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Carnacki the Ghost-Finder, the Voice in the Night, and Other Horrors: The Best Weird Fiction & Ghost Stories of William Hope Hodgson

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One of the leading names in classic weird fiction, William Hope Hodgson remains an influential and powerful storyteller, remembered chiefly for his nautical horror stories and for his occult detective, Carnacki the Ghost-finder. Hodgson's career - cut off prematurely in World War One - was extensive and elaborate, and this book contains the cream of the crop: the Sargasso One of the leading names in classic weird fiction, William Hope Hodgson remains an influential and powerful storyteller, remembered chiefly for his nautical horror stories and for his occult detective, Carnacki the Ghost-finder. Hodgson's career - cut off prematurely in World War One - was extensive and elaborate, and this book contains the cream of the crop: the Sargasso Sea Mythos, a broad selection of his best maritime horror stories, printings of his lesser known strange tales (including The Baumoff Explosive and The Goddess of Death), five of the most striking Carnacki cases, and excerpts from two of his elaborate supernatural novels. Illustrated and annotated, these stories include episodes of fantasy, science fiction, horror, and mystery: floating stone ships, derelicts teeming with man-eating rats, ghost pirates, mutant weed men, carnivorous trees, parasitic fungi, were-sharks (you read that right), a ship with a heartbeat, a cursed room that whistles in the night, a castaway who refuses to let his hideous face be seen, freakish mutations, deadly ghost ships, bloodthirsty octopi, demonic hogs, and more. Hodgson's fiction reveals a level of anguished vulnerability that blends the cynical realism with fantastic romanticism, creating a borderland - a liminal doorway - that brings the anxieties of the every-day into contact with the fantasias of the nightmarish. The landscapes of his fiction - the weed-choked Sargasso Sea, the steaming South Pacific, Irish manor houses, derelict ghost ships - act as borderlands whereby these uncomfortable thoughts and existential pangs can enter into our world - to haunt and infect it. The illustrated, annotated stories included in this unique anthology - stories of fantasy, science fiction, horror, and mystery - are among Hodgson's best and will not fail to disturb, amuse, and inhabit your imagination. TALES INCLUDED in this ANNOTATED EDITION: The Grey Seas are Dreaming of My Death - The "Shamraken" Homeward-Bounder - Out of the Storm - From the Tideless Sea - Further News from the "Homebird" - The Thing in the Weeds - The Finding of the "Graiken" - A Tropical Horror - The Mystery of the Derelict - The Derelict - The Stone Ship - Demons of the Sea - The Haunted "Pampero" - Excerpts: The Boats of the Glenn Carrig - Excerpts: The Ghost Pirates - The Voice in the Night - The Baumoff Explosive - The Goddess of Death - The Valley of Lost Children - The Terror of the Water Tank - The Gateway of the Monster - The Horse of the Invisible - The Searcher of the End House - The Whistling Room - The Hog


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One of the leading names in classic weird fiction, William Hope Hodgson remains an influential and powerful storyteller, remembered chiefly for his nautical horror stories and for his occult detective, Carnacki the Ghost-finder. Hodgson's career - cut off prematurely in World War One - was extensive and elaborate, and this book contains the cream of the crop: the Sargasso One of the leading names in classic weird fiction, William Hope Hodgson remains an influential and powerful storyteller, remembered chiefly for his nautical horror stories and for his occult detective, Carnacki the Ghost-finder. Hodgson's career - cut off prematurely in World War One - was extensive and elaborate, and this book contains the cream of the crop: the Sargasso Sea Mythos, a broad selection of his best maritime horror stories, printings of his lesser known strange tales (including The Baumoff Explosive and The Goddess of Death), five of the most striking Carnacki cases, and excerpts from two of his elaborate supernatural novels. Illustrated and annotated, these stories include episodes of fantasy, science fiction, horror, and mystery: floating stone ships, derelicts teeming with man-eating rats, ghost pirates, mutant weed men, carnivorous trees, parasitic fungi, were-sharks (you read that right), a ship with a heartbeat, a cursed room that whistles in the night, a castaway who refuses to let his hideous face be seen, freakish mutations, deadly ghost ships, bloodthirsty octopi, demonic hogs, and more. Hodgson's fiction reveals a level of anguished vulnerability that blends the cynical realism with fantastic romanticism, creating a borderland - a liminal doorway - that brings the anxieties of the every-day into contact with the fantasias of the nightmarish. The landscapes of his fiction - the weed-choked Sargasso Sea, the steaming South Pacific, Irish manor houses, derelict ghost ships - act as borderlands whereby these uncomfortable thoughts and existential pangs can enter into our world - to haunt and infect it. The illustrated, annotated stories included in this unique anthology - stories of fantasy, science fiction, horror, and mystery - are among Hodgson's best and will not fail to disturb, amuse, and inhabit your imagination. TALES INCLUDED in this ANNOTATED EDITION: The Grey Seas are Dreaming of My Death - The "Shamraken" Homeward-Bounder - Out of the Storm - From the Tideless Sea - Further News from the "Homebird" - The Thing in the Weeds - The Finding of the "Graiken" - A Tropical Horror - The Mystery of the Derelict - The Derelict - The Stone Ship - Demons of the Sea - The Haunted "Pampero" - Excerpts: The Boats of the Glenn Carrig - Excerpts: The Ghost Pirates - The Voice in the Night - The Baumoff Explosive - The Goddess of Death - The Valley of Lost Children - The Terror of the Water Tank - The Gateway of the Monster - The Horse of the Invisible - The Searcher of the End House - The Whistling Room - The Hog

30 review for Carnacki the Ghost-Finder, the Voice in the Night, and Other Horrors: The Best Weird Fiction & Ghost Stories of William Hope Hodgson

  1. 5 out of 5

    Bill Kerwin

    Not as good as his House on the Borderlands, but enjoyable and worthwhile nonetheless. These stories improve in quality as the book progresses, beginning with the hackneyed gothic claptrap of "The Thing Invisible" and ending with stories of true cosmic terror. Carnacki himself is an interesting transitional figure, an eccentric bachelor in the Holmesian mode, who--although relying on his intellect and expertise--yet seems, at bottom, lonely and filled with self-doubt in the wake of his uncanny e Not as good as his House on the Borderlands, but enjoyable and worthwhile nonetheless. These stories improve in quality as the book progresses, beginning with the hackneyed gothic claptrap of "The Thing Invisible" and ending with stories of true cosmic terror. Carnacki himself is an interesting transitional figure, an eccentric bachelor in the Holmesian mode, who--although relying on his intellect and expertise--yet seems, at bottom, lonely and filled with self-doubt in the wake of his uncanny experiences. A professional ghost hunter who possesses his own tools--revolver, camera, elaborate electrical devices--he relies on them desperately, only half-believing in their efficacy. If the stories have a noticeable flaw, it is that Carnacki talks continually to his captive audience of dinner guests about the detailed workings of his technology and the precise gradations of color and texture produced by the alteration of the psychic atmosphere, repeating every few paragraphs the phrase "Do you understand?" Although I found this to be irritating at first, I came to realize that these narrative conventions are an expression of Carnacki's isolation and desperation. He is, after all, a 19th century style ghost hunter trying to survive and understand an increasingly chaotic 20th century world--a world whose strangeness is reflected in the best of these tales--which are very good indeed--such as "The Whistling Room" and "The Hog."

  2. 4 out of 5

    Gianfranco Mancini

    Voto totale: 3,5 Il Portale del Mostro: 4 stelle Una casa isolata. Una Stanza Grigia in cui un'intera famiglia è morta strangolata. Una porta chiusa che sbatte nel cuore della notte. La mano assassina di un fantasma. L'antologia inizia col botto con una gran bella storiella di orrore gotico. Da brividi! La Casa tra i Lauri: 3 stelle Un castello infestato nell'Irlanda dell'Ovest. Porte che si spalancano da sole. Un soffitto che gronda sangue nella notte. Ottimo l'incipit ed il twist finale, ma l'autore al Voto totale: 3,5 Il Portale del Mostro: 4 stelle Una casa isolata. Una Stanza Grigia in cui un'intera famiglia è morta strangolata. Una porta chiusa che sbatte nel cuore della notte. La mano assassina di un fantasma. L'antologia inizia col botto con una gran bella storiella di orrore gotico. Da brividi! La Casa tra i Lauri: 3 stelle Un castello infestato nell'Irlanda dell'Ovest. Porte che si spalancano da sole. Un soffitto che gronda sangue nella notte. Ottimo l'incipit ed il twist finale, ma l'autore alla fine ha lasciato un po' troppe cose inspiegate secondo me. Carino. La Camera che Fischiava: 5 stelle Un altro maniero infestato in Irlanda, il Castello di Iastrae. Un fischiettare diabolico che risuona nella notte. Ecco l'Inferno! Questa volta Carnacki, il Cacciatore di Fantasmi, rischia davvero di morire in uno dei casi di infestazione o manifestazione demoniaca più difficili che abbia mai affrontato. E la spiegazione finale sull'origine del fischio inumano,(view spoiler)[ un giullare irrispettoso a cui è stata mozzata la lingua e poi bruciato vivo nel castello, dopo aver ucciso la propria moglie per salvarla dalle grinfie del vendicativo sovrano, (hide spoiler)] mi ha fatto venire gli incubi la scorsa notte. Una delle migliori storie dell'antologia. Il Cavallo dell'Invisibile: 4 stelle Una antica maledizione di famiglia. Figlie primogenite che di generazione in generazione fanno una fine orribile poco prima del matrimonio. Un destriero infernale dagli zoccoli omicidi che galoppa nella notte. Una gran bella storia ed il doppio finale è stato geniale ed inaspettato, ma alla fine ridevo come un idiota perchè il tutto mi ricordava troppo alcuni vecchi episodi di "Scooby Doo"! Non un male, anzi, ma tensione ed atmosfera erano ormai rovinati XD Il Cercatore dell'Ultima Casa: 3 stelle e mezzo/4 stelle stiracchiate Una casa vicino al cimitero. Porte che sbattono nella notte ed odori nauseabondi che compaiono dal nulla. Una coppia di spettri che si manifestano al crescere della paura. Una avventura del giovane Carnacki, ai tempi in cui viveva con la madre ed era ancora privo della sua competenza riguardo al soprannaturale e del suo iconico "Pentacolo Elettrico", che spezza in parte la ripetitività dei racconti. Ottima e terrificante la prima parte della storia (il fantasma del bambino fa davveto paura), ma a partire dall'arrivo dei poliziotti in poi, l'effetto "Scooby Doo" si fa sentire ancora di più che nel racconto precedente... La Cosa Invisibile (Versione originale del 1912): 3 stelle Una cappella infestata da uno spettro. Un pugnale maledetto che colpisce mosso da una mano invisibile. Un caso piuttosto "tranquillo" per il nostro indagatore del soprannaturale, e a volte le cose più strane sono proprio quelle reali. Il Maiale: 4 stelle e mezzo Incubi agghiaccianti fin troppo reali. Un labirinto infernale ed un grufolare di maiali mostruosi che inseguono la loro vittima oltre il muro del sonno. Portali verso altre dimensioni. Il racconto più lungo di questa raccolta è anche uno dei più spaventosi ed angoscianti. E le mostruosità del Cerchio Esterno ed i terribili misteri delle Porte Psichiche di Hodgson hanno influenzato non poco Grandi Antichi, Dei Esterni, e tutto il ciclo letterario dei Miti di Cthulhu di Lovecraft ed epigoni vari. Lettura fondamentale per appassionati del genere come me. Lo Jarvee Stregato: 3 stelle Un antico veliero. Un'ombra che segue minacciosa la nave. Membri dell'equipaggio che muoiono in preda al terrore. Dopo tutta una lunga serie di infestazioni soprannaturali, o simulate da loschi figuri, in castelli, manieri, cappelle e magioni, l'ambientazione marinaresca di questo racconto a base di navi fantasma e maledette è quasi una boccata d'aria fresca. Purtroppo il finale mi è parso a dir poco affrettato e la stora aveva davvero bisogno di qualche pagin in più per svilupparsi comesi deve. La Scoperta: 2 stelle Un libro unico. Una seconda copia che spunta fuori all'improvviso. L'ultimo racconto del libro è decisamente quella che mi è piaciuta di meno. Carnacki ed il suo circolo di amici a cui racconta ogni caso già avevano molti punti in comune con il più famoso investigatore di Baker Street: il narratore Dogdson è un alter ego letterario di Hodgson ma anche una sorta di dr. Watson e Carnacki è una specie di Holmes acchiappafantasmi pieno di dubbi e armato di machina fotografica e congegni elettrici. Quello che l'indagatore del soprannaturale (che qui latita) chiama "un caso molto semplice" è un classico mistery a dir poco banale senza alcuno degli elementi fantastici e caratteristici presenti nelle storie precedenti: non serve aver letto sir Conan Doyle o altri autori simili, la soluzione del caso era davero alla portata di chiunque... lo averebbero risolto persino l'ispettore Lestrade o lo Sherlock Holmes pasticcione, ubriacone e donnaiolo, magistralmente interpretato da Michael Caine nel divertentissimo film "Senza Indizio". In definitiva una bella antologia se siete fan di cacciatori di fantasmi, indagatori dell'incubo e affini, e misteri stile "Scooby Doo", ma decisamente inferiore a La Casa sull'Abisso dello stesso autore. Non male ed un paio di storie sono delle vere gemme. Peccato per quella brutta copia di racconto alla Sherlock Holmes finale che stona davvero parecchio con tutti gli altri.

  3. 5 out of 5

    David

    William Hope Hodgson's stories were apparently published during the boom of detective fiction that followed the popularity of Sherlock Holmes, and Hodgson more or less follows Doyle's formula: each Carnacki story involves Carnacki going to investigate some unusual occurrence and using detective work to figure out what's going on. The difference is that Carnacki uses occult techniques as well as "scientific" instruments such as the "Electric Pentacle," and some of his cases actually turn out to b William Hope Hodgson's stories were apparently published during the boom of detective fiction that followed the popularity of Sherlock Holmes, and Hodgson more or less follows Doyle's formula: each Carnacki story involves Carnacki going to investigate some unusual occurrence and using detective work to figure out what's going on. The difference is that Carnacki uses occult techniques as well as "scientific" instruments such as the "Electric Pentacle," and some of his cases actually turn out to be supernatural in origin. Instead of a Watson, Carnacki relates his cases after the fact to four friends, including the narrator, "Dodgson," who are a passive audience for Carnacki's stories. So there is no buddy dynamic here. The stories are somewhat formulaic as well — mostly haunted houses, haunted rooms, and in one case, a haunted ship. They are interesting in that you never know until the climax whether the "ghost" or other supernatural phenomenon will turn out to be an actual haunting, or some human perpetrator acting out a Scooby Doo plot, trying to scare people off with wires and trapdoors and luminescent paint for some nefarious reason. When the case does genuinely involve supernatural entities, though, it's not just phantoms drifting around. Hodgson was possibly an inspiration for H.P. Lovecraft, and his horrors are inhuman, malevolent, and alien. Even the mere "ghosts" are pretty dark, causing not just chills but "supernatural miasmas" of fear (or "funk" as Carnacki keeps calling it, in I presume the idiom of the day). In some cases, Carnacki encounters creatures that could properly be called demons: "I saw something terrible rising up through the middle of the 'defence'. It rose with a steady movement. I saw it pale and huge through the whirling funnel of cloud - a monstrous pallid snout rising out of that unknowable abyss. It rose higher and higher. Through a thinning of the cloud I saw one small eye... a pig's eye with a sort of vile understanding shining at the back of it." This book, collecting all of Hodgson's Carnacki stories, was an interesting read given where Hodgson sits historically and literarily, between Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and H.P. Lovecraft. His prose style was florid and stilted, and while the stories are imaginative, with Carnacki's "Electric Pentacle" and colored "defenses" and "Sigsand Manuscript" and other references to Hodgson's invented arcana, and when the monsters show up they are genuinely dreadful, after a few of them you can see they're just repeating the same ideas over and over. Had Hodgson written more, perhaps he'd have eventually expanded Carnacki's world.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Simon

    Starting off strong, I was struck by the effectiveness of Hodgson's writing. He tells a good ghost story, if not as subtle and gradual a build up as M.R. James, they are more tense and frightening, the supernatural forces (indeed, when they were supernatural) more malignant. But after a while the foibles of his writing began to grate a little. For instance the tendency of Carnacki to constantly ask his listeners/reader "Do you follow?", "Can you possibly understand what I am trying to convey?", e Starting off strong, I was struck by the effectiveness of Hodgson's writing. He tells a good ghost story, if not as subtle and gradual a build up as M.R. James, they are more tense and frightening, the supernatural forces (indeed, when they were supernatural) more malignant. But after a while the foibles of his writing began to grate a little. For instance the tendency of Carnacki to constantly ask his listeners/reader "Do you follow?", "Can you possibly understand what I am trying to convey?", etc. Initially it was fun trying to guess whether there would be supernatural forces underlying the phenomenon under investigation or not but when Hodgson starts conflating the causes, when it happened that by coincidence a real haunting begins at the same time as someone started faking it, it stretches credence a little too far, particularly when that happens for the second time. And then there's the noises and apparitions that seem to be thrown in for effect in the build up of the story that are not always explained away satisfactorily at the end, often dismissed as merely an overactive imagination on the part of the protagonist. Those criticisms aside, there is still some good stories worth reading here although I would suggest not reading them all in one go, but rather just dipping into this collection every now and again. I suspect that is the best way to enjoy these stories.

  5. 4 out of 5

    J.G. Keely

    Another paranormal investigator in the tradition of Van Helsing, Dr. Hesselius, and John Silence, I was curious to see what Hodgson would do with the idea, especially after reading his House on the Borderland and finding it to be refreshingly uncanny. Unfortunately, the Carnacki stories are so flat and formulaic that they add very little to the subgenre. Every case follows the same pattern: a group of men gather at Carnacki's house and sit around for a bit before he suddenly launches into his s Another paranormal investigator in the tradition of Van Helsing, Dr. Hesselius, and John Silence, I was curious to see what Hodgson would do with the idea, especially after reading his House on the Borderland and finding it to be refreshingly uncanny. Unfortunately, the Carnacki stories are so flat and formulaic that they add very little to the subgenre. Every case follows the same pattern: a group of men gather at Carnacki's house and sit around for a bit before he suddenly launches into his story: he's called out to investigate some occurrence, he describes some incident as giving him the 'creep', he refers to a number of other cases 'which you fellows certainly remember' (but which are never, themselves, described), he piles on a lot of colloquialisms, follows this with some goofy made-up terms ('Second Sign of the Saaamaaa Ritual'), mentions someone 'lacking pluck', describes a vague feeling and insists 'we must know what he means', eventually blinds himself with a camera flash, sets up his 'electric pentacle', then explains the whole matter (barring a few mysterious details), and sends his friends out into the night. Sometimes, the cases are supernatural, while other times we get a full 'gothic explique' that tries to account for the apparently supernatural elements as mere tricks. So, there is some variation in the subject matter, but not very much, especially when compared to the John Silence tales. Worse than that is the fact that Carnacki himself is a very flat character, somewhat unflappable and matter-of-fact, but otherwise entirely unremarkable and without much sense of interior personality, despite all his friendly colloquial expressions. In Silence, for example, we get a figure who actually seems affected by the cases in which he takes part, who has an investment in the people involved, and in what those cases suggest about the reality of the world. Silence has a perspective, a sort of bias which makes him feel like an actual person caught up in a lot of strangeness. Carnacki, on the other hand, is so matter-of-fact about everything that there is very little unique about his approach. He's not a figure who must deal with the implications of the supernatural, of the long-term effects they have on a human mind, but an implacable force that solves whatever is before him. Certainly, sometimes he has a fright, but the horror in these tales is all of a very physical variety. There is always some menacing thing, some murderous force which is acting upon him, which must be fought and overcome. The force is never dangerous to the mind, or the perception of the world, only to the physical body. As such, the Carnacki stories form a prototype of the jump-scare movies which are popular today: there are always half seen things in the shadow of the corner of the room, lurking around every corner, malicious and violent and only held off by Carnacki's magic circles. I do have to say that I find the idea of his 'electric pentacle', a vacuum tube ring which protects him from supernatural forces to be terribly amusing. Again, it somewhat negates from the supernatural aspect, turning the thing into a physical scientific investigation, but its such a wacky, Ghostbusters idea--I only wish he'd been able to do more with it, that the stories had been odd enough and psychologically intriguing enough to make of the pentacle more than a mere plot object. There's also an odd continuation of the pig-based horror that Hodgson explored in House on the Borderland, which illustrates just how lucky Lovecraft was to base supernatural monsters on his intense distaste for seafood, since kosher law seems not to translate as well into the disturbing and horrific.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Sandy

    British author William Hope Hodgson's "Carnacki the Ghost-Finder" first saw the light of day in 1913. Consisting of six short stories, drawn from the pages of "The Idler" and "The New Magazine," the collection was ultimately expanded to include nine stories, these last three being discovered after Hodgson's early death, at age 40, in April 1918. In this fascinating group of tales, we meet Thomas Carnacki, a sort of occult investigator in Edwardian London. Just as Carnacki seems to be patterned o British author William Hope Hodgson's "Carnacki the Ghost-Finder" first saw the light of day in 1913. Consisting of six short stories, drawn from the pages of "The Idler" and "The New Magazine," the collection was ultimately expanded to include nine stories, these last three being discovered after Hodgson's early death, at age 40, in April 1918. In this fascinating group of tales, we meet Thomas Carnacki, a sort of occult investigator in Edwardian London. Just as Carnacki seems to be patterned on a similar fictional psychic investigator of the time, Algernon Blackwood's John Silence, a casual reading of the Carnacki stories will reveal the influence that Hodgson's Sistrand Manuscript, Outer Monstrosities and "electric pentacle" defense had on later authors such as H.P. Lovecraft (an admitted fan of this book, although he much preferred Hodgson's novels) and Dennis Wheatley. These nine tales all have a similar framing device: Carnacki calls four friends--Arkright, Taylor, Jessop (could this be the same able-bodied seaman Jessop who was the only survivor of the Mortzestus sinking in Hodgson's 1909 novel "The Ghost Pirates"?!?!) and our narrator, Dodgson--to dinner and afterwards regales them with the details of his latest case. The reader will soon realize that not all the cases are supernatural in nature, although they all seem to be so on the surface, and I suppose half the fun in reading these tales comes from trying to figure out which stories involve actual hauntings or spirit manifestations, and which are hoaxes. To make the game even tougher, some of the tales involve both sham AND actual supernatural events. This reader always gets more of a kick from the 100% unearthly, but nonetheless, every tale here is just brimming with suspense and atmosphere. (Those readers who want to stick with the 100% paranormal should go with the John Silence stories mentioned above.) In the first Carnacki tale, "The Gateway of the Monster" (which first appeared in "The Idler" in January 1910), our hero investigates a haunting near London and is compelled to seek defense within his electric pentacle (indeed, an excellent name for a rock band!) from a ghostly, murderous hand. Dennis Wheatley's similar pentacle defense, in his 1934 masterpiece "The Devil Rides Out," is clearly patterned after Carnacki's night from hell here. "The House Among the Laurels" (from "The Idler," February 1910) finds Carnacki investigating another haunted house, this one in western Ireland, the same eerie locale that figured so prominently in Hodgson's 1908 classic "The House on the Borderland." In "The Whistling Room" ("The Idler," March 1910), Carnacki is back in western Ireland, investigating the strange sounds that have been proceeding from a certain room in Iastrae Castle. This, I must say, is one of the freakiest tales of the bunch. In "The Horse of the Invisible" ("The Idler," April 1910), Carnacki encounters a very unusual spirit indeed: a ghostly horse that afflicts the first-born females of a certain well-to-do family in East Lancashire. Not exactly the kind of critter you'd want to feed sugar cubes to, to put it mildly! In "The Searcher of the End House" ("The Idler," May 1910), Carnacki tells of an investigation that he was forced to make at his own mother's home, very early in his career. Strange sounds had been heard, the ghostly image of a running child had been seen, a maggot had appeared from out of nowhere, and a horrible stench had pervaded the house. Who ya gonna call, indeed! In "The Thing Invisible" ("New Magazine," January 1912), Carnacki spends a night in a creepy old chapel that contains a mysterious dagger; a dagger that has, on its own, attacked the family butler. Even the suit of armor that our hero wears for protection in this tale is barely enough to save him from this terrible weapon. Thus run the original six Carnacki tales. The first of the posthumous stories, "The Haunted Jarvee" ("Premier Magazine," March 1929), finds Carnacki on the high seas (a milieu that Hodgson knew so well), investigating the eerie manifestations that had recently been witnessed on the sailing ship Jarvee. If only the crew of the doomed Mortzestus had had access to Carnacki's scientific equipment! Actually, this story goes a good way toward explaining the unfathomable events that transpire in "The Ghost Pirates." In "The Hog" ("Weird Tales," January 1947), Carnacki faces one of his most fearsome opponents: a soul-sucking swine creature, one of the so-called Outer Monstrosities, and his minions. Yes, these ARE very similar to the loathsome beasts that so memorably tormented the old hermit in "The House on the Borderland," and again, this tale throws some light on that earlier mysterious novel. A great story indeed, and featuring Carnacki's improvement on the electric pentacle: his multicolored vacuum tubes. The ninth and final Carnacki tale, "The Find," first appeared in the complete "Carnacki the Ghost-Finder" of 1947. The only nonsupernatural story of any description in the bunch, it tells of Carnacki's investigation into a possible antiquarian book forgery. This short tale demonstrates that our hero was not just an occult sleuth, but a pretty fine regular detective and ratiocinator as well. Taken along with the others, we have a most impressive gathering of short stories indeed. This collection, by the way, was chosen for inclusion in Jones & Newman's excellent overview volume "Horror: Another 100 Best Books," and I have no problem at all with that decision. My bet is that you'll be wishing that Hodgson's short life hadn't precluded the penning of many more of these engrossing Carnacki tales....

  7. 5 out of 5

    Shirley Revill

    I really enjoyed listening to this audiobook and loved the backing music that occasionally crept into the story. This really added to the atmosphere of this chilling tale.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Pinkerton

    Mettiamo subito in chiaro le cose, Carnacki mi piace, si inizia sempre con una bella cenetta fra amici e poi ci si accomoda in tutta tranquillità ad ascoltare un racconto avvincente (a quanto pare è quando si fa buio e arriva l’ora di andarsene che la tranquillità viene meno :P). L’unico vero difetto che ho riscontrato è il non essere discorsivo: tra il rituale di Saaamaaa, il manoscritto di Sigsand, cerchi, pentacoli, marchingegni elettrici e quant’altro con cui si arrabatta… punti in cui sono Mettiamo subito in chiaro le cose, Carnacki mi piace, si inizia sempre con una bella cenetta fra amici e poi ci si accomoda in tutta tranquillità ad ascoltare un racconto avvincente (a quanto pare è quando si fa buio e arriva l’ora di andarsene che la tranquillità viene meno :P). L’unico vero difetto che ho riscontrato è il non essere discorsivo: tra il rituale di Saaamaaa, il manoscritto di Sigsand, cerchi, pentacoli, marchingegni elettrici e quant’altro con cui si arrabatta… punti in cui sono andato sistematicamente in confusione in ogni singolo racconto e su cui l’autore si prodiga, ahimè, in modo minuzioso e reiterato ^^’ Proprio per questo quando finisco una storia dell’antologia mi sento pienamente soddisfatto, ma non ho alcuna voglia di mettermi subito a leggerne un’altra, ci vuole un ragionevole lasso di tempo d’intermezzo per potersi gustare questi apprezzabili lavori. In merito al resto nulla da eccepire, le storie presenti ci regalano dei bei brividi, nel complesso perdono alcuni punti dal lato horrorifico (ma neanche tanto) quando c’è dietro qualche manigoldo, però aumentano l’imprevedibilità sul ‘come andrà a finire’, a beneficio del mystery. Questo cacciatore di fantasmi rientra a pieno titolo nella categoria dei ‘detective dell’insolito’ che mi ha fatto tanto piacere conoscere, grazie ad un’antologia dove sono raccolte opere valide (non c’è gran discrepanza di qualità dall’una all’altra, sono bene o male tutte sullo stesso livello, e questa è un’altra cosa parecchio gradita). Peccato solo che un volume così, con diversi racconti brevi, sia sprovvisto di indice. Buffo paradosso: “Il Maiale” si può definire il racconto che mi è piaciuto meno, tanto lungo rispetto agli altri perché il nostro Carnacki non lesina certo su quelle contromosse difensive a cui accennavo prima, però è per me anche un pezzo memorabile, grazie allo stupendo avversario di turno. E non sto scherzando, Hodgson è riuscito a dargli una resa davvero magnifica! “Nel Sigsand il fenomeno era descritto più o meno così: Dio soltanto è più potente del Maiale. Se nel sonno o nell’ora del pericolo udite la voce del Maiale, arretrate. Perché il Maiale è una delle Mostruosità Esterne che nessun umano può avvicinare ne può continuare a vivere dopo averne udito il verso. Perché il Maiale aveva potere nella nostra vita primordiale e tornerà ad averlo nella vostra ultima ora. Essendo stato potente sulla Terra una volta, con ardore brama di tornarvi. E la vostra anima conoscerà un dolore atroce se non eviterete la bestia ma lascerete che si avvicini. E a tutti voi dico, se avete attirato sopra di voi questo terribile pericolo, ricordatevi della croce, perché è di quel simbolo che il Maiale ha orrore.” E ancora: “Quando i rumori cessarono, vidi qualcosa emergere dal centro della difesa. Si sollevava con un movimento lento e costante. Lo vidi, enorme e pallido, attraverso il vortice di nubi: un grugno mostruoso che risaliva dall’ignoto degli abissi… un’enorme massa pallida. Dove la coltre di nubi si assottigliava riuscii a vedere un piccolo occhio… non guarderò mai più l’occhio di un maiale senza rivivere le sensazioni che provai allora. L’occhio di un maiale e una specie di luce infernale che risplendeva dietro di esso.”

  9. 5 out of 5

    Arun Divakar

    The old masters of horror writing have always excelled in creating the atmosphere which slowly creeps upon the reader. If as a reader, I were to imagine being trapped in a haunted house this is how such an author would have written it (in lay-prose perhaps) : When I woke up in a cold sweat past two in the morning, I wasn't really sure what awakened me. The rain was still falling heavily outside and it drowned out all sounds. Well, not all of them for that was when I realized what awakened me was The old masters of horror writing have always excelled in creating the atmosphere which slowly creeps upon the reader. If as a reader, I were to imagine being trapped in a haunted house this is how such an author would have written it (in lay-prose perhaps) : When I woke up in a cold sweat past two in the morning, I wasn't really sure what awakened me. The rain was still falling heavily outside and it drowned out all sounds. Well, not all of them for that was when I realized what awakened me was an incessant rapping at my bedroom door. I tried turning on the light but to no avail, the storm might have wreaked havoc with the power lines. Where was the darned candle when you needed it ? The rapping at my door never stopped but kept on going every ten seconds or so. Why was I scared ? For the simple reason that I was sleeping in a second floor bedroom and I stayed alone in this house, the front door of which I had firmly locked before I went to bed four hours ago ! Picking up all the courage that I had and my path illuminated by stray lightning from outside the window, I found my way to the door. My hand on the door knob, I thought again : did I want to open this or not ? And then... The feeling of mounting dread, of the hair at the back of your neck slowly rising in response to the ambiance, a chill moving down your spine are all things that William Hope Hodgson is excellent in dishing out in his stories. His protagonist, Thomas Carnacki is an occult detective who specializes in haunted houses and how to get rid of the problem that plagues the owners of the said house. He is part Sherlock and part John Constantine for he uses skills of deduction and reasoning along with an innate understanding of occult magic to crack his cases. Somehow all these descriptions would fill your mind with a rough-and-tumble ghostbuster like Hugh Jackman's Van Helsing but Carnacki is no alpha-male.He is a quiet and silent and very British gentleman who would not hesitate at the slightest to run screaming from the room should he come face to face with a malevolent entity that proves too much for him. Some of the stories here feature monstrosities that are unrelenting in their pursuit for blood and violence and competent as he may be, Carnacki knows when to run and when to fight. The stories are told as post-dinner conversations between Carnacki and his friends where they try to dissect the tales for all they are worth. Of late, I have begun to like horror stories of old where the atomosphere is of more importance than the cause of the horror itself. This would mean that I would eventually have to return to the master - Lovecraft himself. Carnacki himself can close this review with this : I am not given to either believing or disblieving things 'on principle', as I have found many idiots prone to be, and what is more, some of them are not ashamed to boast of the insane fact. I view all reported 'hauntings' as unproven until I have examined into them, and I am bound to admit that ninety-nine cases in a hundred turn out to be sheer bosh and fancy. But the hundredth ! Well, if it were not for the hundredth, I should have few stories to tell you -eh ?

  10. 4 out of 5

    Felix

    When darkness fell and I encountered the frightening Casebook of Carnacki hinted at in certain passages of the Sigsand manuscript, a dreadful and intense feeling of acute boredom overcame me. It was like gazing into the abyss of repetition but a gaze effected with my "psychical" and not my "physical" eyes. Do you understand me at all? I made the seventh sign of the Saaamaaa ritual and could only hope that my electric pentacle would keep the yawning at bay, that my defences would hold - not like When darkness fell and I encountered the frightening Casebook of Carnacki hinted at in certain passages of the Sigsand manuscript, a dreadful and intense feeling of acute boredom overcame me. It was like gazing into the abyss of repetition but a gaze effected with my "psychical" and not my "physical" eyes. Do you understand me at all? I made the seventh sign of the Saaamaaa ritual and could only hope that my electric pentacle would keep the yawning at bay, that my defences would hold - not like in the revolting "Black Veil" case. I was in quite a funk I can tell you and could only wonder at the pluck of the author to write such tremendously boring and repetitive stuff. Worst of all was the swinish story of THE HOG replete with homophobic anxieties and ridiculous orgiastic grunting. Is anything of this clear to you? "Out you go", I said to the little volume at hand at ushered it into the most remote recesses of my shelves.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Lois Bujold

    I wandered into this and a few more of its ilk via recs from the afterword of The Secret Casebook of Simon Feximal, which is among other things a pastiche of the period. That had an amusing bit featuring a club, the members of which are all assorted heroes of this then-popular genre. The edition of Carnacki I read was one of the, I believe, Project Gutenberg versions distributed for free on Amazon, and was well formatted and proofread. It's done in a tales-told form, with the eponymous Carnacki y I wandered into this and a few more of its ilk via recs from the afterword of The Secret Casebook of Simon Feximal, which is among other things a pastiche of the period. That had an amusing bit featuring a club, the members of which are all assorted heroes of this then-popular genre. The edition of Carnacki I read was one of the, I believe, Project Gutenberg versions distributed for free on Amazon, and was well formatted and proofread. It's done in a tales-told form, with the eponymous Carnacki yarning about his assorted supernatural adventures to his regular dinner companions. Very much a period piece in every way, and interesting therefore. Ta, L.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Annalisa

    10-01 - GdL Agenzia investigativa Pinkerton

  13. 4 out of 5

    Jayaprakash Satyamurthy

    'Complaints continue to reach us from all parts of the country to the effect that Mr. W. HOPE HODGSON's "Carnacki" stories are producing a widespread epidemic of Nervous Prostration! So far from being able to reassure or calm our nervous readers, we are compelled to warn them that "The Whistling Room", which we publish this month, is worse than ever. Our advertising manager had to go to bed for two days after reading the advance sheets; a proof reader has sent in his resignation; and, worst of a 'Complaints continue to reach us from all parts of the country to the effect that Mr. W. HOPE HODGSON's "Carnacki" stories are producing a widespread epidemic of Nervous Prostration! So far from being able to reassure or calm our nervous readers, we are compelled to warn them that "The Whistling Room", which we publish this month, is worse than ever. Our advertising manager had to go to bed for two days after reading the advance sheets; a proof reader has sent in his resignation; and, worst of all, our smartest office boy --- But this is no place to bewail or seek for sympathy. Yet another of those stories will appear in April!' It's hard for us, accustomed as we are to the far more visceral scares of cinematic horror, to relate to the plight of the nervous readers mentioned by the editor of The Idler in this notice included with that magazine's March 1910 issue. Reading the story in question, however, might make their complaints easier to commiserate with. A premise that seems far from menacing at first - a room that whistles - is turned into a vector for some very weird and horrific images and one of the more gruesome backstories in these stories. Other highlights of the series are THE SEARCHER OF THE END HOUSE, a story inspired by Hodgson's own stay, with his mother, in a supposedly haunted house, THE HAUNTED JARVEE, a most chilling tale of horror at sea, and the mini-epic of porcine terror, THE HOG. Carnacki is a mix of detective and industrial-age shaman, cracking quite a few cases of fake hauntings - sometimes alongside very real hauntings as in THE HORSE OF THE INVISIBLE - and at least one case with no supernatural elements, THE FIND, is given a very clever solution, one that Holmes or Dupin would have been proud of. In most of the other stories, he draws on the ancient lore contained in the 'Sigsand manuscript' to construct such cyberpunkish devices to fight supernatural forces as the electric pentacle and a strange device that uses coloured lights to both draw and repel spirits. His devices, and the fiendishness of the horrors he faces were growing from story to story. Had Hodgson's career not been untimely curtailed (he died in the first world war) one senses that this series that would have grown to greater strengths. Which is not to say they're easy stories to read; Hodgson's prose is passable at best, frequently dense and hard to follow, marred with intrusive conversational turns of phrase (Carnacki is narrating these stories to a group of friends, a framing device that counts for little purpose, it seems, other than to give Carnacki anudiene to whom he can expound a bit on his supernatural theories in the last few stories). His esoteric nomenclature is risible at times ('Saaitii', for instance) and the cod-archaic quotations from the Sigsand manuscript can grate as well. Despite all this, Hodgson's imagination is truly original and macabre, and if you take the time to read these stories - as I did after an initial discomfort with Hodgson's prose - they have many dark delights to offer the horror fan. Here as a sample is some very effective imagery from THE SEARCHER OF THE END HOUSE: "From then, until two o'clock, nothing happened; but a little after two, as I found by holding my watch near to the faint glow of the closed lanterns, I had a time of quite extraordinary nervousness; and I bent towards the landlord, and whispered to him that I had a queer feeling that something was about to happen, and to be ready with his lantern; at the same time I reached out towards mine. In the very instant I made this movement, the darkness which filled the passage seemed to become suddenly of a dull violet colour; not, as if a light had been shone; but as if the natural blackness of the night had changed colour. And then, coming through this violet night, through this violet-coloured gloom, came a little naked Child, running. In an extraordinary way, the Child seemed not to be distinct from the surrounding gloom; but almost as if it were a concentration of that extraordinary atmosphere; as if that gloomy colour which had changed the night, came from the child. It seems impossible to make clear to you; but try to understand it. "The Child went past me, running, with the natural movement of the legs of a chubby human child, but in an absolute and inconceivable silence. It was a very small Child, and must have passed under the table; but I saw the Child through the table, as if it had been only a slightly darker shadow than the coloured gloom. In the same instant, I saw that a fluctuating shimmer of violet light outlined the metal of the gun-barrels and the blade of the sword-bayonet, making them seem like faint shapes of glimmering light, floating unsupported where the table-top should have shown solid.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Oscar

    W.H. Hodgson es conocido sobre todo por ser el mejor escritor de relatos de terror ambientados en el mar que ha habido. Pero en su obra también hay sitio para otro tipo de cuentos de terror. Dentro del género de lo fantástico y lo sobrenatural, existe un apartado bastante curioso, el dedicado a los investigadores de lo oculto. A todos nos vienen a la cabeza los nombres de Mulder y Scully, pero este curioso subgénero empezó mucho antes, con el Doctor Hesselius creado por el gran Sheridan Le Fanu. W.H. Hodgson es conocido sobre todo por ser el mejor escritor de relatos de terror ambientados en el mar que ha habido. Pero en su obra también hay sitio para otro tipo de cuentos de terror. Dentro del género de lo fantástico y lo sobrenatural, existe un apartado bastante curioso, el dedicado a los investigadores de lo oculto. A todos nos vienen a la cabeza los nombres de Mulder y Scully, pero este curioso subgénero empezó mucho antes, con el Doctor Hesselius creado por el gran Sheridan Le Fanu. Posteriormente, aparecieron otros nombres que ya están dentro de la historia del género, como el Van Helsing de Bram Stoker, y el John Silence de Algernon Blackwood. Y a estos nombres hay que añadir, irremediablemente, el de Thomas Carnacki. Carnacki, residente en Chelsea, es un detective de lo oculto y anormal, al que le son solicitados sus peculiares servicios por clientes en cuyas viviendas acaecen extraños sucesos. Todos los relatos tienen en común su comienzo, ya que tras alguna de sus aventuras, Carnacki manda una postal a cuatro de sus amigos invitándoles a cenar. Y tras la cena, Jessop, Arkright, Taylor y Hodgson, el narrador, asisten a la explicación por parte del investigador, pipa en mano, de su último caso. Estos casos consisten en mansiones, castillos o iglesias, donde en alguna de sus habitaciones suceden hechos terroríficos. Carnacki se sirve en su lucha contra el mal de pentáculos, antiguos libros sobre médiums y magia, cámaras fotográficas y, por si acaso, una pistola. Lo que más me ha gustado de estos cuentos ha sido cómo los plantea Hodgson, como si de misterios policíacos se tratase, utilizando perfectamente a su personaje para ir desvelándonos la solución. Es un libro que gustará más a aquellos aficionados al género detectivesco, con un toque de terror sobrenatural. Estos son los nueve relatos incluidos en esta antología, que fueron los únicos que llegó a escribir el maestro Hodgson con Carnacki como protagonista: - La Cosa Invisible (The Thing Invisible). Un castillo tiene una capilla adosada, en la que hay un refectorio con un arma que acosa a todo el que se acerca a ella, sólo de noche. - La puerta del monstruo (The Gateway of the Monster). En una casa se suceden continuos portazos, provenientes de la llamada Habitación Gris. El bueno de Carnacki deberá pasar la noche en ella para averiguar su misterio. - La casa entre los laureles (The House among the Laurels). Cuando Wentworth tomó posesión de Gannington Manor, no sabía que había adquirido una casa encantada, en la que nadie quiere trabajar. El salón sobre todo parece ocultar algo sobrenatural. - La habitación que silbaba (The Whistling Room). En el castillo de Iastrae nadie duerme tranquilo. Parece haber un fantasma en la casa, en cierta habitación, que silba y chirría toda la noche. Uno de los mejores relatos del libro. - El investigador de la última casa (The Searcher of the End House). Cuando Carnacki vivía con su madre, tuvo que enfrentarse a un misterio en su propia casa. Portazos, ruidos que parecen llamadas, y sobre todo un olor nauseabundo pondrán a prueba al investigador. - El caballo invisible (The Horse of the Invisible). Cuenta la leyenda que si en la familia Hisgins hubiera una primogénita mujer, esta sería acosado por una caballo invisible. Cada vez que se ha dado esta circunstancia, nunca ha acabado bien. Ahora de ha dado de nuevo, justo cuando la señorita Hisgins va a casarse con el oficial de marina Beaumont. Y ambos ya han sufrido el ataque del maligno caballo. Impresionante relato, de lo mejor de la antología. - El encantamiento del Jarvee (The Haunted Jarvee). El capitán Thompson requiere la ayuda de su amigo Carnacki para que le ayude con el problema que tiene con su barco, el Jarvee. Ya han muerto varios hombres y nadie quiere embarcarse. Por supuesto, tratándose de Hodgson, no podía faltar en el libro un cuento de terror en el mar. - El hallazgo (The Find). Cuando se creía que sólo existía un único ejemplar del libro 'Dumpley's Acrostics', que se encuentra en el museo Caylen, aparece un personaje diciendo que posee un segundo ejemplar, que además, tras varias pruebas, parece verdadero. Será la perspicacia de Carnacki la que deberá solucionar el misterio. - El cerdo (The Hog). El doctor Witton le remite uno de sus pacientes a Carnacki. El paciente, llamado Bains, sufre constantes pesadillas que no le dejan conciliar el sueño. En ellas, Bains sufre el acoso de gruñidos y de algo que quiere capturarlo. Posiblemente se trate del mejor cuento del libro, donde entran en juego las fuerzas Exteriores.

  15. 5 out of 5

    James

    Thoroughly enjoyable series of Sherlock Holmes-meets-H.P. Lovecraft stories, written in the last years before WW1. An entirely disposable narrator re-relates the after-dinner stories of the eponymous Carnacki, an Edwardian flâneur who goes on holiday with his mother and has invented, in ingenious cod-occult detail, such essential ghost-hunting kit as the Electric Pentacle. It is distinguished by three things. First is Carnacki’s insistence on relating the precise physiological symptoms of his own Thoroughly enjoyable series of Sherlock Holmes-meets-H.P. Lovecraft stories, written in the last years before WW1. An entirely disposable narrator re-relates the after-dinner stories of the eponymous Carnacki, an Edwardian flâneur who goes on holiday with his mother and has invented, in ingenious cod-occult detail, such essential ghost-hunting kit as the Electric Pentacle. It is distinguished by three things. First is Carnacki’s insistence on relating the precise physiological symptoms of his own fear throughout all his adventures, punctuated by insistent button-holing addresses to the reader/listener/whoever – “Can you understand?”, “Can you imagine how I felt?”, “Does it interest you?”. This is an interesting effect, but quite annoying. Second, the sheer quality of the supernatural back-story: although billed as a ghost-hunter, Carnacki is clearly working various kinds of magic, with the aid of the splendidly conceived Electric Pentacle, the highly useful Sigsand manuscript and even the Unknown Last Line of the Saaamaaa Ritual. There’s even a hint at the existence of an inscrutable Protective Force and talk of Ab-human Priests. All very satisfying. The third and best thing is to do with the monsters Carnacki strives against, which are sometimes bestial avatars of the Outer Monstrosities (horse- or pig-shaped), sometimes strange sensory distortions, and sometimes – magnificently – gangs of smugglers or other rogue humans pretending to be ghosts, in true Scooby Doo style. And you don’t know at the outset what kind of story each is going to turn out to be.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Riju Ganguly

    One of the first Occult Detectives whom I had encountered was Carnacki, the Ghost Finder. I had found the stories a tad overwritten and long-drawn, especially since the approach was rather Holmesian, which had inspired thoughts of adventures. Slowly, over a second and subsequent readings I came to realise, these stories were more into atmospheres than actual events. In these stories, its often your mind which becomes your enemy, electric pentacles and Saama rituals be ****ed. And that's how I fou One of the first Occult Detectives whom I had encountered was Carnacki, the Ghost Finder. I had found the stories a tad overwritten and long-drawn, especially since the approach was rather Holmesian, which had inspired thoughts of adventures. Slowly, over a second and subsequent readings I came to realise, these stories were more into atmospheres than actual events. In these stories, its often your mind which becomes your enemy, electric pentacles and Saama rituals be ****ed. And that's how I found the eerie beauty of these stories. My submission, don't try to rush into these stories. Pick one at a time. Keep yourself sharp, otherwise the cozy settings might induce you into sleep. Enjoy.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Charles Dee Mitchell

    Although he had his predecessors, Sherlock Holmes’ appearance in the 1880’s set the pattern for the scientific investigation of crime. It did not take long for an occult element to be added to the genre. Algernon Blackwood anthologized his John Silence stories in 1908. In 1913, William Hope Hodgson collected his tales of Carnacki, the Ghost Finder. Hodgson relates his stories in fine Edwardian style. An unnamed narrator is part of a group of gentlemen who assemble when summoned to the London home Although he had his predecessors, Sherlock Holmes’ appearance in the 1880’s set the pattern for the scientific investigation of crime. It did not take long for an occult element to be added to the genre. Algernon Blackwood anthologized his John Silence stories in 1908. In 1913, William Hope Hodgson collected his tales of Carnacki, the Ghost Finder. Hodgson relates his stories in fine Edwardian style. An unnamed narrator is part of a group of gentlemen who assemble when summoned to the London home of their friend Carnacki. After a fine dinner with excellent wine, they retire to the smoking room for cigars, port, and Carnacki’s latest adventure. He has a reputation as an investigator of supernatural phenomena. In the stories collected here, he often finds the events to be hoaxes, cover-ups of criminal activities, or the actions of a spurned suitor. But then there are those incidents of the unmistakably supernatural. “The Whistling Room” is one of the great horror stories of the early twentieth century. Other incidents involve phantom horses, floating daggers, and a very unpleasant hog. Carnacki approaches his investigations with the combined forces of modern science and occult knowledge. He uses cameras and recording devices, but also draws pentagrams and when things get really dicey he assembles the “electric pentacle.” He has also trained himself in esoteric practices. In naming these sources, Hodgson eschews the jumble of unpronounceable consonants favored by Lovecraft and company for the uncanniness of extended vowels. Carnacki is a devotee of the rituals of Saaamaaa. He is also never without a pistol. For fans of Edwardian ghost fiction, these tales are a real find. Others may find them a bit creaky. But Carnacki’s heirs live on in television programming as various as The X Files and Ghosthunters International, not to mention the ongoing Paranormal Activity franchise. This is a genre that never loses its appeal.

  18. 4 out of 5

    F.R.

    I enjoyed this a lot, and at the end have the kind of feeling I would have had if I'd got to the end of 'The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes' and discovered there were no more stories. True, some of the stories are hokey (particularly those where the hauntings are man-made, very Scooby Doo) and the character of Carnacki doesn't have much character at all. However good horror runs through these stories, and the descriptions of the supernatural incidents are as spinetingling as any out there. Recommend I enjoyed this a lot, and at the end have the kind of feeling I would have had if I'd got to the end of 'The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes' and discovered there were no more stories. True, some of the stories are hokey (particularly those where the hauntings are man-made, very Scooby Doo) and the character of Carnacki doesn't have much character at all. However good horror runs through these stories, and the descriptions of the supernatural incidents are as spinetingling as any out there. Recommended.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Jim Smith

    Not exactly notable compared to Hodgson's cosmic masterpiece The House on the Borderland or the flawed classic The Night Land, and they lack the intellectual substance of Blackwood's John Silence tales, but I find them to be a whole lot of good silly fun. I particularly like how terrified Carnacki gets when finally encountering traces of the supernatural, despite his fastidious preparation.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Karl Steel

    Read this because Eugene Thacker uses some of it to good effect in In the Dust of This Planet . I recommend several of the longer goodreads Carnacki reviews, which hit all the important points. Odd to come at this after reading Lovecraft (or, for that matter, Ligotti). Unlike Lovecraft's heroes, Carnacki seems to have no special affinity for the otherworldly. He's a scientist, not a man of culture, and doesn't feel himself to be an outsider. There's nothing gothic or romantic about him, nor about Read this because Eugene Thacker uses some of it to good effect in In the Dust of This Planet . I recommend several of the longer goodreads Carnacki reviews, which hit all the important points. Odd to come at this after reading Lovecraft (or, for that matter, Ligotti). Unlike Lovecraft's heroes, Carnacki seems to have no special affinity for the otherworldly. He's a scientist, not a man of culture, and doesn't feel himself to be an outsider. There's nothing gothic or romantic about him, nor about the Hodgson's prose, which tends towards the slangy ("funk" for fear, most notably), as if he's, well, an Edwardian bro. He and his fellows seem to eat a lot of sandwiches, sometimes for breakfast, and their drink of choice is whiskey (try to imagine any of Lovecraft's characters having whiskey and sandwiches!). The prose gets weird only when Carnacki tries to describe the ab-human or ab-normal. Strangely enough, the usual breeziness works. We might characterize the difference from Lovecraft this way: in the Carnacki stories, being normal is no protection from the otherworldly. Even dull people might get it. The weirdness might be anywhere. Except....the Carnacki stories suffer from the usual humanism of ghost stories. Here's where Lovecraft's totally inhuman monsters are an enormous improvement. If every ghost is the ghost of--or directed at--a human, moreover, if every ghost lurks in some fancy house or with some fancy family, then the stories' weirdness just doesn't go far enough. We're in a world in which certain deaths matter and most don't: not the deaths of nonhumans, and not even most human deaths. There's nothing here to shake humans out of their complacency, as they're reminded with every ghost that the same species and class divisions of their Edwardian world also order the otherworld. I'm reminded of a friend who believes she has a ghost in her apartment, and I wanted to know if it could be, say, a chicken ghost, or a trilobite: why should we, who are, I hope, not humanists, always require the ghost to be human? Some favorite bits below, some admirable, some just...silly. "Another hour passed, after this, in an absolute quietness. I had a sense of awful strain and oppression, as though I were a little spirit in the company of some invisible, brooding monster of the unseen world, who, as yet, was scarcely conscious of us." "As the door flew open, the sound beat out at us, with an effect impossible to explain to one who has not heard it--with a certain, horrible personal note in it; as if in there in the darkness you could picture the room rocking and creaking in a mad, vile glee to its own filthy piping and whistling and hooning." "In addition to wearing the necklet, I had plugged my ears loosely with garlic." "There came a sense as of dust falling continually and monotonously, and I knew that my life hung uncertain and suspended for a flash, in a brief reeling vertigo of unseeable things." "it was a true instance of Saitii manifestation, which I can best explain by likening it to a living spiritual fungus." "And, indeed, as you are all aware, I am as big a skeptic concerning the truth of ghost tales as any man you are likely to meet; only I am what I might term an unprejudiced skeptic. I am not given to either believing or disbelieving things 'on principle', as I have found many idiots prone to be, and what is more, some of them not ashamed to boast of the insane fact." "I buckled on the plate armor and found it extraordinarily uncomfortable, and over all I drew on the chain mail. I know nothing about armor [Note: You don't say?], but from what I have learned since, I must have put on parts of two suits. Anyway, I felt beastly, clamped and clumsy and unable to move my arms and legs naturally." "By ten o'clock, I had everything arranged, with the two pitchforks and the two police lanterns; also some whisky and sandwiches. Underneath the table I had several buckets of disinfectant."

  21. 5 out of 5

    Nev Murray

    You're privileged again. 2 reviews of this one. Review one: If you own a Kindle and read horror then you must get this......end of. IT IS FREE!!!!!!! Review two: Thomas Carnacki is an Edwardian ghost hunter. Each time he goes on an adventure, when he returns he calls his 4 close friends Dodgson, Arkright, Jessop and Taylor to his house for dinner and a story. Carnacki is a very forthright chap. He is very set in his ways and can come across as curt in many instances but his friends keep coming bac You're privileged again. 2 reviews of this one. Review one: If you own a Kindle and read horror then you must get this......end of. IT IS FREE!!!!!!! Review two: Thomas Carnacki is an Edwardian ghost hunter. Each time he goes on an adventure, when he returns he calls his 4 close friends Dodgson, Arkright, Jessop and Taylor to his house for dinner and a story. Carnacki is a very forthright chap. He is very set in his ways and can come across as curt in many instances but his friends keep coming back for more. The evenings follow the same pattern. Carnacki lets his guests in but doesn't speak to them initially. They settle down to dinner for about an hour then follow Carnacki to the fireside where he tells them about his latest "case". The minute his story ends he exclaims "Out you go" and they leave. Sound weird? Well trust me it's a pattern that works extremely well. There are 6 stories in this book detailing various tales from a castle that drips blood, a family with an apparent curse on the first born child if it is a daughter to the case of the ancient dagger that attacks people by some invisible force. Now I am reliably informed that Hodgson wrote 9 Carnacki stories. If you are lucky enough to find a copy with all 9 in it please let me know because I can’t seem to find a version I can get in the UK. Now I have only recently discovered William Hope Hodgson. I wish he were around today because I would be all over his Facebook page. Alas these stories were written between 1910 and 1912 and Hodgson was tragically killed in World War 1. The writing is just wonderful. The language used just adds and adds to the stories. The atmosphere that Hodgson emits in these stories is spine tingling. Genuinely full of tension and horror at every turn. You cannot help but imagine the sights, the smells. You genuinely get so wrapped up in the stories that you have to give yourself a shake and get back to the real world. That is high praise indeed. You have to keep reminding yourself when reading this that it is 100 years old and it tears strips off some of the novels I read today. I cannot go on about this book enough. Well I could but I have a bed to go to and you would be bored. I will sum it up very easily. Book brilliant. Buy it. Or get it for free if you have a Kindle. I guarantee if you do, you will love it and come back to me to say "You were right oh great Nev, this book is superb!" Absolutely 5 stars. This is where it all started.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Del de la Mare

    Loved this book, probably about 4th or 5th time I have read it. The Kindle version does not have 'The Hog' or 'The Haunted Jarvee' and 'The Find' but they are available separately. My favourite stories are 'The Horse of the Invisible','Gateway of the Monster' and 'The Thing Invisible'. I have read some criticisms of the style or nature of the writing, but I think you have to read books like this while bearing in mind that they are approximately one hundred years old. Incidentally 'The Horse of the Loved this book, probably about 4th or 5th time I have read it. The Kindle version does not have 'The Hog' or 'The Haunted Jarvee' and 'The Find' but they are available separately. My favourite stories are 'The Horse of the Invisible','Gateway of the Monster' and 'The Thing Invisible'. I have read some criticisms of the style or nature of the writing, but I think you have to read books like this while bearing in mind that they are approximately one hundred years old. Incidentally 'The Horse of the Invisible' was dramatised for television in 1971 as part of a series called 'The Rivals of Sherlock holmes' I vaguely remember watching it and intend obtaining a dvd copy at some point.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Denny

    I wish the rest of the book was as good as The Hog. As creepy as can be.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Mohammed

    Good collection of Carnacki stories, not William Hope Hodgson most compelling work but good enough written to enjoy the stories and the main character.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Cats of Ulthar

    Review soon

  26. 5 out of 5

    jzthompson

    General Impressions: I enjoyed this very much. Some stories were inevitably better than others, but overall slightly more than the sum of it's parts. Good use of atmosphere to build tension and nicely grounded in Edwardian occultism. Comparisons with Lovecraft are probably unfair on both, but the field is so crowded with squamous and eldritch fish-monsters it was interesting how the supernatural still has the power to shock when presented in less hackneyed forms. The introduction - and a lot of General Impressions: I enjoyed this very much. Some stories were inevitably better than others, but overall slightly more than the sum of it's parts. Good use of atmosphere to build tension and nicely grounded in Edwardian occultism. Comparisons with Lovecraft are probably unfair on both, but the field is so crowded with squamous and eldritch fish-monsters it was interesting how the supernatural still has the power to shock when presented in less hackneyed forms. The introduction - and a lot of the other reviews - refer to Carnacki as a cypher, but I thought this was very unfair. There is an element of 'filling in the blanks' with all pulp characterisation, but I personally found him much more convincing than Sherlock Holmes. I built a very clear picture of a curt and slightly pedantic man, probably happier tinkering with his vacuum tubes and photographic equipment than talking to people, but ultimately good hearted and caring. Indeed, far from a standard issue 'stiff upper lip' hero he's described as in the introduction, one of the really clever effects Hodgson uses to build tension is to have Carnacki frequently terrified. Because he is so stolid in the day light, his palpable fear in the face of the haunting impresses the reader. I'm sure my habit of mentally casting actors as characters in the book I'm reading is a sign of a decayed imagination... but in this case I really couldn't shake the picture of Toby Jones as the perfect Carnacki: How about it BBC? My thoughts on the Individual Stories: The Thing Invisible - 2/5 - I very much admired the clever techniques used to build up a tense atmosphere, particularly the deft move from round-the-fire cosiness of the framing device to Carnaki's trembling midnight horror. Although Carnaki is referred to as a cypher in the intro I found him an entertainingly curt and pedantic protagonist. However I felt cheated by the conclusion which felt like it needed more work. The Gateway of the Monster - 5/5. A masterclass in slowly building tension and dread. Carnaki's plausible terror in the face of a well realised supernatural threat makes him likeably human and his 'Electric Pentacle' is a brilliant gimmick. The House Among the Laurels - 4/5 - Nicely ghoulish set-up. Ending slightly rushed, but well done and would probably have been quite surprising to the contemporary audience. The Whistling Room - 4/5 The 'investigation' here was fairly perfunctory, and missed the creeping dread of earlier stories, but the final manifestation of the haunting was uncanny and genuinely unsettling The Searcher of the End House - 5/5 - A borderline incoherent mixture of Blytonesque cosiness, rustic comedy, disturbing imagery and hints of cosmic horror on a grand scale. Undeniably garbled, but in a way that only adds to the effect, like someone recounting an unusually vivid dream. The Horse of the Invisible - 3.5/5 - Probably the cleverest of the stories so far, the central idea of a (view spoiler)[faked haunting inducing a real manifestation (hide spoiler)] has real legs, and I don't think I've seen it done quite as well anywhere else, but at the same time this didn't really have the chilling atmosphere of some of the previous entries. The Haunted Jarvee - 4/5 - A good account of a subtle and naturalistic haunting, with some unusually good writing. Unintentionally amusing in parts due to Carnacki's frequent use of a 'vibrator' in his investigation... The Find - NA/5 - Under five pages and with no supernatural element, perfectly serviceable but with no real substance. A bit of an anomaly that was presumably written to pay for a weekend in Rhyll. The Hog - 5/5. As far as I know this is only the final Carnacki story because of Hodgson's premature death in WWI. However it really felt like a season finale, Carnacki is out of his depth and the haunting is utterly nightmarish. The horrible image of Carnaki's client making pig noises in his sleep, whilst the wallpaper is pushed outwards by snouts pressing against the other the other side, will linger for a while. ETA - (view spoiler)[ That 'The Hog' ends on a more or less literal deus ex machina should count against it, but instead it was probably the most impressive part of the whole thing. Carnacki is totally out of his depth, his protective devices have failed, he is close to using his revolver first on his client and then on himself and the implication is that even this might not protect their souls from being subsumed into a monstrous swine herd. Carnacki's crypto-scientific method to dealing with the supernatural that has stood him in good stead in other stories has failed, and he is only saved by the intercession of an opposing benevolent supernatural force. (hide spoiler)]

  27. 4 out of 5

    Andy

    This was a good collection of classic-era horror tales that never insult the intelligence. Typically stories with this much action in them don't achieve the horrific in my experience, but these were often creepy, unsettling, a couple generate some cosmically horrific scenes I've rarely read about elsewhere. The Gateway of the Monster - Pretty good little tale, has some moments that are creepy, all around one of the best. Carnacki is called in to investigate a haunted room with a door that slams a This was a good collection of classic-era horror tales that never insult the intelligence. Typically stories with this much action in them don't achieve the horrific in my experience, but these were often creepy, unsettling, a couple generate some cosmically horrific scenes I've rarely read about elsewhere. The Gateway of the Monster - Pretty good little tale, has some moments that are creepy, all around one of the best. Carnacki is called in to investigate a haunted room with a door that slams all night. He is skeptical at first, but when he spends the night there in a protective circle he discovers the place is haunted by a giant hand. The House Among the Laurels - Another good story, certainly has some creepy moments, but not as good as The Whistling Room or The Hog for example. Carnacki investigates an old Irish manor house which is haunted by a spirit which has killed two tramps, drips blood from the ceiling and puts out any light within it’s walls. The Whistling Room - This is one of the best, an all-around good supernatural tale. It’s got a real sense of menace about it at times, and I loved the setting. Carnacki investigates a room in a castle recently bought by an American who moved to Ireland. The Horse of the Invisible - OK story, not among the best, but in the second tier. I didn't like how everything, or almost everything supernatural was "explained away" in the end. Despite this it had a few chilling moments. Carnacki is called to investigate a ghostly horse which is menacing a girl and her finance. The Searcher of the End House - Good story, once again everything is pretty much "logically explained" at the end of this one. Still, it generates a really good atmosphere and some spine-tingly details I thought were great. Carnacki tells of the case of a ghost in his own house which rises from a well in the cellar, it slams doors and leaves a horrid stench and wet footprints behind it. The Thing Invisible - Great stuff here at times, really creepy, effective writing here describing little sounds in the dark, once again this was another story where everything is logically explained, not the best or worst in the Carnacki series. Carnacki investigates a flying dagger which attacks people in a small chapel attached to a castle. The Haunted Jarvee - Good bit of cosmic fear here, I really liked this story, it's not scary, or effectively different from most of the other Carnacki stories, but this one has a real sense of cosmic horror about it. The "screaming empty sky" part at the end really gets at something awe-inspiring. Carnacki investigates a ship which is said to be haunted by cosmic forces which attract great gales toward the ship out of nowhere, and cause sudden deaths. The Find - OK little mystery, reminds me a bit of the Poe's "Purloined Letter" perhaps, no supernatural elements involved, smart plot. Carnacki suspects foul play when a second copy of a book is found which is supposed to have only one copy in existence. The Hog - This is probably the best, most exciting and interesting of the Carnacki series. It's got a real, serious sense of evil about it. Great stuff beginning to end, creepy and memorable, has that "cosmic fear" like "The Haunted Jarvee." Carnacki is approached by a man who is plagued by dreams where he is plunged into a subterreanean hell full of swine screams, Carnacki constructs a series of protective circles to try an experiment, and almost meets his match when the swine thing emerges into the real world.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Ralph

    It's important to remember these tales of Thomas Carnaki, the "Ghost Finder," were written prior to the Great War, a conflict which WH Hodgson did not outlive,dying in 1918 at Ypres. In that light, the narrative style, that of an after-dinner story told to a group of friends is very much in keeping with the era, the same form affected by Wells for "The Time Machine" and Conrad for "The Heart of Darkness." Actually, Carnaki's friends serve as naught but props for the telling of the story, for the It's important to remember these tales of Thomas Carnaki, the "Ghost Finder," were written prior to the Great War, a conflict which WH Hodgson did not outlive,dying in 1918 at Ypres. In that light, the narrative style, that of an after-dinner story told to a group of friends is very much in keeping with the era, the same form affected by Wells for "The Time Machine" and Conrad for "The Heart of Darkness." Actually, Carnaki's friends serve as naught but props for the telling of the story, for the story is the thing. Carnaki is, as the title suggests, a "ghost finder," or, rather, he is called in when people think they have ghosts. Sometimes there is a human agency involved, and sometimes ghosts would be quite mundane compared to the horror actually revealed. All through it, Carnaki keeps an open but pragmatic mind. "I am what I might term an unprejudiced sceptic," Carnaki claims. "I am not given to either believing or disbelieving on principle. I view all reported hauntings as unproven until I have examined them, and I am bound to admit that ninety-nine in a hundred turn out to be sheer bosh and fancy. But the hundredth! Well, if it were not for the hundredth, I should have few stories to tell." And what wonderful stories they are, ranging from banging doors in the night to phantom horses to whistling rooms to phantom swine from...Outside. All are thoroughly investigated and related in a straightforward fashion to his listeners, who sit quietly and attentively, as if they were listening to a drama on the wireless. Hodgson regales us with menace and atmosphere, but not with gore. He very successfully mixes the arcane lore of earlier ages with the scientific sensibilities of the Edwardian Age. Concise and sparsely told, with little sensationalism, the stories succeed in being unnerving and at times terrifying.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Nerdish Mum

    Review to follow.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Ray

    A disappointing collection overall. The main problem is that most of the stories are longwinded and boring. Hodgson clearly has a remarkable visual imagination but his pedestrian writing (at least in this collection) fails to convey his scenes with any vividness or excitement. Then there is the "fish or fowl" problem: some of Carnacki's cases are supernatural through and through; others appear to be supernatural at first but turn out to result entirely from human agency; while still others end u A disappointing collection overall. The main problem is that most of the stories are longwinded and boring. Hodgson clearly has a remarkable visual imagination but his pedestrian writing (at least in this collection) fails to convey his scenes with any vividness or excitement. Then there is the "fish or fowl" problem: some of Carnacki's cases are supernatural through and through; others appear to be supernatural at first but turn out to result entirely from human agency; while still others end up being a weird mix of the two. This might have worked to increase the reader's suspense and uncertainty if the stories themselves were more interesting, or if the "Scooby-Doo" endings were more convincing. But unfortunately the stories with criminal endings seldom provided satisfactory (or believable) explanations for the seeming supernatural elements. One enjoyable exception in the collection was "The Find," which was a straight-up mystery story without any ghostly trappings. The clever crime and Carnacki's solution of it would have done Conan Doyle proud.

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