"The Supreme Fantasy Genius!"
That's how The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction and Fantasy hails A. Merritt, author of The Lightning Witch. Isaac Asimov simply describes him as "the most famous of fantasy writers." In this visionary writer's controversial magnum opus, a small band of explorers— including the famed Dr. Goodwin, Ruth Ventnor, her brother Martin, and the scientific adventurer Alvin Drake—finds itself face to face with a sentient, collective intelligence composed of billions of living geometric metallic forms!
Spawn of an alien race that moves among the stars, seeding their kind on likely planets, the metal being intends to replace all biological lifeforms on Earth. Between it and humanity, between it and the group of adventurers that have inadvertently stumbled into its lair, stands only Norhala, the lightning witch, a mysterious, unearthly woman of incredible beauty and power, who seems at once the metal intelligence's handmaiden, keeper, and secret enemy.
In The Lightning Witch, writes Sam Moskowitz, Merritt "pulled out all the stops," creating a rare masterpiece with "inspired cosmic passages in which the author envisions a world of metal intelligences..." Hugo Award winning SF historian Alexei Panshin writes that "the farthest reaches of Merritt's vision of mystery simultaneously scientific and spiritual are to be found in [The Lightning Witch]. With a direct testimonial to the ubiquity of mystery."
See for yourself why The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction and Fantasy says, "The othersness and mystery that Merritt expressed has seldom been conveyed in SF with such an emotional charge."
Cover art: Virgil Finlay 1940