The Best Witch Books Ever: Part One—Here Are MY Faves…

“A witch is a magician, who, either by open or secret league, is wittingly or unwillingly contenteth to use the aid and assistance of the devil in the working of wonders or misery to those about, both friend and enemy alike.”

– William Perkins, A Discourse on the Damned Art of Witchcraft, 1608

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Illustration/Design: Sanguine Woods.

Here they are…my faves–well part of them, anyway (stay tuned for Parts Two and Three); and they’re not in any type of order. I purposely refrained from giving them any kind of rating–ratings are biased by nature; this way, you can judge for yourself.

To me, they just have to be scary (adult scary–although I am a big fan of Roald Dahl). If you were burned to death tied to a stake, you’d be scary, too.

I also enjoy an eerie old-fashioned gothic atmosphere, which can add a complexity if written well that doesn’t always need scares to be effective. (The scary part usually rules out YA and Teen fiction for me; if you know of one I’ve missed, please send me a note!) Other than that just give me thoughtful characterization and good prose.

“By the Pricking of my Thumbs, something wicked this way comes.”  Witches, Macbeth

***

White is for Witching by Helen Oyeyemi, 2009

white“White is for witching, a colour to be worn so that all other colours can enter you, so that you may use them. At a pinch, cream will do.”

There’s something strange about the Silver family house in the closed-off town of Dover, England. Grand and cavernous with hidden passages and buried secrets, it’s been home to four generations of Silver women—Anna, Jennifer, Lily, and now Miranda, who has lived in the house with her twin brother, Eliot, ever since their father converted it to a bed-and-breakfast. The Silver women have always had a strong connection, a pull over one another that reaches across time and space, and when Lily, Miranda’s mother, passes away suddenly while on a trip abroad, Miranda begins suffering strange ailments. An eating disorder starves her. She begins hearing voices. When she brings a friend home, Dover’s hostility toward outsiders physically manifests within the four walls of the Silver house, and the lives of everyone inside are irrevocably changed. And of course there is the house itself, 29 Barton Road, whose lines in the novel are grotesque, chilling and beautiful. At once an unforgettable mystery and a meditation on race, nationality, and family legacies, White is for Witching is a boldly original, terrifying, and elegant novel by a prodigious talent.

Winner of the Somerset Maugham Award
One of Granta’s Best Young British Novelists
From the acclaimed author of Mr. Fox; & Boy, Snow, Bird

“Be prepared to be enchanted…” – Fantasy Book Critic

Review: https://fantasybookcritic.blogspot.com/2009/07/white-is-for-witching-by-helen-oyeyemi.html

Hex by Thomas Olde Heuvelt, 2016

43A9512F-1E89-4E0C-B400-4016531660A4The greats of genre fiction, Stephen King and George R. R. Martin (Game of Thrones), lead the fanfare for HEX–a good sign that Dutch author Thomas Olde Heuvelt’s debut English novel is both terrifying and unputdownable in equal measure.

Whoever is born here, is doomed to stay until death. Whoever comes to stay here, never leaves. 

Welcome to Black Spring, the seemingly picturesque Hudson Valley town that is haunted by the Black Rock Witch—a 17th-century woman whose eyes and mouth have been sewn shut. Blind and silenced, she walks the streets, entering homes at will. She’s been known to stand next to a child’s bed for nights on end–and no one knows why. So accustomed, in fact, to have her about, the townsfolk have almost grown to forget she’s there…or threat she poses a threat. According to the legend: if the Black Rock Witch’s stitches are ever cut open, the whole town will perish.

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Mark Your Calendar–My new book is coming soon! The Greatest Ghost Stories Ever Told, Vol. I…Visit my publisher and show your support with a Like and a Follow!

Here it is, friends and fellow readers and lovers of all things ghostly! News Release for my new anthology of rare  ghost stories with notes, annotations, articles, and artwork—in addition to some of the most amazing ghost stories almost lost to history!

Pleas visit Wick Press, here, and show your support with a Like and a Follow, won’t you?
Thank you, friends.
🌱SW

https://wickpressblog.wordpress.com/2017/05/03/the-greatest-ghost-stories-ever-told-in-two-volumes-ed-sanguine-woods-volume-i-eta-december-2017/

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A Reblog: Bringing Neglected Classics Back into Print—The Valancourt Classics Catalogue… some great horror & mystery thrillers return from … the grave …

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Young Frankenstein, the Play. Photographer/Actors unknown (Pinterest).

Rise, I say! Rise! Give my creature LIFE!!

I get a little excited, I guess, when publishers bring back awesome books we’ve forgotten about—or never knew about due to their having been published before our time!

Valancourt Books is doing just that, and here is a nice article on the subject with juicy details, from our buds over at Black Gate (an intensely cool website). And check out these revamped covers (below are 8 of them I liked)!

I’ll also include buying info below for those of you who like to build your own horror library.

Hey, life is short; only read the good stuff.

SW🌱

The Article

https://www.blackgate.com/2014/11/27/bringing-neglected-greats-back-into-print-the-horror-catalog-of-valancourt-books/

The Covers

Click in thumbnails to enlarge…

 

 

Where to Buy

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What’s on the tube? The Void Works on So Many Levels. It Really Creeped Me Out… ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ …and let’s clear up some things about “cosmicism” & Lovecraftian “homages”…

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Cop: “What, so you worship the Devil, then?”
Man covered in blood, laughing: “I don’t believe in the Devil. But I believe in this.”

-from The Void

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These creepy, crazy-as-shit cult members terrorize a small town hospital in The Void. If you see the black triangle…it’s too late. (IMDb)

The Void is a 2016 Canadian horror film written and directed by Steven Kostanski and Jeremy Gillespie, and produced by Jonathan Bronfman and Casey Walker. It stars Aaron Poole as deputy Daniel Carter, Kenneth Welsh as Dr. Powell, Daniel Fathers as Vincent, Kathleen Munroe as Allison, and Ellen Wong as Kim. The plot follows a group of people who have been trapped in a hospital by a gathering of hooded cultists. The group soon discovers that the hospital has been inhabited by grotesque creatures. [More here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Void_(2016_film)]

I don’t know about you, but THIS is the stuff of which my nightmares are made. But, let’s clarify one thing up front that the “UK Teaser Trailer” below gets wrong:

A Note on Homages

THE VOID IS NOT an homage to John Carpenter. First of all, Carpenter’s 1982 film, The Thing, is based on John W. Campbell’s 1938 novelette Who Goes There?* All three of the “Thing” films, in fact (1951, 1982, 2011**) owe a debt to Campbell’s story.

Carpenter’s film is an homage to Howard Phillips Lovecraft.*** I can’t say for sure whether Campbell had Lovecraft in mind when he wrote Who Goes There?—but it’s possible, since the story was published a year after Lovecraft’s death.

Above, left to right: Alternative film poster for John Carpenter’s The Thing (Pinterest); illustration by “ArtistMEF” for Lovecraft’s story “The Colour Out of Space” (deviantart.com); a poster concept based on Lovecraft’s story “The Colour Out of Space” (Pinterest)
*https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Who_Goes_There%3F

**The novelette inspired the 1951 film The Thing from Another World, which historically, is pretty nifty, but it’s not Carpenter’s 1982 masterpiece:

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Thing_from_Another_World
https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Thing_(1982_film)
https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Thing_(2011_film)
***https://nerdist.com/john-carpenters-the-thing-lovecraftian-35-anniversary/

THE VOID IS an homage to H. P. Lovecraft.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cosmicism

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lovecraftian_horror


Let’s Talk About Cosmicism…

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Reblog: One of the great independent presses, Undertow Books, hits the mark again! Look at this!

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The Silent Garden: A New Journal of Esoteric Fabulism

From Michael Kelly, Undertow Books (http://www.undertowbooks.com/)

Dear Friends,

On behalf of the Silent Garden Collective, I will be publishing the inaugural volume of The Silent Garden: A Journal of Esoteric Fabulism.

The Silent Garden is a peer-reviewed journal, edited and curated by the Silent Garden Collective, a professional group of editors, writers, and scholars interested in exploring those liminal borderlands where darkness bends.

The Collective’s aim is to provide an annual journal of exceptional writing and art focussed on horror and the numinous, the fabulist, the uncanny, the weird, the gnostic, the avant-garde, the esoteric, and the dark interstices of the known and unknown world.

The Silent Garden Collective is an organic and changing group of editors. Each volume (assuming the first sells well enough) will be edited and curated by a different group. Thus, given the number of people potentially involved, they thought it prudent to form a Collective.

The book is currently in production, and should be available in August. Pricing and ordering information should be available soon. The amazing Table of Contents is listed below. If you want to be notified when it’s available, just drop me an e-mail and I will add you to the mailing list.

Thanks for the interest, folks. I think this is going to be a very special and unique project!

Specs

Deluxe square (8.5” X 8.5”) Hardcover, with interior color illustrations, printed on 70LB paper. Published by Undertow Books.

The inaugural volume of this very cool journal will feature the following:

Art

  • Transcending the Grotesquerie: The Surreal Landscapes of David Whitlam

Essays

  • “Translating The Ritual,” by J.T. Glover
  • “The Raw Food Movement: Comparing Transformative Diets in Han Kang’s The Vegetarian (2015) and Julia Ducournau’s Raw (2016),” by V.H. Leslie
  • “Unstitching the Patriarchy: A review of Camilla Grudova’s The Doll’s Alphabet,” by Rudrapriya Rathore
  • “Cinema of the Body: The Politics of Performativity in Lars Von Trier’s Dogville and Yorgos Lanthimo’s Dogtooth,” by Angelos Koutsourakis

Poetry

  • “Lincoln Hill,” by Daniel Mills
  • “Deposition of Darkness,” by Mesándel Virtusio Arguelles (Translated by Kristine Ong Muslim)
  • “Contortionist,” by Mesándel Virtusio Arguelles (Translated by Kristine Ong Muslim)

Fiction

  • “Waystations of the High Night,” by Marcel Brion (Translated by Edward Gauvin)
  • “Her Blood the Apples, Her Bones the Trees,” by Georgina Bruce
  • “La Tierra Blanca,” by Maurizio Cometto (Translated by Rachel S. Cordasco)
  • “Embolus of Cinnabar,” by Patricia Cram
  • “Palisade,” by Brian Evenson
  • “Under the Casket, A Beach!” by Nick Mamatas
  • “The Other Tiger,” by Helen Marshall
  • “Coruvorn” by Reggie Oliver
  • “Blood and Smoke, Vinegar and Ashes” by D.P. Watt
  • “The Palace of Force and Fire,” by Ron Weighell
  • “Nox Una,” by Marian Womack

Read more, here, and buy this! Support Undertow Books!

https://www.thesilentgarden.com/

http://www.undertowbooks.com/2018/04/29/the-silent-garden/#comment-39909

Reblog: Lovecraft & the Occult…

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The Horror Within by “pigboom” (Reddit).

You know I’m a huge fan of everything “Lovecraftian”. As I read more and more into the occult, what it means, its sources, the culture surrounding it, I realize that many of our greatest writers—from Arthur Machen, to Algernon Blackwood, and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle to Howard Phillips Lovecraft—wrote about subjects steeped in the idea of forbidden knowledge, that which is “hidden”—which is what the term “occult” really means.

Here is a brief yet fascinating look at occult elements in the work of Lovecraft. Read on worshippers, read on!

Lovecraft & the Occult

A major component of cosmic horror in general, and of Lovecraft’s work in particular, is the element of the occult. In many ways, Lovecraft’s occult aspects are true to the origins of the word: much of what various characters in his stories seek is that which remains hidden or concealed from view. By uncovering and practicing secret rituals and speaking ancient words, these characters reveal powerful knowledge and cosmic truths, both awesome and terrifying in their implications and scope. For decades, scholars have explored Lovecraft’s real-life connections to the occult, based on his fiction, his correspondence, and his personal life, in order to unravel whether he had some truly esoteric link to realms beyond ours, or was simply an imaginative dreamer from Providence. He may very well have been a little of both.

Above: Lovecraft’s “Elder Sign” in Various Manifestations (Pinterest).

Lovecraft’s correspondence with others in his circle of friends suggests that, while he was well-read on the subject, he was not a personal practitioner of magick.6 Much of his knowledge of the occult seems to have come from books on European witchcraft, written by people outside those witch-groups and colored by the perceptions of non-Christian religions during his time, as well as colonial American witchcraft, as described by witch hunters of Salem like Cotton Mather.6 Some of these latter sources contain alleged accounts from accused witches, although the credibility and interpretation of such accounts would necessarily be, at best, somewhat questionable.

A movement toward freer expression of religion in the 1970s has given us some insight, however, into magickal systems. We have come to see that while some of the details of actual occult practice, both modern and traditional, are often misrepresented in Lovecraft’s work, there is much that Lovecraft incorporates that is, surprisingly, close enough to give actual practitioners pause. An examination of the specific words used by Lovecraft suggests that he was not intimately aware of actual occult practices for raising demons or demonic gods, since his language in the rituals more closely resembles protective spells, which include the invocation of various names of the Judao-Christian God (or slightly altered versions of those names), such as Hel, Heloym, Emmanvel, Tetragrammaton, and Iehova, as well as names of archangels, such as Sother and Saboth, referenced in “The Horror at Red Hook” (2, 6). These names are generally used in protective sigils by practitioners of magick against entities summoned against their will for service or information. Such usage would seem counterproductive in the raising of those entities themselves.

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The King

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