"The Finest Spectral Literature of This or Any Age!"
That's how horror maestro H. P. Lovecraft praised the work of Algernon Blackwood (1869-1950). Himself one of the founders of the modern fantasy/horror story, Algernon Blackwood's John Silence, Psychic Investigator is his most famous single work.
In this collection of linked stories, John Silence, a physician who has studied the occult and metaphysical, acts as a psychic Sherlock Holmes. When people have disturbing encounters with extradimensional beings, persecuting ghosts, or ancestral curses, John Silence brings his extraordinary knowledge and powers to bear on their difficulties.
As Lovecraft wrote, John Silence, "contains some of the author's best work. The opening tale, 'A Psychical Invasion,' relates what befell a sensitive author in a house once the scene of dark deeds, and how a legion of fiends was exorcised. 'Ancient Sorceries', perhaps the finest tale in the book, gives an almost hypnotically vivid account of an old French town where once the unholy Sabbath was kept by all the people in the form of cats. In 'The Nemesis of Fire' a hideous elemental is evoked by new-spilt blood, whilst 'Secret Worship' tells of a German school where Satanism held sway, and where long afterward an evil aura remained. 'The Camp of the Dog' is a werewolf tale. Of the quality of Mr. Blackwood's genius there can be no dispute; for no one has even approached the skill, seriousness, and minute fidelity with which he records the overtones of strangeness in ordinary things and experiences, or the preternatural insight with which he builds up detail by detail the complete sensations and perceptions leading from reality into supernormal life or vision."
A must-read for any devotee of fantasy or horror.
Cover: Elspeth Fahey.