Nightmare Alley – William Lindsay Gresham Rinehart and Company – 1946
Most of the books I’ve read over the past few years have been horror novels. I generally read 1 non-horror book every month, but I don’t discuss those here. When I started reading Nightmare Alley, I didn’t intend on reviewing it, but after finishing it, I needed to set some thoughts down. This is now one of my favourite novels
In most horror novels, there is good and evil. Sometimes the evil is triumphant, but the books are about vampires or slime creatures, and the reader knows that these don’t exist, so it’s easy to put the books down and not let them interfere with how you see the real world.
Nightmare Alley doesn’t feature vampires or slime creatures, but every page of it screams that human beings are deeply flawed creatures. Everyone is out for themselves. There are no bonds between people that are sacred or permanent. Existence is a competitive, futile nightmare.
This is a novel about Stanton Carlisle. He’s a magician in a carnival freak show. Throughout the novel, he manipulates whoever he can to get ahead. After a while, he becomes a succesful spiritualist and runs his own Church. The freaks and the occulty stuff Stanton peddles are probably enough to warrant this book’s inclusion on this site, but the bleak outlook guaranteed it.
“In a patch of silver the Rev. Carlisle stopped and raised his face to the full moon, where it hung desolately, agonizingly bright – a dead thing watching the dying earth.”
The opening chapter is a conversation between the protagonist and the leader of the freak show about where to find a geek. (A geek, for those who don’t know, is a man who bites the head off chickens.) The boss explains that geeks aren’t found. They’re made. The explanation he provides is brutal and poignant.
I’m sure that countless edgy writers of bizarro and horror fiction have set stories in freakshows. (Remember that classic X-Files episode?) A freakshow presents so many opportunities for weirdness, but Gresham never cashes in on this. The freaks here are real people, and they’re just as willing to walk all over others as anyone else in the novel, maybe even moreso due to their experiences. There wasn’t a single moment in the book that wasn’t entirely believable.
This was a great one. Most of the stuff I review on this blog is shit compared to this book. There’s a new movie version coming out later this year, but don’t wait for that. Read this book now.
Children of the Black Sabbath – Anne Hébert Crown Publishers – 1977 (Originally published as Les Enfants du Sabbat in 1975)
This book is about a daughter of Satan who becomes a nun and wreaks havoc in her convent. The title sounds like a heavy metal tribute act. Anne Hébert is a respected author, but she wrote in French, and there’s very few reviews of the English translation of this book. Also, it was recently reissued by Centipede Press, one of the coolest publishers out there. I had to read this.
At first I wasn’t sure if Sister Julie, the protagonist, was actually possessed or if she was just mental. The Devil is here though. There is real wickedness at play, and some very nasty things occur. Sister Julie is from a long line of witches, and without spoiling the story, I will say that she performs a pretty blasphemous miracle by the end of the book.
Hébert was an award winning French Canadian author. There’s unannounced perspective changes and flashbacks in here, and you have to pay attention when you’re reading it. (This isn’t a problem though. There’s plenty going on to hold your attention.) Even though it’s a translation, this book felt more literary than a lot of the horror fiction I review here.
I’m not really sure what the message of the book is. I might be biased, but I thought the head nun and priest of the convent come across as more dislikable than the daughter of Satan who is working towards their ruin. Sister Julie is not a standard hero figure though. The source of her powers seems to be the incestuous rape and neglect she suffered as a child. The suffering she has endures makes it hard not to want to see her succeed in her endevours, but she also lashes out at people who don’t deserve it. The book doesn’t seem to come firmly down on the side of god or Satan.
This was atmospheric, tense, dark fiction. You should read it.
I usually just review books, but this is my blog, and many of the books I review are on occult phenomena, so I think it’s appropriate to discuss my own occult activities here.
About a year ago, I moved into a new apartment. I lived there comfortably for about two weeks, but then my upstairs neighbour started making a lot of noise, blasting music way past my bed time. I asked him to turn it down, and he was polite about it, but then it happened again a few days later. A pattern started to emerge, and our relationship quickly soured. Things got so unpleasant that when my teething baby would cry at night, this douchebag would get out of bed and turn on his stereo.
I’m not going to give out any more specifics, but I can say with absolute certainty that my neighbour was the dickhead in this situation. If you’ve ever had a similar experience, I’m sure you’ll understand. (If you’ve ever been the unapologetic noisy neighbour, find yourself a bridge and jump off it, shithead.)
The noise really got to me, but the arrogance and entitlement were the worst. Living under that prick made me miserable. I would happily have blasted him with some of the crap I listen to, but I have small kids, and for their sakes I didn’t want to escalate the situation. What got me through the year was the knowledge that we’d be moving again this summer. Even though I knew the situation was only temporary, the tension started to affect other aspects of my life.
I write for my blog every week, but I rarely do any creative writing. I’ve been meaning to do more, and I read somewhere that a good creative writing exercise is to just sit down and start typing. I decided to give this a go a few weeks ago. I immediately produced an extremely unpleasant piece of writing about what I’d like to do to my upstairs neighbour. It’s grim and certainly not for public consumption, but I liked parts of it, so I saved it with the plan to share it with some close friends after we moved away. (If some accident befell Dingdong before we moved out, the document would certainly have incriminated me.)
Knowing that we were going to move, I regularly fantasized about the few days at the end of our tenancy when the window for revenge would be open. I planned a bit of a dance party for the night before we left. I considered blasting some brutal power-violence or death metal, but I decided that repetitive, bass-heavy techno would travel better through our ceiling. I tried finding the perfect song to blare on repeat, but I couldn’t make up my mind, so I decided to make my own.
As much as I wanted to blast this at the cunt, it just didn’t seem harsh enough. This utter bastard deserved a lot worse than a couple of minutes of confusion/mild irritation. I decided to put a curse on him instead.
Hey, remember that piece of writing I mentioned? I figured out how to use it. I only had to alter it a little bit to turn it into the text of a curse. Here is a heavily redacted version. (I’ve moved out, and I have no intention of ever having any contact with that dickhead again, but posting the full text would still be a poor idea.)
I imported the unredacted version of the above text file into Audacity, a sound editing program, as raw data. Doing this basically turns any file on your computer into noise. I then found an image of my neighbour on google images and did the same thing to that. (The image atop this post isn’t actually him.) I then reduced the playback speed of the sound of the image so that it was closer to the length of the sound of the text and panned the sounds of the image and text to opposite sides. Next, I stretched them both again and amplified the sound to make it more audible.
This was the noise through which I would wreak vengeance, but magic doesn’t have to be minimalist, so I imported this sound into FL Studio and heaped a bunch of effects on it to make it sound sick. I also added a recording that I made of the actual noise coming from upstairs. This ingredient charged my baneful magic with real emotional power. It’s also satisfying to think of my enemy directly suffering from his own wrongdoing.
Poppets (“voodoo dolls”) have been used by witches for millennia. The idea is that you make a doll that looks like the person you want to affect, then you do things to it and hope that this has an effect on the real person. It is common practice to place a lock of the victims hair, a toenail clipping, or something that belonged to them inside the poppet. Some magicians use photographs. These elements are believed to strengthen the link between doll and victim, thus making the sympathetic magic more powerful. A series of incantations are uttered over the doll, and these are what activate the link.
The sound that I have created works in a similar way to a poppet, but I know it will be more effective. It contains an image of my victim, and this image is being forced to become one with the textual incantation. The image of his arrogant face and my vision of his suffering will literally become one. The malefecarum is being charged by the audio recording of my victim’s transgressions, made while I was in a frenzy of the blackest hatred. The basic magical theory here is sound (excuse the pun), but I have more reasons to believe it will be effective.
Magic doesn’t work if the practitioner doesn’t believe in it. Magic, as far as I understand it, is not supernatural, and magical acts don’t depend on chance or luck or the fairies; they depend on the will of the magician. I don’t believe my neighbour will suffer because I want it to happen and I’ve read too many books about Aleister Crowley. I know my neighbour will suffer because I will him to suffer. I am the magician, and I control my black magic. My poppet isn’t going to lie in the back of my victim’s chimney or under his porch. It’s going after him.
We moved out a few days ago, but we were able to keep the keys to our old place so that we could clean it before the new tenants arrive. I repeatedly played my spell whenever I could hear my enemy upstairs. I didn’t play it loud enough so that he could complain about it, but it was definitely loud enough for him to hear.
Then at the end, I did play it loud. I accompanied the noise with some ritualistic psychodrama. I filmed the whole thing, but I’m only going to share the final segment where I accompany the noise with the thin, dissonant whine of my blasphemous flute. (Flutes are the favoured instrument of Azathoth, the Nuclear Chaos, so I thought this would be apt.)
I have no doubt whatsoever that he heard me, but as he had seen me moving my furniture out on the previous day, he probably thought that I was just being petty and noisy for the sake of it. Little does he know that the noise I played was heralding his ruination.
I’ll be checking the papers for his obituary daily.
Satan Wants You – Arthur Lyons Mayflower – 1972 (First published 1970)
I’ve probably read enough books about the history of witchcraft and Satanism, but this book is called Satan Wants You, and it has a naked babe drinking out of a human skull on the cover.
The first part of the book is the history of the Devil, witchcraft and the Black Mass. This was fine, but I don’t think I learned anything that I didn’t know already.
The second part of the book is a sociological analysis of Satanism. This book was written during the late 1960s, and Satanism back then was quite different to what it is today. The Church of Satan had only been operating for a few years, and none of the other Satanic groups discussed here are mentioned by name. I assume the approach of sociology has also changed quite a bit since this book was written. Honestly, the latter half of this book is outdated and extremely dull.
Satan Wants You is only 170 pages long, but it’s so boring that it took me a couple of weeks to force myself through it. It would be of interest to a person researching what people in the late 60s/early 70s thought about Satanism, but there are plenty of more accurate and/or more entertaining books on the same topic.
As I was writing this post, I started to wonder how many books on this subject I’ve read. I looked through my index page and realised it was more than I remembered.
The Hand of Cain – Martin Thomas Magnum Books – 1967 (Originally published 1966)
When I see “An Occult Masterpiece” with a severed hand on its cover on sale for less than the price of a cup of coffee, I buy that shit.
I’m just going to summarize this one as I don’t have much to say about it. It is pretty much exactly what I expected.
Matthew, a triplet, has a thing for his brother Alan’s fiancee. He gets into a fight with Alan and kills him. Their dad, Virgil, sees the murder taking place, but covers it up as he is a famous surgeon and doesn’t want the scandal of a murder to harm his reputation. He is so unemotional and practical in the moments after he sees one of his sons killing the other that I almost gave up on the book. I was soon glad I didn’t.
A few weeks later, Timothy, the good remaining triplet, is involved in a tragic accident and gets his hands chopped off. His dad drives him home from the scene of the accident and prepares to operate. When Matthew, the bad triplet, gets home, his dad drugs him, chops off his hands and then sews them onto the good son. I almost cheered at this part. Sick!
Matthew is pretty bummed out that his dad cut off his hands, but if he says or does anything about it, his dad will out him as a murderer.
One night, he is moping around a nightclub when he meets an Indian dwarf who offers to curse his family for £200. After smoking a “reefer” with Swami Barham Lal Sivasan. Matthew passes out and wakes up in his car wondering if it was all a dream.
Soon thereafter, Timothy rapes and murders his dead brother Alan’s old girlfriend, the one Matthew liked. After killing her, he smashes her head with a rock. Then he kills a drunk man for puking on him. Then he kills a child for scratching his car. Are his brother’s transplanted hands to blame or is it the curse? Timothy soon gets sloppy and Matthew sees him dumping one of the bodies.
When the Swami comes to Matthew to demand payment, Matthew decides to blackmail Timothy to get the money. He takes glee in the idea that Timothy will be paying for his own doom. Timothy, who has since raped and killed another girl, doesn’t want to pay up, so the brothers get into a fight. Matthew uses a broken glass to turn Tim’s face into a pile of mush while Tim is choking him to death. One again, Virgil walks in to see one of his sons dying at the hands of his brother. He’s pretty pissed off at this point, so he gets an ax and uses it to chop off his remaining child’s hands. After Tim has his hands chopped off for the second time, he bleeds to death beside the brother he just strangled.
I have absolutely no regrets about buying and reading this book. It was old fashioned in some regards. Women exist here solely to be preyed upon, and Indians exist to collect bus fares or curse people. It was definitely a bit nastier and exploitative than I expected, absolute trash really but definitely worth the 3 dollars I paid for it.
The Dark Lord: H.P. Lovecraft, Kenneth Grant, and the Typhonian Tradition in Magic Peter Levenda Ibis Press – 2013
Imagine your kid’s birthday is coming up. You go to the dollar store and buy one of those premade piñatas. You take it home and spend several days drawing intricate occult symbols all over it. The big day comes. Your kid can’t wait to smash the shit out of his piñata to get some sweeties. He notices the crap you’ve drawn on the outside, but he doesn’t really give a shit. He gives it a few good whacks and the piñata breaks open. Nothing falls out. You didn’t bother to fill it with sweets.
You are Peter Levenda, the piñata is this book, and I am the son who will never forgive you for this. The Dark Lord is 340 pages of meandering, pointless twoddle.
The book’s full title is The Dark Lord: H.P. Lovecraft, Kenneth Grant, and the Typhonian Tradition in Magic. I thought this was going to be an in depth look at how the eldritch entities of Lovecraft’s mythos have infiltrated modern occultism, not a fucking treatise on magical pussy juice. Admittedly, Levenda does address Lovecraft’s influence on Kenneth Grant, but despite the title, this book is far more concerned with Grant’s work than it is with Lovecraft’s. Although I had read one of Grant’s books before this one, I was not aware that he was so interested in vaginal discharge.
Maybe I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s lay out some facts before I discuss the contents of this book further.
Lovecraft and Crowley never corresponded with each other. There’s an oft quoted reference to an English magician in one of Lovecraft’s stories, but no definitive proof that either man was aware of the other.
Kenneth Grant noticed that if you compare the vast amounts of writing these two guys left behind, you will find phrases and words that could be addressing the same events, ideas and entities. Grant wrote a series of books that argued that this is not coincidental.
Grant’s writing is notoriously difficult to read. Levenda himself compares it to the rambling of a person suffering from schizophrenia, so Levenda wrote a book trying to distill the parts pertinent to the motifs used in Lovecraft’s horror fiction from the kabbalistic, numerological fiddle faddle that takes up so much of Grant’s writing.
It’s not really fair to say that The Dark Lord is a book about Lovecraft’s influence on Grant. It’s more a book about similarities in their ideologies. Both were fascinated by the idea of a dark, chaotic gods that will drastically alter the course of human history. Lovecraft put these in his stories. Grant tried to devise ways to communicate with them.
The book goes into detail on different forms of magic and how these forms of magic are focused on the darker aspects of human nature. According to Grant, the ultimate goal of all forms of magic is to communicate with alien entities.
The best way to communicate with these entities apparently requires gallons of magical vaginal discharge. It turns out that there’s 16 different types of gee juice, each one having its own purpose in magical rituals. If you want to get the Dark Lord to assist you in your mystical endeavors, you’re going to need your wife or girlfriend to allow you to collect samples of her vaginal moisture every evening for a fortnight.
I’ve tried to be fair with this list. In the context of this blog, I don’t think any of the above statements are unfair or misleading.
I think I’d be a lot more polite when reviewing occult books if their authors didn’t have their heads stuffed so far up their own arses. At several points Levenda mentions how Grant references the “Schlangekraft recension of the Necronomicon“. Just in case you didn’t know, the book being referenced is an infamous hoax, and Levenda is widely believed to be the person who cobbled it together. Think about that for a moment. Levenda knows better than anyone in the world that one of Grant’s sources is bollocks because he himself made it up, yet he still writes a book about Grant’s teachings. Whenever I think of Levenda from now on, I’ll imagine him hunkered over on himself with his head between his knees trying to inhale his own farts.
The weirdest thing about this book was that I kinda enjoyed it. It’s been a long time since I had to power my way through a book with big sections on chakras and Kabballah. Knowing that I’d get to express the resultant frustrations on here made these parts tolerable. I’ll probably never read occult books at the rate I was getting through them three years ago, but I’m already planning on a few more in the near future.
One other thing before I go: There’s a part in this book that mentions a form of yoga that teaches men how to suck sperm back into their dicks after it has been ejaculated. It’s called Vajroli Mudra. I couldn’t find any proof that this is possible, but I truly hope it is. I want to transform my willy into a little elephant’s trunk. slurp slurp slurp
I have read a few occult pornos, the best of them by far being Inpenetrable/Spawn of the Devil. If you have read my review of that book, you might recall that I suggested that it seemed like a mildly erotic novel that had been rewritten to include ridiculously explicit scenes of perversion. Not only did the author know a bit about occultism, but the story was actually relatively entertaining without the sex. The same can not be said about the other works of occult pornography that I’ve reviewed here. The authors of Raped by the Devil and Satan was a Lesbian didn’t know a damned thing about occultism, and their books were awful. Because of these facts, I assumed that authors of occult porno who were actually interested in the occult would probably write interesting books.
One of the responses to my post on Inpenetrable informed me of existence of a series of books called “The Black Pearl: The Memoirs of Victorian Sex Magician“. Although these books were published anonymously, the internet claimed that the author was actually Gerald Suster. Suster was an occultist and a historian. He also wrote a biography of Aleister Crowley and several horror novels. I hadn’t (and still haven’t) read any of his other books, but from what I had read about Suster, it seemed to me that he, if anyone, might be capable of writing another book like Inpenetrable.
There’s four volumes to the Black Pearl. I spent a long time trying to track down all four, and I eventually ended up with 2 anthologies that feature 2 volumes each. One is a hardback without its dust jacket, and the other is a paperback with a cover that got me in trouble with my wife.
The Black Pearl: The Memoirs of a Victorian Sex-Magician, Anthology 1 (Volumes One & Two) BCA – 1997
The Black Pearl: The Continuing Memoirs of a Victorian Sex-Magician, Anthology 2 (Volumes Three & Four) NEL – 2001
I read the first volume of the series in early 2020. It was pretty tough to get through, and it took a few weeks to finish. There is a backstory at play, but it’s convoluted and dumb, and it really only serves to introduce new characters. Each chapter features Horby, the titular protagonist, meeting up with some famous Victorians and swapping dirty stories. He runs into Aleister Crowley, Oscar Wilde, Arthur Machen and a bunch more in just the first volume. They’ll meet in a café, the narrator will spend 2 paragraphs describing the food they’re eating, and then they’ll open up and recount their recent sexual escapades. The smut is very dull. There’s an occasional spanked bottom and maybe a stray finger up the arse, but it’s mostly just blow-jobs and riding. There was a little bit of rape too. I skipped most of the sex scenes after the first few chapters. I’m not saying that to make myself seem like less of a pervert. I genuinely found these bits boring. After finishing the first volume, I moved straight onto the second, but it was too much. I gave up after 7 chapters.
More than a year has passed, and I recently decided to go back and finish the series. Each of the volumes contains an introduction and a recapitulation of the preceding events. I had planned to read all of these parts in succession and then skip ahead to the 4th volume to get the full story. As I read through the summaries of the second and third volumes, I became intrigued with some of the events they were describing, so I skimmed back through these volumes to cherry-pick the juicy bits. Doing so ensured that I never got around to reading the 4th volume. The short passages I skimmed reminded me of how painful these books are to read.
The four volumes combined add up to 1344 pages. More than half of these pages are filled with descriptions of “slick cunnies” and “rampant pricks”. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy a slick cunny as much as the next fellow, but there is too much of a good thing. The remainder of the books, the parts that describe the lives of fin de siècle celebrities are clearly well researched and almost interesting, but the context is too ridiculous for any insight on the lives of these people to sink in. You read a passage and start wondering if Arthur Machen was really as shy as he is being depicted, but then the narrator starts talking about being tied up and having his arse slapped. It makes it hard to concentrate. There’s a part where Sigmund Freud shows up and gives a serious speech on his theories of sexuality as he dines on chicken soup and gefilte fish. Then another character asks him, ” When are you going to put your throbbing hot cock within my warm moist cunt?”
These books were a real disappointment. They’re crap, but they weren’t cheap, and it was confusing trying to make sure I wasn’t buying the same collection twice. I’m a bit of a completist when it comes to buying series too, so I didn’t want to read the first book until I owned the second. It all seems like a waste of time effort and money now. Not only that, but it turns out I don’t really own the complete series. Suster actually published a bunch more of this kind of stuff including Unholy Passions, Wolverines, Gothic Passions and Vixens. Apparently these, and a few others, share characters and themes with The Black Pearl books. I will not being hunting any of the others down. I don’t even know if I want to read Suster’s normal fiction anymore.
If I had gotten my hands on The Black Pearl books a few years ago, I probably would have soldiered on and read through them. I can’t do that any more. I get to read for maybe half an hour a day at this point, and I don’t want to spend that time wading through boring porn.
The Devil in Love – Jacques Cazotte Heinemann – 1925 (Originally published as Le Diable Amoureux in 1772)
Jacques Cazotte was a rich French lad who may have been a psychic member of the Illuminati. (He was definitely a freemason, and it is claimed that he prophesized the coming of the French Revolution at a dinner party in 1788.) His head was cut off in 1792.
Oh, and twenty years before he died, he wrote an occult romance called Le Diable Amoureux. There have been several translations of this work into English, and while the earlier ones had a bunch of different titles, most of the versions that are currently available are published as The Devil in Love. I read the 1925 edition, a reprint of the 1793 translation. (Here is a great article that goes into more detail on the different editions of this text, and here is a pdf of the text I read.)
Don Alvaro, a stupid Spanish lad, meets a Jafar type character named Soberano who has power over demons, and Alvaro immediately wants to get in on the action. Soberano tells him that it takes years of training to control demons, but Alvaro summons Beelzebub on his first go. Beelzebub shows up in the form of a minging camel, but he turns into Biondetta, a sexy babe, when Alvaro grimaces.
The rest of the book is basically Biondetta getting Alvaro to fall in love with her. There’s a slow power transfer, and towards the end Alvaro is set to start doing her bidding rather than the other way around.
The story is very straight forward, and it felt pretty familiar to me. This is a very short work too, and the version I read is an old translation of an older book. Maybe some of the charm got lost in translation. The Devil in Love is an interesting little curiosity, but there’s not that much too it. It’s the kind of book that would make a better music video than a movie.
Anton LaVey – The Satanic Witch Feral House – 1989 (Originally published at The Compleat Witch in 1971)
I read the Satanic Bible in January 2014. I originally bought a copy to leave on my coffee table when guests were over as a joke. When I read it, I was amused by much of it but never took it too seriously.
I’ve changed quite a bit since 2014. I got married, became a father and got a real job. I suppose I’ve grown up. I don’t think of myself as a particularly good person, and I think it is everyone’s responsibility to prioritise their own well being, but I have no time for anyone who fails to see the importance of treating others with patience and kindness. I have also spent more than a sensible amount of time posting in “satanic” message groups on facebook over the last few years, and almost every Satanist I have encountered has been an utter imbecile.
The world has changed since 2014 too, almost definitely for the worst. I know that politicians have always been awful, but the political leaders and decisions of the last few years have largely been horrible. A philosophy based on greed and hedonism seems the exact opposite of what the world needs right now.
All of these factors have led me to the conclusion that The Church of Satan and its followers are a gang of dorks. Despite this, I decided to read Anton La Vey’s The Satanic Witch. This book’s cover boasts that it is designed for “women cunning and crafty enough to employ the working formulas within, which instantly surpass the entire catalogue of self help tomes and new age idiocies.” Bullshit. It’s designed for insecure losers who don’t value their individuality.
I had heard that this was embarrassing nonsense, but I wasn’t quite prepared for how stupid it truly is. The 1989 edition begins with an introduction by Zeena LaVey, the author’s daughter. Zeena claims that she became a Satanic Witch at the age of 3 and discusses how she learned that sex could be used as a tool while she was still a child. She talks about looking at her father’s porno magazines as a kid and how she got pregnant when she was 13, two years after she first read The Satanic Witch. These details are provided in attempt to depict Zeena as sexually liberated, but their real effect is to make Anton look like a seriously shitty parent. How are we supposed to take his book of advice for “women who want more control over their lives” seriously when he was such an atrociously irresponsible father? Even a shit father probably cares more about his kid than a stranger, and if LaVey couldn’t prevent his child from getting raped and impregnated at 13, how will he be able to do anything for anyone else? (I know that you shouldn’t blame a rape victim’s parents for their being attacked, but I think its different when the parent is giving their child access to pornography and books on sexual manipulation.)
I managed to get through the first few chapters of ridiculously outdated mysogonistic nonsense, but I gave up when I got to the “LaVey Personality Synthesizer”. LaVey sets out a range of people and shows which type of partner these folks will be compatible with. He writes as if he was an expert psychologist, but we all know he was just a baldy wanker.
I was going to try to paraphrase the sections of the book that I got through, but it’s too excruciating. There’s no sense to any of this utter hogswash. The only thing this pathetic pile of shit will teach anyone is what kind of women dorky little fuckboys like the author are attracted to.
Part of my reason for tryjng to read this pile of crap was that I had heard of a book called The Satanic Warlock that is essentially an updated version of this book intended for the incel crowd. I am still curious about reading this one even though I am sure it’s even worse than The Satanic Witch. Part of my motivation to review The Satanic Warlock is to write a mean spirited review that will hopefully hurt the feelings of the author and his readers, but as Anton LaVey is dead, I have no such impetus to delve any further into his work.
This is the first book of non-fiction that I have discussed this year, and it was a real stinker. If anyone has any recommendations for occult/Fortean/weird non-fiction books that don’t absolutely suck, please send them my way!
I first read Algernon Blackwood years ago. I was just starting to get into weird fiction, and I read the Penguin edition of his stories right after reading a similar volume of Arthur Machen’s best tales. I always felt like I rushed through the Blackwood book, and I’ve been meaning to give him another go for years. I recently decided to read his John Silence stories. John Silence is an occult detective predating Carnacki,Duke De Richleau and Doctor Orient. The book pictured above is the first John Silence collection. It contains 5 tales. There is a more recent collection put out by Dover with an introduction by S.T. Joshi and an additional story. This is all pretty old stuff though, and it’s all public domain, so I just downloaded an e-book for free. Here’s what I thought of the stories:
APsychical Invasion This is the worst story in the collection and a terrible introduction to the book. It’s a boring haunted house yarn. It was like a shit version of Bulwer Lytton’s The Haunted and the Haunters, itself a boring story.
Ancient Sorceries This was the only story in the collection that I had read before. I remembered that it was about cat people, but I had forgotten that these cat people worshipped the Devil. I enjoyed this one, but it isn’t really a John Silence story. Silence merely listens to the tale as it’s recounted by one of his patients. He plays no part in the events described.
The Nemesis of Fire This is another haunted house story, but it’s a lot more interesting than the other one. It involves an ancient Egyptian fire spirit. It was alright.
Secret Worship This is another story in which John Silence only plays a small role. It might also be my favourite in the collection. It’s about a man returning to the strict boarding school/ monastery where he spent his youth. The place has fallen into ill repute, and this guy has to discover why the hard way.
TheCamp of the Dog This one is pretty bad to be honest. A werewolf is on the loose in a campsite. There’s never any mystery as to what is going on and the way the characters respond to the crisis is completely unbelievable. A man sees his daughter attacked by a werewolf on an uninhabited island, hundreds of miles from civilisation. He has a gun but doesn’t shoot the werewolf dead immediately. Come on… On top of being unbelievable, this was way too long. It was a real stinker.
A Victim of Higher Space The last story, and the only one not contained in the original 1908 collection, is about a man who passes into other dimensions. It was like a horror version of Flatland by Edwin Abbott Abbott. It was alright.
Honestly, this collection was pretty crap. Only two of the six stories are enjoyable, and it’s not a coincidence that those two tales are the ones that aren’t really about the eponymous occult detective. John Silence is a know-it-all cunt, and I’d like to box him in the mouth.
I’d be willing to give Blackwood another chance, but not for a while.