his local convenience store, and read the story through a full three times before he could allow himself to believe it was true. It was approaching 4 pm and this was Nick’s last port of call before heading home after his New Year Bank Holiday weekend away.

He read, ‘The Crucifixion Killer strikes again after three years.’ That was a term that this very newspaper had coined back then, after the third murder to be precise, the tag had stuck – ‘crucifixion killer’ sounded good to the hacks in tabloid land and the Great British public were suckered right into it. The Crucifixion Killer was the Bogeyman from there on in.

‘Nine victims was not enough for this serial killer, will another eight now fall victim to this ritual executioner?  Can the police do anything to stop him?’ Outrageous scare-mongering was the back bone that supported the tabloids and the Evening Standard was not going to be out done in the first breaking of a truly sensational story. Nick bought some milk and rushed out onto the frosty High Street, heading home, his mind a riot of conflicting thoughts. He was drawn back to the story in the paper, sickening disbelief still getting the better of him. He had thought it was all over, it had ended at 9 am on the 9th of September three years ago with the ninth victim, that was symmetry… a tidy ending – but now they’re starting again?

It’s not possible! Nick nearly shouted aloud.

Calm down, he told himself… deep breath. He forced his racing thoughts to pause and he tried to collect himself, losing it in the street would not put a stop to this.

‘After an anonymous tip-off a body was found early Sunday morning – the 1st of January, exactly three years since the start of the original series of murders – in an abandoned house in the rural Durham village of Greatham. A police spokesman told this correspondent that the crime scene displays all the characteristics of a Crucifixion Killing, though, at this stage, we cannot confirm if there is a link between this and the killings of three years ago.’

The correspondent responsible for this literary achievement was one Miles Turner, a one time potential high achiever in journalistic circles who had followed the original investigations so vociferously that it had almost come to the point of obsession. He must be seeing this like the return of a long lost lover, thought Nick.

‘Those nine killings were particularly brutal; all following the same sick modus operandi. The police could find no connection between any of the victims and no motive was ever identified. All the murders remain unsolved. Each victim was found at a secluded or deserted spot, up and down the country, all had died of asphyxiation, the bodies were stripped naked and crucified to the floor using three-inch nails. A large pentagram, an occult Black Magic symbol, was daubed on the floor where the victims were crucified. An anonymous phone call had always pre-empted the discovery of the body.’

Nick’s home was a large, red brick, Georgian house surrounded on three sides by gardens which were bordered by a 12ft brick wall. A drive and pathway ran down the fourth side leading to garages, there an entrance to the house greeted him, pale misty breath was expelled from his mouth as he unlocked the dark blue, solid oak panelled door and entered.

‘The identity of the latest victim has not been revealed but it is believed to be that of a young woman.’

A young woman. Taki Maeda’s face flashed before Nick’s eyes, a memory of the happy holiday photo that had been published in the paper… she had been the last victim, the ninth victim, the only one to have been alive when found – if you could call a coma being alive, – the unfortunate young Japanese woman had died a couple of days later, never regaining consciousness. His mind’s eye could not suppress the memory of her spread-eagled body crucified to the vacant warehouse floor… within that stark-white magic circle… and her nakedness, hauntingly pale – perfect in its pathos… heartbreakingly beautiful in the full moon light that came in through the warehouse’s tall, broken paned windows.

That one memory, which he could not suppress, opened the floodgates to the ghosts of all the crucified victims, each one that contributed their part to the legend of the ultimate unidentified serial killer. The first of the nine was a fifty-four year old man, Ken Kendrick, who disappeared while cycling his way home after a night-time security job. Second was Isabelle Parfit, a young prostitute who’s last known prophetic words, to the fellow street women that she associated with, were “With the way my luck’s been goin’ lately I’m sure to bump into some sicko tonight!” Lenny MacDonald, eighteen years and last seen stumbling home after a night on the town was the third victim to turn up crucified. Then there was the homeless derelict and inveterate drunk, eventually named as Joseph Serratoa. Mina Carlisle, mother of two, was murdered next, out at night for unknown reasons. Followed by Susan Maltby, a shift worker on her way home from the fast food outlet where she earned a meagre living. Darren Jones, a petty thief on a dishonest night’s work was victim number seven, and James Wilkinson, a bank manager last seen alive wandering the red-light district, was the eighth crucified body to be found.

Nick suddenly felt like his head was spinning, he paused and leaned against the wall. Again, he took a deep breath. Bloody hell – what’s happening to me? This should have all ended – it can’t begin again.

The house had spacious, tall ceilinged rooms that were elegantly decorated in a subtle Art Nouveau, High-Tech fusion. It was his refuge; he dropped his weekend bag unceremoniously and cast aside his long, dark, insulating coat before quickly sitting himself down in the comfortable living room where he slowly tried to relax.

The story from the paper kept intruding on his thoughts, ‘The police are due to make a more detailed statement at 6 pm today once the victim has been positively identified and the next of kin have been notified.’

I need a strong coffee, he thought. It was 4.09 pm, just under two hours to go. He went through into the large kitchen, a spotless steam-punk fantasy of black, white and chrome. Nick watched his reflection rapidly grow in the percolator’s shinning, functional façade as he neared and then prepared a coffee.  He waited while it slowly gurgled and spat into the jug. Nick poured a cup of steaming black liquid and added two sugars. What to do now? The Internet! Of course – always up to date if you know where to look.

The study housed one of Nick’s computers, both of which were high spec and both used heavily.  Each computer was dedicated to a different side of his life, this one, a PC, was for research and information gathering, writing books or articles – responsible for the bulk of his income, and for communications – net, fax and phone.  The other was a ‘Mac’, which he used for design and art work, more as a hobby than for a living, it was one of his relaxation techniques.

There were hundreds of web sites with references to the Crucifixion Killer, the search engine made all the more notable ones available for scrutiny but it was easy to pick and choose which ones would be useful.  They were mainly split between the fan sites and the hate sites, with a few neutral report and documentary style sites thrown in. All serial killers seemed to develop a certain cult following but the number of fan sites for the Crucifixion Killer still amazed him. Most were British, a few European and American, and quite a large number from the Far East, especially Japan. He concentrated on the more serious British sites for the moment, hoping to just get an angle, the latest theory out there among the Crucifixionologists about the identity of the killer, or to find any breaking news.

But this was useless he soon realised, the first most net authors would have known about the new murder would have been the breaking of the news in the papers this morning. It would be unlikely that any would have had time to up load and broadcast their views to the world at large. He checked out the two highest ranking, and therefore most recently updated, fan-sites – one announced ‘Crucifixion Killer returns: Praise to the Crucifixion Killer’, and another, somewhat surrealistically ‘Crucifixion Killer Dead. Long live the Crucifixion Killer.’ Beneath that last title was a picture of a rather battered doorway which, it claimed, was the front door to the location of the latest murder. Neither website held any real details though; both seemed to be just the usual amalgam of unhealthy fascination, artistic endeavour and too much time running spare.

Nick resorted to the TV news and Broadsheet sites. The best were already bookmarked and he accessed them directly without the need for a search. There was little to show for his effort though… except for a small piece from a local Durham news site – ‘A close community is shattered by the discovery of a sacrificial style killing in their midst. The house the body was discovered in has been empty for at least two years, say shocked locals. The identity of the victim has not been revealed and there are no reported missing persons from the immediate area. A number of impromptu wreaths and bouquets have been left at the front door of the premises.’

A photo of the forbidding looking detached house was beside this comment, a splash of floral colour visible at the doorstep. He downloaded the image then immediately shifted applications on screen so he could zoom in on the shaded front entrance of the house; after adjusting the sharpness, contrast, gamma and saturation levels, the number nine became clearly visible in the darkened doorway… it was the same door from that last fan-site he had looked at. But in that site’s photo there had been no flowers carefully lain before it.

Nick kicked his heels back in the sumptuous room, lined with books and dark wood surround. Resting his feet on the desk he gazed out through the tall Georgian style windows to the frosted trees and grass of the large garden beyond, sipping at his coffee. The garden was a totally private piece of paradise, separated from the outside world. He decided to spend the rest of the morning exercising, to try and clear his mind a little. But first, he thought, he should check out the various cable news channels on the TV.

He scanned them all quickly, those broadcast from home and overseas, catching the half-hourly bulletins, but there was nothing new. The police news conference was still scheduled for six o-clock and the TV pundits were taking this as confirmation that the latest victim had been identified and the next of kin notified.

Nick subjected himself to an intensive half-hour of physical exertion in the exercise room before stepping into a hot shower, trying hard not to think of this new murder. It wasn’t easy. Images of the old ones were persistently haunting him, stark faces developing on the brilliant white tiles of the shower room like little Polaroid’s and the bigger, dark slate floor tiles were like photographic plates of the crime scenes – showing white magic circles that span and spiralled toward him. What’s going on? The thought angrily voiced in his head.  Three years and not a single disturbing memory, dream or thought – till now… a new murder and all hell breaks loose in my head.

He turned the shower to cold and shocked himself out of the daze that seemed to be descending.  Yelling with the surprise he turned it instantly off and, shivering, rushed from the shower room and retrieved a warm towel from the airing cupboard beside it. He patted himself dry, got dressed, and moved through into the living room, after pouring another cup of coffee, ready to watch the latest news.

The big, flat screen flicked into life, the black silent rectangle becoming a shining cacophony as he channel hopped rapidly before settling on what seemed the best. Nick placed the remote control beside him as he waited impatiently for eighteen-hundred hours to arrive. The screen showed a number of chairs behind a long table with a blow-up of the both the Durham and Metropolitan Police Insignias on an otherwise plain backdrop. The table was covered with assorted microphones. A presenter’s inane voice-over prattled annoyingly as they waited for something interesting to happen.

Finally a number of official looking people paraded out sombrely; with little fuss they soon settled themselves in the chairs behind the table. Nick’s heart leapt up into his throat as he saw the lead officer take her place in the centre chair. It was Detective Inspector Annabel Radcliffe, she had been the chief officer involved in the Metropolitan’s original investigation into the Crucifixion killings… they must have found a connection to have called her in – but there can’t be a connection, there simply can’t!

The excited shuffling and coughing of the journalists present suddenly ceased as DI Radcliffe cleared her throat and leaned forward, bringing her mouth nearer to the microphones.  “I have a short statement only to give to you.” She said. She seemed harassed and continued abruptly. “The body found yesterday has been identified as Patricia Bell, a twenty year old university student who went missing three days ago, her next of kin have been notified. We are doing all we can to trace the killer at this moment in time and due to the sensitive nature of our investigations we can not disclose any further details…” A sudden commotion from her audience erupted as all the journalists present simultaneously voiced their protests as violently as possible.

“Other than…” DI Radcliffe shouted above the roar as she stood and grabbed the largest of the microphones before her and stared at her audience till they quietened down.  “Other than to state that we have made a connection with the previous spate of serial killings that have been popularised as the work of the Crucifixion Killer! There can be no doubt that the same perpetrator is at work again.”

The room exploded into clamouring noise for a second time as she calmly turned her back on it all and lead her entourage back out of the room, increasingly desperate questions and pleas were shouted after her but to no avail.

Nick couldn’t believe his eyes and ears. No! You can’t leave it like that! He stared, dumbfounded at the television screen. “It can’t be the Crucifixion Killer – it just can’t be.” He said standing, his fingernails digging into his palms, and then spat “No bastard’s going to steal my crown! No fucking bastard… after all that work… I did those killings, I’m the Crucifixion Killer – and I’ll crucify any bastard that tries to take my place!”

Nick Kaufman’s mind raced, desperately trying to figure out who could possibly know the intricacies of his murders, who would dare mess with his greatest work of art… his ultimate statement? A number of facts had remained undisclosed to the public so it had to be some one in the know, a police officer working on the case or maybe a journalist with very good sources – but who?

Miles Turner instantly came to mind, he’s a low life opportunist scum, who would kill his own mother if he thought it would sell the newspaper with his account in it . . . but surely he wouldn’t have access to the full details of the case?

Then, more desperately, he thought. Maybe it’s a plot by the police themselves – to flush me out… but no, they could never get away with that… unless there never was a murder, there was no student called Patricia Bell… so no next of kin to notify?

Nick was forcibly snapped from his deliberation by a voice from the half open door to the room.

“Hello Mr. Kaufman.”  It said. Nick’s heart almost stopped dead as he span to see the intruder that had addressed him.

End of Part One.

As stated earlier, you can read the concluding Part Two of this story on my Patreon site HERE (if you subscribe), or you can wait for it to be published in the up-coming second volume of our 451 ePublishing Haus’ Dollar Dreadful series of ebooks which will feature this and two more of my occult horror tales… ‘The Ninth Watcher‘ and ‘The Matter of Time’. Both these stories will have part Sneak Peek previews here and full Sneak Peek previews on the Patreon site HERE. Subscribe to this blog to keep updated on all my articles, stories and publications.

The Horror of it All… enter HERE all those who delight in horror, death, the macabre, the occult, black humor, weird tales, dark fantasy – and all such nefarious pleasures.

Harbinger451.co.uk

Copyright © 2017 Harbinger451 – All Rights Reserved


The Horror of it All

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Sneak Peek at Occult Horror Short Story: The Ninth Watcher by Peter Guy Blacklock

Posted by Harbinger451 on July 4, 2017

The Horror of it All CategorySneak Peek at Occult Horror Short Story: The Ninth Watcher by Peter Guy Blacklock

The Ninth Watcher is a short occult horror story in two parts, the first of which is presented below. You can read the whole thing on my Patreon site HERE (if you subscribe), or you can wait for it to be published in the up-coming second volume of our Dollar Dreadful series of ebooks which will feature three of my horror tales for your delectation.

High Moor Asylum

A dark date with destiny is in the offing at the High Moor Asylum for the Criminally Insane.

The Ninth Watcher

Part One: Lunatic.

Tuesday.

A date with destiny is a date that needs a lot of setting up.  No matter how preordained an event, planning is essential; certain designs must be put into action to ensure that a doom comes to fruition.  Newspaper ads, favours, dues . . . all play their part.  There is a definite knack to being in the right place at the right time.

Loud music thundered ominously in my ears as I walked steadily from the picturesque village, rising out of the valley and away from its cosy day-tripper surroundings.  Although late in the season my headphones and blue tinted shades had provided shelter from the bustle of the still busy Valley Line train, but in the increasingly barren landscape of High Moor they contributed to a rather chill mood.  A mood though which was suitable to the task ahead.

I approached High Moor Asylum with a sober countenance, it was a high security institution for the criminally insane, its reputation for excellence and its extreme secrecy also made it a perfect sanctuary for the rich and famous to deposit any relatives that may otherwise cause embarrassment or scandal.  The bleak building, built less than thirty years earlier, suited its surroundings; though its mock nineteenth century facade failed to add the character of age.  The building was new and the site had no history, at least none that I could find, and my research was meticulously thorough.

I mounted the steps leading to the large front doors purposefully, stopping before them I removed my headphones which now only emitted the low electronic hum of latent power, the music had finished.  I switched the compact-disc player off.  Pressing a finger to the small white button of the doorbell I waited to be greeted.  The door opened to show me a mature woman dressed in official whites, a name badge tagging her Nurse Wheatley.  The poorly veiled puzzlement on her face as she looked me up and down was familiar to me, welcome even.

Appearances can be deceptive, my height is below average for a man but above average for a woman, my build is slight but athletic and my dress, some might say, is effeminate though definitely not feminine.  I think of my attire as practical in a Victorian gentleman sort of way, the black frock coat emphasising slightly masculine shoulders and accentuating a slightly feminine waist.  A pale and pretty asexual face and dark, roughly cropped hair added to the ambiguity.  Removing my sunglasses I introduced myself, Sam Stafford.  My soft, strong and measured voice giving nothing away.  I was expected.

Dr. Hilda Greer admitted me to her presence at the precise time of our appointment, 10.30am, I had arrived nine minutes earlier.  She was younger than I had expected – in her late thirties maybe, she scanned our earlier correspondence, seeking for a formal title to brand me.  She didn’t find one.  She finally said my name uncomfortably with no Mr, Miss, Ms or Mrs to label me with.  Doctor Greer did not like being at a disadvantage.  She was also uncomfortable with my reason for being there.  The supernatural was not a subject she could confidently discuss theories about.  Which was why she needed to call in a professional.  I was the only Investigator of the Paranormal that she could find mention of through her many contacts at various universities and institutions, so she called for me.

I accepted her invitation to sit down.  I broke the stilted silence that descended into her comfortably dark, wood panelled office by asking if there had been any more strange occurrences since her last letter.  She hesitated before releasing a torrent of concerns, things had just been getting worse; security systems failing, strange unbelievable noises, temperature changes.  When these things happen the inmates would all seem to go simultaneously berserk, stretching the staff to the limit.  The strain was starting to tell; staff calling in sick, patients weren’t being attended too properly.  The concern in her eyes told more than her words possibly could.

I asked Dr. Greer if the beginning of the unusual happenings had coincided with the admittance of any inmates.

“Our admissions are taken in with the strictest confidence . . .” She began to recite her official policy, I interrupted her, reminded her of the predicament.  The phenomena were unlikely to be attached to the building or grounds for they had no history, they must be attached to someone or something brought into the Asylum.  I demanded to know who or what had arrived just before the waves of supernatural phenomena had started.

She remained silent for a good thirty seconds.  “Alexander Price was admitted on the 23rd of August, the phenomena started that night, hardly noticeable at first, gradually getting worse each night.  That was a month ago.”

Alexander Price.  That name conjured up so much for me.  A lunatic asylum was where he belonged, to protect himself as well as others.  He was a self and very publicly professed sorcerer, occultist and practitioner of black magic, considered by most to be eccentric, by the rest simply mad.  He was considered by a few, those misfortuned enough to know of his dealings at first hand — myself included, to be the most dangerous man in Britain.  His privileged and extremely wealthy background had protected him so many times; assault, rape, ritual abuse; there was never enough evidence — and any willing witnesses or accusers were never very willing for long.  My composure remained intact and my expression did not change.  My existence had meaning again.

“What happened to him?  Why was he admitted?”

The head of the asylum hesitated.  “His father brought him in, he’d been found a ‘gibbering wreck’ in a cellar of his London premises.  A few of Price’s cronies had tipped his father off, a ‘summoning’ they had tried had gone wrong . . . or some such nonsense.”

I asked if I could see Price himself.  Dr. Greer shuffled a little, then pressed a secreted intercom on her desk and asked for a Nurse Addams.

 

Alexander Price

Alexander Price… or is it Aleister Crowley?

Nurse Addams was a very big man, both vertically and horizontally.  He looked exactly like the clichéd sadist always found in mental institutions, at least if television is to be believed, but his soft voice belied this.  I followed him, feeling very small.  The spotless tiles of the chequered floor remained the same but the décor, doors and walls changed from plush manor house to sanitised, high-tech institution with insidious ease.  The nurse led me initially to a control room for the wing that held Price, monitors showed rooms and occupants with a detached, uncaring clarity.  Alexander Price’s cell stood out in its scarcity.  The occultist sat cross-legged and naked, but for a grubby pair of shorts, in the centre of the room with a pentacle and circle scrawled about himself on the floor.  No furniture, not even a pallet kept him company, a bright white toilet bowl kept a lonely vigil in a darkened corner.

I asked for confirmation that Price had had no belongings with him when he was incarcerated in this room.  “None.” said Nurse Adams.

“With what then has he marked the floor?”  I asked.

“Charcoal, mixed with ‘is own blood, amongst other things I’m sure.” Was the reply.  The marks looked desperately black on the monitor screen.  The inmate rocked slowly back and forth as if talking or chanting to himself.  “When ‘e first came ‘e ‘ad no charcoal –- daubed it with ‘is own blood and filth, every time we cleaned it up ‘e would do it again,” continued the nurse, “tried restraining ‘im, ‘e just went wild.  Dr Greer just said to give ‘im some charcoal an’ leave ‘im — and ‘is daubs . . . it kept ‘im quiet.”

My request to see him was met with a shake of the head.  “You’ll get no sense out of ‘im.”

The door to his cell was as secure as security could be, the pass card and key-pad sequence released a mechanism and then a huge bolt had to be slid across the heavy iron door.  “It won’t be pleasant.”  Warned the nurse matter-of-factly.

The scent of fear is the foulest thing.  Price’s cell was full of it.  I asked the nurse to leave and close the door behind him, he refused but agreed with a shrug to leave the cell with the door open, he was obviously relieved that he did not have to stay there.  Price looked up at me as soon as the nurse left the room, his eyes were perfectly sane but panic was in his voice.  “Are you here to help me — can you help me?”

Standing before him I asked, “What has happened to you?”

“Questions, questions . . . I don’t need more questions I need help!”

“I can only help you if I know what has happened.”

“Are you a Doctor?” said Price suspiciously.

“No,” I said, “I’m an occultist, like you.”

He laughed, “There is no one like me.  Don’t you know? I’m the most evil man in the world . . .” His laughter was strong and loud but it was an obvious bluff.

“What did you manage to summon that night?” I asked.  “Can you remember?”

“Back to the questions . . .” he said vociferously. “– Oh I remember all right: I’m not likely to forget . . . ever.”

I waited for an answer to my question, taking the opportunity to study Price in detail.  He just stared back at me, occasionally glancing about the dark room.  Price remembered what had happened all right, he was replaying it constantly in his mind but he feared that to tell of his memory was to bring that memory to life . . . he stayed silent in his fear.  He sensed my intrusion as I viewed his thoughts though and this panicked him.

“How can I help you?” I asked hoping this path might lead to information.

“Have you heard the term Binah?”  He suddenly asked.

Binah is the third Sephirah of the Tree of Life, according to Kabalistic tradition.  And I told him so. He was testing my occult knowledge.

“What do you know of the Codex Latinus Monacensis 849?”

“It is a manuscript, of the fifteenth century.  I suppose you could call it a handbook of ritual magic and Necromancy.”  I said.  “It’s in the Bavarian State Library I believe.”

He smiled unpleasantly.  “Do you know what this circle marked on the floor represents?” His tone was getting increasingly sarcastic and his manner more manic, more desperate.  “It protects me,” he answered the question himself.  “I remain perfectly safe while it remains intact and I remain within it.  If you can’t find a way for me to leave here without the need for it you cannot help me.  Do you still think you can help me?”

“I can only help you come to your fate.  The outcome of your actions is unavoidable, preordained almost.”  I smiled.  He did not.

“There is nothing I can do to prevent your destiny,” I continued, “you may succeed in postponing it, but in the end retribution will come to you.”

“Oh please . . . don’t preach to me!”  He said contemptuously.

“I can only aid those unconnected with you, those innocents affected by your actions and dealings with the Otherworld.  Your meddling must be put to rights.”  He just stared at me with pure hate slowly surfacing in his eyes.  “I can only give you advice.”  I continued.  “To hope to release your soul from its torment — its eternal torment.  You must forsake all your dark deeds, turn away from them.”

“You fool — if I turn my back on all I have done . . . they will simply take me — overwhelm me and destroy me . . . body and soul!”

“You are weak.”  I said matter of factually.  “You deserve the demons that seek you.”

“They’ll never get me,” he scoffed, “my knowledge keeps them at bay.”  His grin barely held as his bony hand, covered in grime, circled his crossed legs indicating the magic symbols.

“That kind of knowledge has a price though.”

“You talk like some kind of priest!” he suddenly spat,“– so holier than thou.  It makes me sick.”

“At least I am free to leave this Asylum, yours . . .“ I pointed to the circle, “you can never leave.”

He stood as if ready to leap at me, his fingers held like talons and his yellowed teeth gritted, his whole body strained.  Then suddenly he pulled back, looking at his circle, frightened he may have crossed over or disturbed it.

I laughed at him, trying to get another reaction.  He sat though as before and began mumbling his chants to himself.  He closed his eyes and his mind to me.  I would get no more from him.

End of Part One.

As stated earlier, you can read the concluding Part Two of this story on my Patreon site HERE (if you subscribe), or you can wait for it to be published in the up-coming second volume of our 451 ePublishing Haus’ Dollar Dreadful series of ebooks which will feature this and two more of my occult horror tales… ‘Crucifixions Continue‘ and ‘The Matter of Time’. Both these stories will have part Sneak Peek previews here and full Sneak Peek previews on the Patreon site HERE. Subscribe to this blog to keep updated on all my articles, stories and publications.

The Horror of it All… enter HERE all those who delight in horror, death, the macabre, the occult, black humor, weird tales, dark fantasy – and all such nefarious pleasures.

Harbinger451.co.uk

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Lovecraftian Horror Movie Review: The Void (2016/2017)

Posted by Harbinger451 on June 13, 2017

The Lovecraftian CategoryThe Void (Steven Kostanski & Jeremy Gillespie, Canada. 2016/2017)

The Void

Theatrical poster for The Void.

Originally crowd-funded on Indiegogo, this movie is a horror, mystery, sci-fi homage to classic pre-CGI creature features, especially those of John Carpenter. It has loads of allusions to various Lovecraft tropes including strange cultists, reanimated dead, alien evils older than time and weird portals to regions beyond the stars. First shown at the 2016 Fantastic Fest and then later at the Toronto After Dark Film Festival, it was given a wider theatrical release in 2017.

James (Evan Stern) flees from an isolated farmhouse and escapes into the woods. A screaming woman tries to follow James, but she is shot and callously set on fire by Vincent (Daniel Fathers) and his mute son Simon (Mik Byskov), both of whom also came out of the farmhouse. A short time later Deputy Daniel Carter (Aaron Poole) comes across a bloody and incoherent James crawling down a rural road and delivers him to the nearest medical facility; a half-burned-out, understaffed hospital which is about to close – and also happens to be where the good Deputy’s estranged wife Allison (Kathleen Munroe) works as a nurse. The only other staff at the hospital are Doctor Powell (Kenneth Welsh), Nurse Beverly (Stephanie Belding) and intern Kim (Ellen Wong). In the waiting room is an old man, Ben (James Millington), with his heavily pregnant granddaughter Maggie (Grace Munro) and, in one of the rooms, there is a young patient called Cliff (Matt Kennedy).

The hospital descends rapidly into chaos as Beverly seemingly goes crazy, pealing her own skin off and killing Cliff, forcing Deputy Carter to shoot her dead. A State Trooper (Art Hindle) then arrives, investigating an apparent occult mass murder back at the farmhouse, looking for James. Strange, otherworldly horns then sound ominously and the hospital is surrounded by hooded, knife wielding, cultists seemingly intent on making sure that no one leaves alive – just as Vincent and Simon burst into the hospital, also on the hunt for James.

void cultists

Cultists from The Void!

Things just get stranger, more weird and more violent from there on in, so prepare yourself for a gruesome roller-coaster ride to a place far worse than hell itself as Deputy Carter tries to make sense of what is happening. All while sorting the good guys from the bad, dealing with in-fighting, more murders, unusual visions, the dead that will not lay and the sanity defying appearances of hideous slithering entities and other cosmic horrors… oh, and don’t forget the cultists.

Content Warning: very violent, with plenty of blood and gore – enough even for the most ardent fan of grotesque body-horror.

Watch the trailer here:

The Void – Taglines: A New Dimension in Evil | There is a Hell. This is worse

Runtime: 90 min – Colour – English.

The Lovecraftian’s Rating: 7.5/10 (Good to Very Good) – a great attempt at a good old-fashioned (80s) style practical-effects driven action packed horror. A bit weak regards characters and dialogue but a very entertaining and bloody slice of creepy and intense Lovecraftian shenanigans none the less.

Buy The Void on DVD or Blu-ray at Amazon.com
Buy The Void on DVD or Blu-ray at Amazon.co.uk

Please feel free to comment on this review – or, if you’ve seen the movie, add your own review – by replying to this post.

Go HERE for a full list of Lovecraftian film and TV adaptations. We have an expanding section of our website dedicated to The Lovecraftian – purveyor of all the latest news, updates, chatter and trends from the field of Lovecraft lore – the man, his works and his weird worlds of Yog-Sothothery.  Stay up-to-date with the news and join The Lovecraftian’s adventurous expeditions into the world of the Cthulhu Mythos by following him on Twitter where fact and fiction become entwined! The Lovecraftian’s main webpage can be found HERE.

Also: Check out The Lovecraftian Herald, an online newspaper concerning all things Lovecraftian in the world of social media and beyond. Published daily by us here at Harbinger451.

For the uninitiated:

H. P. Lovecraft (1890-1937) was an influential and prolific American writer of early twentieth century cosmic horror fiction who saw himself chiefly as a poet – though many believe that it is his immense body of often literary correspondence that is in fact his greatest accomplishment – he wrote over 100,000 letters in his lifetime. He inspired a veritable legion of genre writers then, and to this day, to set their fiction within his strange cultish world.

The Cthulhu Mythos: Lovecraft, somewhat light-heartedly, labelled the “Mythos” that he created in his body of work Yog-Sothothery – and also, on rare occasions, referred to his series of connected stories as the Arkham Cycle. It was his friend August Derleth who coined the term “Cthulhu Mythos” (named after one of the monstrous beings that featured in Lovecraft’s tales) to encapsulate his epic vision of a chaotic and dark universe filled with unspeakable horror.

Brought to your attention by Harbinger451.

Copyright © 2017 Harbinger451 – All Rights Reserved

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Lovecraftian Book Review: Shoggoths and Sundown Towns – Lovecraft Country by Matt Ruff (2016)

Posted by Harbinger451 on June 10, 2017

The Lovecraftian CategoryShoggoths and Sundown Towns – Lovecraft Country (Matt Ruff, HarperCollins Publishers Ltd., 2016)

First off: I assume that if you’re reading this then you’re a fan of H. P. Lovecraft, but whether you are or not I strongly advise that you procure and binge on this book, it is an all-round treat and surely one of the best ever Lovecraft stories not actually written by Lovecraft himself. It is a fun and funny romp through many of Lovecraft’s themes and ideas, deliciously refuting his unashamed racism by featuring a large, well-drawn cast of highly individual and wholly capable African American characters. The central, over-arching tale – each chapter is a story that could stand alone – focuses on a 1950s African American family, along with their friends and associates, who find themselves pitted against a classic Lovecraftian trope: an evil cult whose unscrupulous intention to achieve great occult power may endanger the whole of humanity!

Cover of Lovecraft Country by Matt Ruff

Cover of Lovecraft Country by Matt Ruff… nice antiquing there by the graphic artist.

Each chapter is based around a separate family member or friend, describing their particular experience of it all as the plot dashes forwards, with all of these aspects ultimately uniting in the grand finale. The protagonist tying all of this together is Atticus Turner, a name which some have conjectured is a portmanteau of the principled defence lawyer Atticus Finch from To Kill A Mocking Bird and the very real, bold and defiant enslaved African American, Nat Turner, who led an uprising of enslaved and free black people against the inhumane authorities in Virginia in 1831.

Author Matt Ruff

Author Matt Ruff.

This seems apposite as he demonstrates many of their central qualities along with some that are his alone, including being a veteran of the Korean War and an avid science fiction fan. This latter attribute leads to some wonderful exchanges with his similarly enthusiastic uncle and baffled father which surely mirror the experiences of any passionate fan of speculative fiction. Interestingly, some of the most successful chapters centre on female characters. This is not least because the writer has taken care to outfit them with strong, distinctive identities and allowed them proactive agency and personal motivations that can sometimes be over looked in the writing of characters of the female persuasion – in both genre and literary fiction. It’s almost as if this particular author thinks women are real people, which again feels rather wonderful as women feature very little in canonical Lovecraft. The fact that people of colour and women share centre stage in defiance of Lovecraft’s repressive approach may have the fan boys yipping about legitimacy – but that’s just what they do, isn’t it?

The author of this gripping yarn is the critically acclaimed cult novelist, Matt Ruff, a well-regarded American writer covering diverse areas of genre fiction including sci-fi, post-cyberpunk, speculative and alternate history. His fifth book The Mirage dealt sensitively with Muslim culture and characters.

Influential horror writer H. P. Lovecraft in 1933

1933 photo of influential (and undeniable racist) horror writer H. P. Lovecraft

And so Ruff’s premise tackles Lovecraft’s notorious racism head on. This notoriety recently lead to the World Fantasy Awards replacing the bust of Lovecraft they’d used as the trophy for winners with an innocuous (and rather uninspired) statuette of a tree, finally understanding that any winner who happened to be a person of colour didn’t want the face of an infamous racist staring at them from their mantelpiece. Ruff’s confident explorations of both sundown towns – where black people were (and sometines still are) subject to legal summary execution after dusk (cf. Trayvon Martin) – and shoggoths are equally disturbing.

Most of the action in Lovecraft Country doesn’t take place either there (New England) or in Jim Crow Country either but in Chicago, yet there is still plenty of racial abuse and aggravation to go around. This randomly ranges from traffic cops pushing their petty weight around to people of colour being unable to buy houses in certain areas to the afore mentioned summary execution as punishment for the unforgivable crime of breathing while black.

The cultists – the Order of the Ancient Dawn – do not hide their intentions and prejudices behind white hoods, instead their money and power shields them. Caleb Braithewhite, the main antagonist, is apparently not an avowed racist, even standing up to bigotry to some degree. However, with an impunity born of a life time of unquestioned privilege, he also reflexively uses all of the advantages society has afforded him as a wealthy, upper class white man against our cast of every day characters who just happen to be black, in order to expedite getting what he wants. This vividly illustrates that latent and systemic racism, the kind purveyed by people who don’t consider themselves racist, also warps, damages and destroys the lives of people of colour, just as the more blatant burning crosses and lynching variety does. Caleb himself is actually a bit of a weak point, he’s not a very good bad guy, if you see what I mean.

Ruff confronts and writes well of that moment familiar to many a genre reader when a writer you adore makes plain their racist, misogynistic or homophobic opinions and a part of you dies a little in response, creating an ambivalence about whether enjoying their work is to tacitly endorse hatred. What does it mean to consume the output of someone whose moral compass points to true bigotry?  Is it hypocritical to value the work of someone whose views you fundamentally disagree with, that you know to be wrong? And how much more potent is that dilemma when you, the reader, are a member of the designated and despised demographic upon whom much venom is spewed simply for being what you are? Are you betraying yourself and your background if you read and enjoy the non-prejudiced parts anyway? The worst kind of unashamed vile racism is the great sin that taints Lovecraft’s work and I cannot imagine how it must feel to be a Lovecraft fan and a person of colour reading the Lovecraft poem, ‘On The Creation of the [N-word]’ The fact that Lovecraft Country itself – in which that particular poem is discussed – is a sharp retort and a clever clap-back to HPL’s retrogressive opinions is yet another point in its favour.

Having heaped all of that praise upon it, however, this is where I kill the buzz by pointing out that the book is not perfect. Although the characters are sensitively portrayed and the central idea of ‘who cares about tentacle monsters and blind albino penguins when I live in a society devoted to degrading, abusing and dehumanising me for every minute of my entire goddamn life?’ is a particularly effective one, it is not entirely successfully explored. The book has generally been well received but there are some lingering criticisms. Some felt it had nothing new to say on the issue of race, some felt exploring racism through the work of a notorious racist was in questionable taste.

A Shoggoth by Nottsuo

The existence of a shoggoth – as depicted here by Nottsuo – is not something you would take in your stride.

My personal criticism is this: in his eagerness to counteract Lovecraft’s position of reactionary hatred, which is a perfectly laudable aim, Ruff has created not characters but Platonic ideals of humanity, paragons almost totally without flaw, who are altogether too pat, too good, too perfect and in that they lose something of the messiness of what it means to be human. Perhaps this is a consequence of the idea that all victims are righteous? Atticus and his family and friends are all brave and clever and never confused or even slightly overawed by bizarre happenings, no one ever splutters, ‘Huh?’ or ‘What!?’ or ‘Wow!’ they merely take it all in their stride. For example, I’d be rather taken aback to accidentally discover – and reluctant to unquestioningly jump straight into – an interplanetary portal whether or not I was an astronomy enthusiast like Hippolyta who finds herself in such a situation which of course she deals with handily, remaining as they all do ever insouciant. They all drip with savoir faire and aplomb, never showing fear, cowardice or doubt. They lack any major character flaws and they never seek to turn situations to their advantage or in fact claim anything more than what they’re owed when others might well seek to leverage the situation. These incorruptible exmplars of humanity at its most faultless therefore lack the speck of authenticity that would have made them leap off the page and into a permanent place in the reader’s affections. Because of this they came off as a little pious and that is never a good look; it is an attitude that is also a trifle dull. It certainly put this reader off a little bit and I found myself longing for one of these goodie-goodies to come down with a severe case of self-interest or become even a teeny bit corrupted by the power they wielded so conscientiously. But no such luck.

Incidentally, there is no mention of Cthulhu – which is strange as that particular great old one has turned into a real media whore these days – and even the shoggoths are all off stage but people seem to forget that they mostly were in Lovecraft’s work too. And of course it would be difficult to plausibly remain preternaturally calm in the face of a gargantuan octopus god from beyond the stars, thereby breaking character.

The director of the amazing film, Get Out, Jordan Peele is to team up with JJ Abrams to make Lovecraft Country into an HBO TV show and I think the book’s episodic format should translate wonderfully, I very much look forward to seeing this novel transferred to the small screen which I think will suit the nature of the material better than a movie would. Prestige TV here we come!

[side note: Jordan Peele has said that the classic and much underrated horror movie ‘Tales From The Hood’ helped inspire ‘Get Out.’ TFTH also features a cast of black characters battling supernatural as well as racist horror, linking it to Lovecraft Country; if you haven’t seen it already, you really should seek it out.]

Of all the post-Lovecraft Lovecraftian material I’ve wolfed down over the years and, reader, that is a LOT, this book has come closest of all to matching the eerie dread Lovecraft so successfully strove to infect us with. The fact that the cause of that dread is the inescapable racism of people and society, rather than a monster the size of a house or a deadly, infectious colour says a lot. In the end, Matt Ruff has achieved something special and rare with this hugely enjoyable caper through Lovecraft’s mindscape that really has a unique perspective and something meaningful to say.

The Lovecraftian’s Rating: 9/10 (Extremely Good) – If you only read one Lovecraftesque novel about a 1950s African American family battling an evil cult this week, make it Lovecraft Country by Matt Ruff.

Buy Lovecraft Country by Matt Ruff at Amazon.com
Buy Lovecraft Country by Matt Ruff at Amazon.co.uk

Please feel free to comment on this review – or, if you’ve read the book, add your own review – by replying to this post.

More Lovecraftian stuff…

Go HERE for a full list of Lovecraftian film and TV adaptations. We have an expanding section of our website dedicated to The Lovecraftian – purveyor of all the latest news, updates, chatter and trends from the field of Lovecraft lore – the man, his works and his weird worlds of Yog-Sothothery.  Stay up-to-date with the news and join The Lovecraftian’s adventurous expeditions into the world of the Cthulhu Mythos by following him on Twitter where fact and fiction become entwined! The Lovecraftian’s main webpage can be found HERE.

Also: Check out The Lovecraftian Herald, an online newspaper concerning all things Lovecraftian in the world of social media and beyond. Published daily by us here at Harbinger451.

For the uninitiated:

H. P. Lovecraft (1890-1937) was an influential and prolific American writer of early twentieth century cosmic horror fiction who saw himself chiefly as a poet – though many believe that it is his immense body of often literary correspondence that is in fact his greatest accomplishment – he wrote over 100,000 letters in his lifetime. He inspired a veritable legion of genre writers then, and to this day, to set their fiction within his strange cultish world.

The Cthulhu Mythos: Lovecraft, somewhat light-heartedly, labelled the “Mythos” that he created in his body of work Yog-Sothothery – and also, on rare occasions, referred to his series of connected stories as the Arkham Cycle. It was his friend August Derleth who coined the term “Cthulhu Mythos” (named after one of the monstrous beings that featured in Lovecraft’s tales) to encapsulate his epic vision of a chaotic and dark universe filled with unspeakable horror.

Brought to your attention by Harbinger451.

Copyright © 2017 Harbinger451 – All Rights Reserved

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Lovecraftian Book Review: Whispers From The Abyss (Volume 2, 2015)

Posted by Harbinger451 on September 21, 2016

The Lovecraftian CategoryThe Horrors That Were & Shall Be (Various Authors, Edited by Kat Rocha, 01Publishing, 2015)

This is the second volume in 01Publishing‘s series, Whispers From the Abyss (see here for review of first volume), collecting together twenty-six short stories inspired by the work of the great H.P.Lovecraft.  I’m pleased to be able to report that this is another great collection and, thanks to the sterling work of the editor Kat Rocha, the high standard of writing established in the first volume has been carried over, creating another treat for Lovecraft fans everywhere.

cover

Cover of Whispers From The Abyss Volume 2: The Horrors That Were & Shall Be (2015)

There are so many good stories within that they cannot all be covered here as they very much deserve but I’ll list several of my personal favourites which just so happen to be the final three stories and among the best.

Echoes in Porcleain by Konstantine Paradias is highly original, looking at the longer-term consequences of the famous R’lyeh from an angle I’ve never encountered before, having something meaningful to say about refugees which obviously has contemporary resonance.

Shadows of the Darkest Jade by Sarah Hans again comes from a unique angle, nicely building up the story to a classically Lovecraft denouement.

The Dreadful Machine by Martin James Hunter is particularly well written with the author having total control of the material, revealing a little at a time as the story moves on, hinting at what’s to come to good effect.  It’s a fittingly excellent way to close this splendid collection.

A few honorable mentions, all of them funny: Nyarlathotep’s Way by Tom Pinchuk; Notebook Concerning The Class Struggle in Dunwich, Found In The Ruins of a Construction Site by Kevin Wetmore; Kickstarter by Richard Lee Byers.

This volume presents a very particular problem for me as a critic.  My review of the first volume was itself criticised for being, if anything, too positive.  But as the material in both volumes is generally excellent, there is genuinely nothing negative to say and so it is out of my hands.  I am therefore left in the critically difficult position of having nothing negative to say – critically difficult as people love to read reviews that demolish their subject (the best ever example of this is of course by Dorothy Parker who famously wrote: ‘This is not a book to be cast aside lightly – it should be thrown with great force!’). And once again, the only, extremely minor critique I can offer is that I’m not terribly impressed by the cover, it is by no means bad, it’s simply not as superlative as the contents.  I’d like to suggest that as many of the stories have a contemporary setting, a similarly modern cover might do the volume more justice and perhaps make it stand out as it very much deserves to.

So congratulations again to 01Publishing and Kat Rocha, here’s hoping there will be a third volume in the series and that it will continue in the original, well written and satisfying vein very clearly established by the first two.

The Lovecraftian’s Rating: 8/10 (Very Good) – another highly recommend volume. If you don’t long to see R’lyeh rise from the dark depths after reading this – there’s something wrong with you.

Buy Whispers From The Abyss Volume 2 at Amazon.com
Buy Whispers From The Abyss Volume 2 at Amazon.co.uk

Also

Buy Whispers From The Abyss Volume 1 at Amazon.com
Buy Whispers From The Abyss Volume 1 at Amazon.co.uk

Please feel free to comment on this review – or, if you’ve read the book, add your own review – by replying to this post.

More Lovecraftian stuff…

Go HERE for a full list of Lovecraftian film and TV adaptations. We have an expanding section of our website dedicated to The Lovecraftian – purveyor of all the latest news, updates, chatter and trends from the field of Lovecraft lore – the man, his works and his weird worlds of Yog-Sothothery.  Stay up-to-date with the news and join The Lovecraftian’s adventurous expeditions into the world of the Cthulhu Mythos by following him on Twitter where fact and fiction become entwined! The Lovecraftian’s main webpage can be found HERE.

Also: Check out The Lovecraftian Herald, an online newspaper concerning all things Lovecraftian in the world of social media and beyond. Published daily by us here at Harbinger451.

For the uninitiated:

H. P. Lovecraft (1890-1937) was an influential and prolific American writer of early twentieth century cosmic horror fiction who saw himself chiefly as a poet – though many believe that it is his immense body of often literary correspondence that is in fact his greatest accomplishment – he wrote over 100,000 letters in his lifetime. He inspired a veritable legion of genre writers then, and to this day, to set their fiction within his strange cultish world.

The Cthulhu Mythos: Lovecraft, somewhat light-heartedly, labelled the “Mythos” that he created in his body of work Yog-Sothothery – and also, on rare occasions, referred to his series of connected stories as the Arkham Cycle. It was his friend August Derleth who coined the term “Cthulhu Mythos” (named after one of the monstrous beings that featured in Lovecraft’s tales) to encapsulate his epic vision of a chaotic and dark universe filled with unspeakable horror.

Brought to your attention by Harbinger451.

Copyright © 2016 Harbinger451 – All Rights Reserved

The Horror of it All

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Lovecraftian Book Review: Whispers From The Abyss (Volume 1, 2013)

Posted by Harbinger451 on September 3, 2016

 The Lovecraftian CategoryWhispers From The Abyss (Various Authors, Edited by Kat Rocha, 01Publishing, 2013)

Has all your reading of H.P.Lovecraft’s entire works left you hungry for more? Good news, fellow Lovecraft fans (Lovecraftians? Necronomicomrades? Cthulhunatics?) – I have the solution! This truly excellent collection of short stories inspired by Lovecraft’s fiction explores all areas of his canon, from the good ol’ Cthulhu Mythos to the more obscure corners of that very unique mind’s body of work.

cover

Cover of Lovecraftian anthology “Whispers From The Abyss” (2013)

Although some of the stories are more successful than others, even the less well realised ones are full of good ideas and the standard of writing never wavers from the highly professional. Of course, none of them achieve the same sense of creeping dread and tearing open of the seams of reality that Lovecraft does, but that is rather like saying, ‘You don’t play the guitar as well as Jimmy Hendrix, do you?’

Particular standouts among the thirty three stories presented include my favourite, The Decorative Water Feature of Nameless Dread by James Brogden which has a wonderfully English slant and is very funny (shout-out to Radio 4!), The Jar of Aten-Hor by Kat Rocha which gets inside the idea of obsession and the final story in the collection, a long one called Death Wore Greasepaint by Josh Finney which comes at the Cthulhu Mythos from an original and very well-realised angle that is highly enjoyable.

I searched hard to find a criticism, the only one is extremely minor and barely worth mentioning at all – but I will anyway as that’s a critic’s job: a volume this good deserves a better cover.

There is a second volume of this collection which is reviewed HERE, but I heartily encourage 01Publishing to keep going with this series, especially if they can maintain the high standard that they have set for themselves with this initial collection.

The Lovecraftian’s Rating: 8/10 (Very Good) – highly recommend. I devoured it like Cthulhu swallowing a world and you most certainly will too.

Buy Whispers From The Abyss at Amazon.com
Buy Whispers From The Abyss at Amazon.co.uk

Please feel free to comment on this review – or, if you’ve read the book, add your own review – by replying to this post.

More Lovecraftian stuff…

Go HERE for a full list of Lovecraftian film and TV adaptations. We have an expanding section of our website dedicated to The Lovecraftian – purveyor of all the latest news, updates, chatter and trends from the field of Lovecraft lore – the man, his works and his weird worlds of Yog-Sothothery.  Stay up-to-date with the news and join The Lovecraftian’s adventurous expeditions into the world of the Cthulhu Mythos by following him on Twitter where fact and fiction become entwined! The Lovecraftian’s main webpage can be found HERE.

Also: Check out The Lovecraftian Herald, an online newspaper concerning all things Lovecraftian in the world of social media and beyond. Published daily by us here at Harbinger451.

For the uninitiated:

H. P. Lovecraft (1890-1937) was an influential and prolific American writer of early twentieth century cosmic horror fiction who saw himself chiefly as a poet – though many believe that it is his immense body of often literary correspondence that is in fact his greatest accomplishment – he wrote over 100,000 letters in his lifetime. He inspired a veritable legion of genre writers then, and to this day, to set their fiction within his strange cultish world.

The Cthulhu Mythos: Lovecraft, somewhat light-heartedly, labelled the “Mythos” that he created in his body of work Yog-Sothothery – and also, on rare occasions, referred to his series of connected stories as the Arkham Cycle. It was his friend August Derleth who coined the term “Cthulhu Mythos” (named after one of the monstrous beings that featured in Lovecraft’s tales) to encapsulate his epic vision of a chaotic and dark universe filled with unspeakable horror.

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The Horror of it All

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Posted in The Horror of it All!, The Lovecraftian | Tagged: , , , , , , | 9 Comments »

 
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