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Something pushed out from the body there on the floor, and stretched forth a slimy, wavering tentacle... Perhaps no figure better embodies the transition from the Gothic tradition to modern horror than Arthur Machen. In the final decade of the nineteenth century, the Welsh writer produced a seminal body of tales of occult horror, spiritual and physical corruption, and mali Something pushed out from the body there on the floor, and stretched forth a slimy, wavering tentacle... Perhaps no figure better embodies the transition from the Gothic tradition to modern horror than Arthur Machen. In the final decade of the nineteenth century, the Welsh writer produced a seminal body of tales of occult horror, spiritual and physical corruption, and malignant survivals from the primeval past which horrified and scandalized late-Victorian readers. Machen's "weird fiction" has influenced generations of storytellers, from H. P. Lovecraft to Guillermo Del Toro - and it remains no less unsettling today. This new collection, which includes the complete novel The Three Impostors as well as such celebrated tales as The Great God Pan and The White People, constitutes the most comprehensive critical edition of Machen yet to appear. In addition to the core late-Victorian horror classics, a selection of lesser-known prose poems and later tales helps to present a fuller picture of the development of Machen's weird vision. The edition's introduction and notes contextualize the life and work of this foundational figure in the history of horror.


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Something pushed out from the body there on the floor, and stretched forth a slimy, wavering tentacle... Perhaps no figure better embodies the transition from the Gothic tradition to modern horror than Arthur Machen. In the final decade of the nineteenth century, the Welsh writer produced a seminal body of tales of occult horror, spiritual and physical corruption, and mali Something pushed out from the body there on the floor, and stretched forth a slimy, wavering tentacle... Perhaps no figure better embodies the transition from the Gothic tradition to modern horror than Arthur Machen. In the final decade of the nineteenth century, the Welsh writer produced a seminal body of tales of occult horror, spiritual and physical corruption, and malignant survivals from the primeval past which horrified and scandalized late-Victorian readers. Machen's "weird fiction" has influenced generations of storytellers, from H. P. Lovecraft to Guillermo Del Toro - and it remains no less unsettling today. This new collection, which includes the complete novel The Three Impostors as well as such celebrated tales as The Great God Pan and The White People, constitutes the most comprehensive critical edition of Machen yet to appear. In addition to the core late-Victorian horror classics, a selection of lesser-known prose poems and later tales helps to present a fuller picture of the development of Machen's weird vision. The edition's introduction and notes contextualize the life and work of this foundational figure in the history of horror.

30 review for The Great God Pan and Other Horror Stories

  1. 5 out of 5

    Forrest

    I had previously read two stories (novellas, really) in this volume: "The Great God Pan" and "The White People". I liked those stores and was excited to re-read them. And Machen's reputation among horror aficionados whose opinions I appreciate and respect, especially those who favor a more literary style (as I do), gave me confidence that I might enjoy the remaining stories. I seem to recall that Lovecraft lauded Machen's work, as did Stephen King. Those were good indicators from two pretty good I had previously read two stories (novellas, really) in this volume: "The Great God Pan" and "The White People". I liked those stores and was excited to re-read them. And Machen's reputation among horror aficionados whose opinions I appreciate and respect, especially those who favor a more literary style (as I do), gave me confidence that I might enjoy the remaining stories. I seem to recall that Lovecraft lauded Machen's work, as did Stephen King. Those were good indicators from two pretty good writers, as well. But as I read The Great God Pan and Other Horror Stories, an unanticipated question kept percolating up in my thoughts: When you say "Machen is a great writer," who do you mean? Yes, "Arthur Machen" is the obvious answer. But which one? Which Machen are you referring to? The Arthur Conan Doyle-like page turner of “The Red Hand” (which I wanted to keep calling "The Red Right Hand" - thank you very much, Nick Cave), the writer of “The Monstrance” with powerful echos of M.R. James, the Charles Dickensanian “The Tree of Life,” or the Dunsanian visions of “N”? Machen is all of these, but with something more, something unique – a subtlety of hand and a careful movement of plot, sweetly lead by his studied use and manipulation of Word and Phrase. I capitalize these, because in Machen’s hands, these elements, these tools, are elevated beyond the banal usage of the terms. They become something special and “new” under his pen (though when one reads his strange mutation of certain terms, one is compelled to say “of course, why did I ever think of this word/phrase in any other way? In any case, I shall never think of it in the same way again!” For instance, there is this from "The Three Imposters": ". . . I too burned with the lust of the chase, not pausing to consider that I knew not what we were to unshadow." This is the sort of turn-of-phrase that I love in Machen. And that word: "unshadow," so evocative and full of implication. Given the context of a Russian-doll series of narratives within narratives, the term is especially apropos and lends a certain gravity to the meta-narrative from within the narrative - the meta-narrative "in the shadows" beyond the reader and the explicit words on the page. With one word, Machen pushes us out into the unknown; a sort of literary practical joke aimed at the careful reader. And these stories do deserve a careful reading. They are not shocking in that Lovecraftian "the entire universe wants to eat us all, oh no, my poor sanity!" way. They are most definitely not the antinatalist murky depths of Thomas Ligotti (though there is a good deal of existentialism throughout these works). They are much more subtle. More careful and deliberate. But that does not mean they are "straightforward". Far from it! I believe that "The Great God Pan" benefits from what seems like disorganization of thought. Vagaries and jagged connection points lead the reader on a frenetic, dreadful path, allowing each individual to come to their own conclusions, their own "end plot". "The Three Imposters" is mind-blowingly complex. Wheels within wheels, all shot through with decadence and hauntings and rotting bodies and tentacles. It works not because Machen ties off all the ends in a neat little bundle (he does not), but because the readers mind takes the disparate directions and waypoints and makes its own blurred map of what might have happened in the tale. I loved "The White People," but to tell you what it was "about"? Um. No. It's essentially plotless, a labyrinthine meandering through the eyes of a young girl discovering . . . well, she can't tell you all that she's discovered. It's simply not possible. Machen does a wonderful job of using inference and redaction to tease the reader with an intentionally occulted (I use the word exactly) vision of what lies beyond, accessible, but hidden. You will exit many of these stories in a state of utter confusion, wondering what just hit your brain. But you will feel the impact of something sinister hiding in the veins of the earth or just beyond that hill ahead or in the complex motivations of the seemingly innocent. These stories are insidious! Even in stories where there is a "traditional" twist ending, there is something in the subtle way that Machen lays his tales out that allows for a "twist" ending that isn't a cheap-shot, like I find in many short stories (especially those written by less-experienced authors). "Ritual," for example, is no exception. It's microfiction, or close to it, so it relies on a twist at the end, but by the time you get there, you're like a frog that's been slowly brought to boil in horror. Your realization comes too late! And even after the twist is revealed, your brain will continue tumbling forward, making suppositions and venturing guesses as to what really happened. This is what Machen provides, then: a labyrinthine path to uncertainty and, hence, insecurity, where the only thing you are sure of is that you can't trust anything to be what it seems. There is darkness, horror, wonder, and awe, all combined, in this realization; a case study in Schopenhauer's philosophy of Aesthetics and The Sublime. It is a journey worth your while, all the way to the bitter, beautiful end.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Yórgos St.

    Still effective as the first time that I read the Great God Pan years ago. The following paragraph may well be the microcosm of the novella, or even of Machen's entire oeuvre. "Look about you, Clarke. You see the mountain, and hill following after hill, as wave on wave, you see the woods and orchards, the fields of ripe corn, and the meadows reaching to the reed-beds by the river. You see me standing here beside you, and hear my voice; but I tell you that all these things—yes, from that star that Still effective as the first time that I read the Great God Pan years ago. The following paragraph may well be the microcosm of the novella, or even of Machen's entire oeuvre. "Look about you, Clarke. You see the mountain, and hill following after hill, as wave on wave, you see the woods and orchards, the fields of ripe corn, and the meadows reaching to the reed-beds by the river. You see me standing here beside you, and hear my voice; but I tell you that all these things—yes, from that star that has just shone out in the sky to the solid ground beneath our feet—I say that all these are but dreams and shadows: the shadows that hide the real world from our eyes. There is a real world, but it is beyond this glamour and this vision, beyond these "chases in Arras, dreams in a career," beyond them all as beyond a veil. I do not know whether any human being has ever lifted that veil; but I do know, Clarke, that you and I shall see it lifted this very night from before another's eyes. You may think all this strange nonsense; it may be strange, but it is true, and the ancients knew what lifting the veil means. They called it seeing the god Pan."

  3. 4 out of 5

    Nancy Oakes

    more to come about this book, hopefully over the weekend. for now: To say I loved this book would be very much an understatement. I'm a very patient reader and used to this sort of writing style so it didn't bother me a bit; I also love that while quite a lot of plot detail here stays somewhat shrouded in mystery in the telling, the reward (a nice case of the chills caused by a creeping dread or sort of an inward, involuntary gasp) comes once the brain clicks to the "unutterable" reality of what more to come about this book, hopefully over the weekend. for now: To say I loved this book would be very much an understatement. I'm a very patient reader and used to this sort of writing style so it didn't bother me a bit; I also love that while quite a lot of plot detail here stays somewhat shrouded in mystery in the telling, the reward (a nice case of the chills caused by a creeping dread or sort of an inward, involuntary gasp) comes once the brain clicks to the "unutterable" reality of what's actually going on in these stories. Okay -- at least what I thought was going on. this single sentence from The Great God Pan pretty much sums up what you'll find at the heart of the stories in this book: "I stood here, and saw before me the unutterable, the unthinkable gulf that yawns profound between two worlds, the world of matter and the world of spirit; I saw the great empty deep stretch dim before me, and in that instant a bridge of light leapt from the earth to the unknown shore, and the abyss was spanned." more soon.

  4. 4 out of 5

    S̶e̶a̶n̶

    And I came to a hill that I never saw before. I was in a dismal thicket full of black twisted boughs that tore me as I went through them, and I cried out because I was smarting all over, and then I found that I was climbing, and I went up and up a long way, till at last the thicket stopped and I came out crying just under the top of a big bare place, where there were ugly grey stones lying all about on the grass, and here and there a little, twisted stunted tree came out from under a stone, l And I came to a hill that I never saw before. I was in a dismal thicket full of black twisted boughs that tore me as I went through them, and I cried out because I was smarting all over, and then I found that I was climbing, and I went up and up a long way, till at last the thicket stopped and I came out crying just under the top of a big bare place, where there were ugly grey stones lying all about on the grass, and here and there a little, twisted stunted tree came out from under a stone, like a snake. And I went up, right to the top, a long way. I never saw such big ugly stones before; they came out of the earth some of them, and some looked as if they had been rolled to where they were, and they went on and on as far as I could see, a long, long way. I looked out from them and saw the country, but it was strange. It was winter time, and there were black terrible woods hanging from the hills all round; it was like seeing a large room hung with black curtains, and the shape of the trees seemed quite different from any I had ever seen before. I was afraid. Then beyond the woods there were other hills round in a great ring, but I had never seen any of them; it all looked black, and everything had a voor over it. It was all so still and silent, and the sky was heavy and grey and sad, like a wicked voorish dome in Deep Dendo. I went on into the dreadful rocks. There were hundreds and hundreds of them. Some were like horrid-grinning men; I could see their faces as if they would jump at me out of the stone, and catch hold of me, and drag me with them back into the rock, so that I should always be there. And there were other rocks that were like animals, creeping horrible animals, putting out their tongues, and others were like words I could not say, and others were like dead people lying on the grass. I went on among them, though they frightened me, and my heart was full of wicked songs that they put into it; and I wanted to make faces and twist myself about in the way they did, and I went on and on a long way till at last I liked the rocks, and they didn't frighten me any more. I sang the songs I thought of; songs full of words that must not be spoken or written down. Then I made faces like the faces on the rocks, and I twisted myself about like the twisted ones, and I lay down flat on the ground like the dead ones, and I went up to one that was grinning, and put my arms round him and hugged him.

  5. 4 out of 5

    T.D. Whittle

    Beautiful writing and chilling tales that focus on atmosphere and slow-building dread.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Leah

    Weird and wonderful... This is a collection of those stories of Arthur Machen that fit into what would now be thought of as 'weird' tales. Normally when a book is titled after one story with the rest lumped under “and other”, my expectation would be that the title story would be the best of them. And indeed, I loved The Great God Pan. But I was thrilled to find that many of the other stories in this book are at least as good, and some are even better. I've discovered a new favourite horror writer Weird and wonderful... This is a collection of those stories of Arthur Machen that fit into what would now be thought of as 'weird' tales. Normally when a book is titled after one story with the rest lumped under “and other”, my expectation would be that the title story would be the best of them. And indeed, I loved The Great God Pan. But I was thrilled to find that many of the other stories in this book are at least as good, and some are even better. I've discovered a new favourite horror writer! The book is edited by Aaron Worth, Associate Professor of Rhetoric at Boston University. He provides an informative introduction, which gives a brief biography of Machen's literary life along with a discussion of his influences and themes, and of his own influence on later generations of writers. Worth also provides copious notes to explain any unfamiliar terms, or allusions within the text to other works, to mythologies, or to the preoccupations of Machen's society. All of this richly enhanced my reading experience, reminding me once again that, great though it is to be able to download so many old stories, a well-edited volume is still a major pleasure. Machen's stories are set mainly in two locations, both of which he evokes brilliantly. His native Monmouthshire, in Wales, is depicted as a place with connections to its deep past, where ancient beliefs and rituals are hidden just under the surface of civilised life. His London is a place of dark alleys and hidden evils, with a kind of degenerate race living side by side with the respectable people, and often stretching out a corrupting hand towards them. Worth tells us that Machen was sometimes considered to be connected to the Decadent movement – Oscar Wilde, Aubrey Beardsley, et al – although Machen himself disputed this. But there is a definite air of decadence with a small 'd' about the stories. Many have strong sexual undercurrents (never overtly spelled out – it's the Victorian era) and paganism is a recurring feature. There's also a frequent suggestion that the morally deficient are most likely to succumb to the forces of evil, and will often pay a horrible price for their weakness. The quality of the writing is excellent – stylistically it compares to the likes of Conan Doyle or HG Wells. There's a good deal of humour in it alongside some effective and occasionally gruesome horror and he's a great storyteller. His descriptive writing is also very good. I particularly liked how he used London pollution effectively to give a strangeness to the city – his skies are purple, grey, dark, red, and the street lamps have to fight to shed their light through the dirty air. His Wales is equally good in what feels like a deliberately contrasting way. There, the air is clear but there are hidden things behind ancient rock formations – old symbols, and sometimes new symbols placed by ancient races. The Welsh parts have a very similar feel to Lovecraft's ruins – Lovecraft acknowledged his influence – but where Lovecraft opted for ancient malign aliens, Machen's evil is all of earth, earthly. Worth reminds us that this was at a time when Victorian society was having to get used to the ideas that man had evolved from the beast and that the world was far, far more ancient than had previously been thought. Where Wells takes evolution far into the future in The Time Machine, Machen instead suggests that some of the ancient things of earth are still here, unevolved and unchanging. And that sometimes they might even live within us... The stories range in length from a couple of pages to well over a hundred. I gave every one individually either 4 or 5 stars – I think that's a first for me in any collection. Some of the very short ones are a little fragmentary, but each either tells a tale on its own or adds depth to the world Machen has created. Some are outright horror, some more an evocation of a kind of witchy paganism, some based more in reality. If, like me, you've managed to miss out on Machen up till now, I strongly recommend you make his acquaintance – a great collection. NB This book was provided for review by the publisher, Oxford World's Classics. www.fictionfanblog.wordpress.com

  7. 5 out of 5

    Perry

    A far better-curated anthology of Machen than the Penguin 'White People and Other Tales' release, consisting of basically every major Machen weird tale, along with some short oddities. I'm glad to have finally read 'N', which fits in a trifecta with 'The Great God Pan' and 'The White People' as my favorite Machen. A far better-curated anthology of Machen than the Penguin 'White People and Other Tales' release, consisting of basically every major Machen weird tale, along with some short oddities. I'm glad to have finally read 'N', which fits in a trifecta with 'The Great God Pan' and 'The White People' as my favorite Machen.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Baal Of

    Wordy, rambling, and not much in the way of horror.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Jim

    This selection of novellas and short stories by Welsh writer Arthur Machen (rhymes with Bracken) is a little different from most current horror tales. The Great God Pan and Other Horror Stories has no ghosts or haunts, though it is not devoid of terror. What Machen describes are more ancient forms of existence, such as the faeries and even my ancestors, the Finno-Ugric Turanians, whose manifestations in the present day frequently lead to madness or death. In this collection are The Great God Pan, This selection of novellas and short stories by Welsh writer Arthur Machen (rhymes with Bracken) is a little different from most current horror tales. The Great God Pan and Other Horror Stories has no ghosts or haunts, though it is not devoid of terror. What Machen describes are more ancient forms of existence, such as the faeries and even my ancestors, the Finno-Ugric Turanians, whose manifestations in the present day frequently lead to madness or death. In this collection are The Great God Pan, perhaps Machen's most famous work, and The Three Impostors, itself a set of what its author calls Milesian tales which are all interconnected. Among the short stories are such classics as "The Red Hand," "The Shining Pyramid," and "The White People." Included is an excellent introduction and detailed notes by editor Aaron Worth. I must admit that it took me a while to get used to the slow accretion of terror in Machen's stories. It requires some patience and forbearance to get on his wavelength, but it is worth the effort. My only complaint is that his male characters -- his Dysons, Phillipses, and Vaughans -- are all more or less interchangeable, and they do not develop during the telling of the tales. Machen wants you to concentrate on the contact with powerful occult forces that predate Christianity and even Greco-Roman Paganism.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Redsteve

    With a few exceptions, Machen’s stories have a common theme that there are mysterious (and often quite horrible) things in the world that are hidden from everyday life, but that only require a wrong turn into a strange neighborhood, a walk up a lonely hill, an incautious glance – or alternately reading a book or wadded-up note, taking an improperly mixed medication, or (as in the title story) submitting to a minor, if unethical, surgical procedure – to expose them to the observer, whose life wil With a few exceptions, Machen’s stories have a common theme that there are mysterious (and often quite horrible) things in the world that are hidden from everyday life, but that only require a wrong turn into a strange neighborhood, a walk up a lonely hill, an incautious glance – or alternately reading a book or wadded-up note, taking an improperly mixed medication, or (as in the title story) submitting to a minor, if unethical, surgical procedure – to expose them to the observer, whose life will never be the same again. These mysterious things may be as “simple” as secret societies or crime syndicates, or such things as mind-twisting dimensions, grotesque de-evolution, spirits and witchcraft, or ancient and primitive races (often linked in his stories with tales of the fae – although, be warned, there is little fair about these subterranean lurkers). Be advised, though, the author has snuck in a few stories where things are actually LESS mysterious than they appear. I generally liked this collection(allowing for the somewhat stilted late 19th/early 20th Century writing style), but found Machen’s apparent dislike for paragraph breaks rather annoying. Also, it seems that at one point (especially around “The Three Imposters”) he became overly enthused by the “stories within stories” dramatic device, that makes some of these tales a bit hard to follow.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Amit

    The Lost Club - Just a short horror tale to read. Good for passing your leisure time. But an OK story to read... The Great God Pan - Despite the fact that Stephen King stated this story as one of the best best unfortunately I didn't found it much potential. The story confused me. The moment I thought I got the idea of the story plot the moment I left  confused again. I had checked double by reading the summary from wiki... From wiki - "Clarke agrees, somewhat unwillingly, to bear witness to a strang The Lost Club - Just a short horror tale to read. Good for passing your leisure time. But an OK story to read... The Great God Pan - Despite the fact that Stephen King stated this story as one of the best best unfortunately I didn't found it much potential. The story confused me. The moment I thought I got the idea of the story plot the moment I left  confused again. I had checked double by reading the summary from wiki... From wiki - "Clarke agrees, somewhat unwillingly, to bear witness to a strange experiment performed by his friend, Dr. Raymond. The ultimate goal of the doctor is to open the mind of someone so that he may experience the spiritual world, an experience he notes the ancients called "seeing the great god Pan". He performs the experiment, which involves minor brain surgery, on a young woman named Mary. She awakens from the operation awed and terrified but quickly becomes "a hopeless idiot". Years later, Clarke learns of a beautiful but sinister girl named Helen Vaughan, who is reported to have caused a series of mysterious happenings in her town. She spends much of her time in the woods near her house, and takes other children on prolonged twilight rambles in the countryside that disturb the parents of the town."... After that there's more of God Pan and those sexual activity. God Pan a fallen angel and he did something to Mary. Anyway not reached my hype. But ok to read. Giving myself 3 out of 5 by rating... The Inmost Light - Through Salisbury Dysen get know of Mr. Black and Mrs. Bkack. Mrs. was dead but she was not normal human being but known as a good hearted and kind wife to Mr. Black. Dysen wanted to know the details of the cause about her death and he found out Mr. Black too was dead. There's something about that Opal linking with Mrs. Black's death... Very good short tale that was... The three impostors - It is really difficult to read Arthur Machen sometimes if you what it means. This one I have read cost a while to finish. Nonetheless to say didn't enjoy it. Dysen meet someone in the London and explore the city to hear more stories from them. Though there's some eerie incident to read but the description ruin it all. Maybe this was not just my story to read, but despite the fact his work thoroughly praised by H. P Lovercraft and Stephen King sometimes it really difficult to dig in to his work. Better luck next time for me... The Red Hand - Dyson and Phillips are after the murder of Dr. Thomas Vivian. The murder of Vivian's was a mystery and they have to solve it, that's pretty much about the story, they found some clue but couldn't solve the real reason of the murder scene and the ending was kind of mystical. Quite a read I would say... The Shining Pyramid - This one is something that you should think of. Occult investigator Dyson called out by his friend Mr. Vaughan as he couldn't find out the mystery of those indescribable symbols that appears outside of his home. Meanwhile a girl named Annie Trevor been disappeared and there's no clue about where might she gone. All this made a conclusion in the end as there's something going on with that Shining Pyramid. Fairly good horror to read... The idealist - Living in Fulham, England Symonds lived in his occult private world that no one can divined. He needs to go home and it's getting dark out there at night. While reaching his own home he needs to do something or say create something. Quite a story that somehow difficult to understand... Witchcraft - Bit of a weird story, you almost could not understand anything of it despite the fact where that lady named Mrs. Wise done something for Miss Custance in the cottage to favour her needs of something! It was a picture but the very illustration of it didn't pleased the young lady Miss Custance... The Ceremony - Find it difficult to understand. A young little girl had her dear of grey stone. Later she found another girl named Annie Dolben who happened to be performing a ceremony in honour of that stone and it continues by her joining too... Psychology - Mr. Dale with a pencil on his hand and a little scraps of paper and whatever comes in his mind he jotted that down. He observes the outside from his home, later a friend met him in his home named Mr. Jenyns and discuss about the fact of the psychology about a novelist... Midsummer - Leonard was hoping to find something that he longing for. Om the woods he waits for the thing he desired and when it finally came he knew about them instantly. Confusing read for me... The White People - Written in the late 1890s this short was really good as the early horror fiction. According to Wikipedia - The story has since been described as an important example of horror fiction, influencing generations of later writers... Two man discussing the fact of what is evil and not. With the matter a Green Book appeared which was a girl's diary. She lives with her nurse. The nurse who happened to know many stories about secret world of folklore and black magic. In that diary the girl hints many unnatural things such as "nymphs", "Dôls", "voolas," "white, green, and scarlet ceremonies", "Aklo letters", the "Xu" and "Chian" languages, "Mao games", and a game called "Troy Town" and in the it end with fact of Witchcraft matter. But the girl's fate was not a pleasant story to know. It was of course devastating for her. So in the the conversation between those two ended by discussing the topics from that Green Book. I vote it as an OK horror fiction to read from my point of view... The Bowmen - Not much to say. Based on the 1st World War an English soldier calling help before death and he gets what he wanted... The Monstrance - Like The Bowmen story this one too begin with the scenery of 1st World War and then came Karl Heinz’s diary in which he written down about his days and how strange he was feeling to himself. He saw an old Priest and he couldn't believe if he is real or not and there's something about this priest that didn't seem quite right to him... N - Three old man sitting together recounting the events of London before the past of the town. They found a book named London Walk: Meditations in the Streets of the Metropolis. And thus the story going on. There's discussion of mysterious place, also discussing the thing there's maybe exist or not. Didn't find it much horror but an OK story for me... The Tree of Life - In Machen’s 1936 tale “The Tree of Life,” Teilo Morgan had a few boyhood years of health in the Welsh hills, but he’s stricken by sudden illness and becomes an invalid and recluse.  Teilo’s father had been a rakehell before he discovered the young girl he took to himself and on whom he fathered the boy.  Years later, an elderly clubman remembers him mourning his innocent son’s plight; “’He used to talk about his sins finding him out.’” Teilo suffers mental impairment as well as ruined physical health.  At his father’s direction, the boy’s tutor “teaches” him in such a way that learning is a delight, even if riddled with error.  However, when the father dies, it turns out that the boy’s mother has no proof of marriage, and she and her son end up in a London slum.  Later, Harry Morgan, who inherits the property, tracks them down, not in time to save the mother’s life, but bringing Teilo back to Wales, and instructing the estate agent, Captain Vaughan, to keep him in the illusion that he is lord of the property and to encourage him in his fanciful notions about agricultural improvement.  Teilo loves thinking of clever innovations that will benefit everyone in the area, e.g. relating to growing pineapples, and talking his ideas over on Vaughan’s weekly visits.  Vaughan plays his role right up to Teilo’s death, conjuring vivid images of the land round about, which Teilo relishes.  (One thinks of the dog in Ray Bradbury’s “The Emissary.”)  The story ends with a strong affirmation of Vaughan and Morgan’s compassionate deception, voiced by a major who has listened to the story... CHANGE - This one I liked truly. Terrific, scary horror short fiction. Must read I say... Ritual - Another horrifying, scary and disturbing short horror from Arthur Machen...

  12. 4 out of 5

    Joseph F.

    When I saw the remake of Don’t be Afraid of the Dark, directed by Guillermo Del Toro, there was mention of Arthur Machen in the movie. It was said he wrote about fairies as frightening little creatures, much like the twisted malevolent little shits in the movie. At the time I dismissed Machen as a small player in the world of horror/weird fiction. This was ignorance on my part simply because he didn’t have the name recognition like a Poe or Lovecraft. But there are many wonderful writers out ther When I saw the remake of Don’t be Afraid of the Dark, directed by Guillermo Del Toro, there was mention of Arthur Machen in the movie. It was said he wrote about fairies as frightening little creatures, much like the twisted malevolent little shits in the movie. At the time I dismissed Machen as a small player in the world of horror/weird fiction. This was ignorance on my part simply because he didn’t have the name recognition like a Poe or Lovecraft. But there are many wonderful writers out there that unfortunately aren’t heard of much these days, and Machen is one of them. It turns out that Stephen King thinks The Great God Pan is one of the best horror stories in English. Also Lovecraft was a big fan of The White People. These are two amazing tales in this collection, with their eeriness and sense of otherworldliness. The Welsh author evokes a sense of mystery and danger with his lovely depictions of the woods and meadows of Britain. There are other wonderful stories in this collection, including The Shining Pyramid, The Three Imposters, and N. Of course there’s a few tales that are more forgetful. After finishing this book, I took a peak at the Penguin edition of Machen’s works. Although I haven’t read its stories, imagine my surprise when I noticed that the Forward was written by non other than Guillermo Del Toro. No wonder he included Machen’s ideas in his movie; he’s a fan. You might be too after reading his works.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Lorenza

    I tried to find courage in the sweet air that blew up from the sea, and in the sunlight after rain, but the mystic woods seemed to darken around me; and the vision of the river coiling between the reeds, and the silver grey of the ancient bridge, fashioned in my mind symbols of vague dread, as the mind of a child fashions terror from things harmless and familiar. The Lost Club * * * The Great God Pan * * * * The Inmost Light * * * The Three Impostors * * * * * The Red Hand * * * * The Shining Pyramid I tried to find courage in the sweet air that blew up from the sea, and in the sunlight after rain, but the mystic woods seemed to darken around me; and the vision of the river coiling between the reeds, and the silver grey of the ancient bridge, fashioned in my mind symbols of vague dread, as the mind of a child fashions terror from things harmless and familiar. The Lost Club * * * The Great God Pan * * * * The Inmost Light * * * The Three Impostors * * * * * The Red Hand * * * * The Shining Pyramid * * * * * The Turanians * * * * The Idealist * * Witchcraft * * * The Ceremony * * * * Psychology * * Midsummer * * * * The White People * * * * The Bowmen * * * The Monstrance * * * N * * The Tree of Life * * * Change * * * Ritual * * *

  14. 5 out of 5

    Callum

    I don't know why Arthur Machen isn't more well known in Britain, this book alone shows just how influential he has been on horror and fantasy in general. The influences on Lovecraft in particular are very obvious, but the stories are just as good (and Machen is definitely less problematic). As with any short story collection, it can be a bit hit and miss, but the hits are so good, it makes it worth it. Particular highlights for me were The Three Imposters, The White People, Change, and obviously I don't know why Arthur Machen isn't more well known in Britain, this book alone shows just how influential he has been on horror and fantasy in general. The influences on Lovecraft in particular are very obvious, but the stories are just as good (and Machen is definitely less problematic). As with any short story collection, it can be a bit hit and miss, but the hits are so good, it makes it worth it. Particular highlights for me were The Three Imposters, The White People, Change, and obviously The Great God Pan.

  15. 4 out of 5

    R.K. Cowles

    4 1/4 stars

  16. 5 out of 5

    Andrew Pixton

    It's easy to see why Machen is best known for his influence on H.P. Lovecraft. His own work was fine, allowing for the literary differences in time one can still enjoy the gothic London and rural Wales descriptions and his unique, folklore based horror. But hey, Dorian Gray, Jekyl and Hyde, etc were way easier to read than this. One part had a single paragraph extend through four pages, I think the longest paragraph was fourteen. Just someone rambling through different horror experiences, in a v It's easy to see why Machen is best known for his influence on H.P. Lovecraft. His own work was fine, allowing for the literary differences in time one can still enjoy the gothic London and rural Wales descriptions and his unique, folklore based horror. But hey, Dorian Gray, Jekyl and Hyde, etc were way easier to read than this. One part had a single paragraph extend through four pages, I think the longest paragraph was fourteen. Just someone rambling through different horror experiences, in a very brief smattering of various horrors like he couldn't settle on one. Some do settle, like the principal story, Great God Pan. I can see why it's his most popular (it even has a new theatrical rendition) but I'm not sure I'd say it was his best, it was incredibly anti-climactic. The idea though is ingenious, but I am looking at it in retrospect. Lovecraft's atheism is what I'm used to now but was then an adjustment on what preceded it. Machen made cosmic horror but mystical... mystical horror? Here you see Greek gods, fairies (welsh horror), neanderthal(ish) heritage, and so on. The insanity or monstrosity here is found by mystical conscious ascension. Lovecraft's wasn't mystic, you just met the demon-alien and went insane with how hideous it was. Here it's hideous but you have to develop third sight or reach into your roots to witness it. A nice alternative to the atheistic materialism of Lovecraft. You also get a great window into Victorian England and rural wales. His affiliation with Doyle's Sherlock Holmes work is clear, Machen's early stuff bore strong resemblance to it. Like a paranormal, mystic, archaeological duo of investigators. That said, his earlier stuff was his poorest writing. Virtually every tale/scene begins with two people stumbling on each other in the street and with nothing to do, no family at home, they meander through conversations on what most today would discard as the ravings/suspicions of a man in need of a better hobby. And everything is related in those conversations. Almost none of the horror is directly through a POV, but through a second or even third account. Hence the conversatorial narrative. Oh and all revelations happen through coincidence. The way he ties things together is clever, but since it happens to the same people so many times hurts the believability. He gradually leaves behind this motif in his later work. Also, there's no women except the victims or haunted perpetrators. That aside, he does better than Lovecraft's xenophobia. He's more open to rural life, having had it himself and while he does put horrors in rural Wales its not the Welsh but their lost history that is haunting them and not always in a bad way. Some of his stories are really cryptic and ambiguous, which was confusing but great in retrospect. In fact, so much is implied I wish more was described or witnessed directly. One story I've been thinking about was one of the last: Tree of Life. I've long been interested in just such a mythos and with his Qabalistic connections, I was interested in seeing what he did with it. *spoiler* So I was a little disappointed that it turned out to be a delusion (or were the people saying so just unenlightened....). But it makes me wonder if this was part of his falling out with the Golden Dawn mystics group. The implication is that it's best to let people believe a lie if it makes them happy, as the boy's belief in a real tree of life was. So was Machen saying that the Hasidic tree of life, the Sephiroth, was a lie worth letting people believe in if it made them happy? And thereby showing he didn't believe it? Or am I reading it wrong that he believes it true but everyone outside will dismiss it as such? Quotes: "Something pushed out from the body there on the floor, and stretched forth a slimy, wavering tentacle.." “I dream in fire but work in clay.” “Silence is not weakness and decency is not pride.” “There are sacraments of evil as well as of good about us, and we live and move to my belief in an unknown world, a place where there are caves and shadows and dwellers in twilight. It is possible that man may sometimes return on the track of evolution, and it is my belief that an awful lore is not yet dead.” “We both wondered whether these contradictions that one can't avoid if one begins to think of time and space may not really be proofs that the whole of life is a dream, and the moon and stars bits of nightmare.” “I knew I had looked into the eyes of a lost soul, Austin, the man's outward form remained, but all hell was within it.” “We know what happened to those who chanced to meet the Great God Pan, and those who are wise know that all symbols are symbols of something, not of nothing. It was, indeed, an exquisite symbol beneath which men long ago veiled their knowledge of the most awful, most secret forces which lie at the heart of all things; forces before which the souls of men must wither and die and blacken, as their bodies blacken under the electric current. Such forces cannot be named, cannot be spoken, cannot be imagined except under a veil and a symbol, a symbol to the most of us appearing a quaint, poetic fancy, to some a foolish tale. But you and I, at all events, have known something of the terror that may dwell in the secret place of life, manifested under human flesh; that which is without form taking to itself a form.” “There are strange things lost and forgotten in obscure corners of the newspaper.” “And there were other rocks that were like animals, creeping, horrible animals, putting out their tongues, and others were like words I could not say, and others like dead people lying on the grass. I went on among them, though they frightened me, and my heart was full of wicked song they put into it; and I wanted to make faces and twist myself about the way they did, and I went on and on a long way till at last I liked the rocks and they didn’t frighten me any more” “There is a real world, but it is beyond this glamour and this vision, beyond these 'chases in Arras, dreams in a career,' beyond them all as beyond a veil. I do not know whether any human being has ever lifted that veil; but I do know, Clarke, that you and I shall see it lifted this very night from before another's eyes. You may think this all strange nonsense; it may be strange, but it is true, and the ancients knew what lifting the veil means. They called it seeing the god Pan.” “In every grain of wheat there lies hidden the soul of a star.” “For there upon a bed of soft wool lay the most splendid jewel, a jewel such as Dyson had never dreamed of, and within it shone the blue of far skies, and the green of the sea by the shore, and the red of the ruby, and deep violet rays, and in the middle of all it seemed aflame as if a fountain of fire rose up, and fell, and rose again with sparks like stars for drops.” “Clarke, in the deep folds of dream, was conscious that the path from his father’s house had led him into an undiscovered country, and he was wondering at the strangeness of it all, when suddenly, in place of the hum and murmur of the summer, an infinite silence seemed to fall on all things, and the wood was hushed, and for a moment in time he stood face to face there with a presence, that was neither man nor beast, neither the living nor the dead, but all things mingled, the form of all things but devoid of all form. And in that moment, the sacrament of body and soul was dissolved, and a voice seemed to cry “Let us go hence,” and then the darkness of darkness beyond the stars, the darkness of everlasting.”

  17. 5 out of 5

    Margaryta

    I haven't read anything by, nor have I heard of, Arthur Machen prior to picking up this book, and Worth's introduction was especially helpful in setting up the background context. Going into the stories I hoped for something more akin to Wells, whom I am only partially familiar with but whose "Time Machine" in particular blew me away when I read it. Unfortunately, Machen proved more wordy than Wells, and much drier. It took every ounce of being to get through the stories past the titular "The Gr I haven't read anything by, nor have I heard of, Arthur Machen prior to picking up this book, and Worth's introduction was especially helpful in setting up the background context. Going into the stories I hoped for something more akin to Wells, whom I am only partially familiar with but whose "Time Machine" in particular blew me away when I read it. Unfortunately, Machen proved more wordy than Wells, and much drier. It took every ounce of being to get through the stories past the titular "The Great God Pan", which was every bit as fascinating as the introduction made it out to be. However, I found myself agreeing with Machen's contemporaries and critics in that everything else simply did not live up to the tightly executed and perfectly ominous "Pan". "The Three Imposters" was the point at which my interest waned and I couldn't keep up with the details and the exposition. I can see why Machen's stories have been influential for many creative individuals, but either they have more patience than I with such heavy-handed prose, or Machen's writing style is simply not for me. It was nice to see where speculative horror originated from, and to see the original "unspoken horror", which I think is one of the most interesting tropes in fiction because it takes so much talent to do it well. But I felt quite sated after the titular short story, and only skimmed a few of the ones after it before finally giving up. Maybe at another time, or in different circumstances, but Machen proved to be just a bit too much this time around.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Cooper Renner

    More “weird” than “horror”, dignified and discreet in tone. Imaginative and intelligent.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Patrick Green

    The subject of mysticism and folklore are not subjects that I am particularly crazy about. Unfortunately for me, this short story collection is composed of horror stories by the influential Arthur Machen, Victorian writer and mystic buffoon. It was his influence on the twentieth century writer, H.P. Lovecraft, that attracted my attention to his fiction, and I may have made a slight error when I believed that he would be just as good as Lovecraft. I was wrong. This review will be primarily about The subject of mysticism and folklore are not subjects that I am particularly crazy about. Unfortunately for me, this short story collection is composed of horror stories by the influential Arthur Machen, Victorian writer and mystic buffoon. It was his influence on the twentieth century writer, H.P. Lovecraft, that attracted my attention to his fiction, and I may have made a slight error when I believed that he would be just as good as Lovecraft. I was wrong. This review will be primarily about reviewing the scholarly quality of this edition and the selected works. Largely, the stories included in this book are not that great. By today's standards, the "horror" of these stories are no longer terrifying, primarily because they rely heavily on inference and Gaelic folklore. This means an abundance of fairies, little people, satyrs, and platonic worlds underneath ours. This is very close to what Lovecraft would eventually write, but it is too terrestrial. The use of mysticism is annoying for most of these stories, and I think Machen uses it sparingly in most of his stories when he should have used it profusely. The collection here is pretty mediocre. With the exception of "The Shining Pyramid" and "The White People," most of these stories are forgettable or memorable but highly flawed. At least half of these stories are not really horror either, so the title of this collection is a bit misleading. A third of these stories are more reflective exercises in philosophy and Machen's irritating admiration for mysticism. Admittedly, there are huge chunks of this collection that I was pushing through, and that is never a good thing. Despite the disappointing collection, this edition is a beauty to read for scholarly reasons. This is Oxford Press, so the footnotes, introduction, and organization are superb. If you want to read Machen solely for educational purposes (like myself initially), then you couldn't choose a better starting point. Machen would be honored by the effort put into making this edition function as a work of scholasticism and appreciation of his works. I'm afraid I cannot do the same, but do not let me dissuade the curious reader. There is plenty of weird fiction to be had here, and you may come to understand why Lovecraft adored this writer as he did.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Marianne

    4.5 stars! If you are a fan of Lovecraft then I definitely would recommend this collection! It is fascinating to read a body of work that not only has inspired great literary giants like Lovecraft but to also be unnerved by such work as well. While I may be presumptuous in saying this, Machen's stories can be very much considered to be the progenitor of "weird fiction", which Lovecraft popularized and expanded on. These stories take on themes such as "the great fathomless unknown" and "the prime 4.5 stars! If you are a fan of Lovecraft then I definitely would recommend this collection! It is fascinating to read a body of work that not only has inspired great literary giants like Lovecraft but to also be unnerved by such work as well. While I may be presumptuous in saying this, Machen's stories can be very much considered to be the progenitor of "weird fiction", which Lovecraft popularized and expanded on. These stories take on themes such as "the great fathomless unknown" and "the primeval past" very effectively. I was even surprised to see a bit of body horror included as well. What some people might consider to be a detractor, but which I appreciated, was with how much Machen at times would leave shrouded in mystery. The horror of a certain story, rather than be an explicitly explained entity, is what the reader speculates with the information that is given. The author leaves enough unsettling and subtle clues to leave one wondering what exactly happened, allowing the mind to create the disturbing "what" or "why". It is amazing looking back at all the stories to see the amount of creativity and imagination to craft such darkly entrancing stories. I am not surprised at all that late Victorians were scandalized when this came out. Its certainly bold for their standards considering the dark subject matter, unnerving descriptions, and scandalous implications. The prose, while drawn out a bit, is incredibly lush and essentially in setting up the tone of the stories. This collection is not for everyone. But if you are interested in "weird fiction" such as the likes of Lovecraft, you certainly can't go wrong with Machen. Favorite Stories The Great God Pan The Inmost Light The Three Imposters The Ceremony The White People

  21. 5 out of 5

    Zeke Gonzalez

    After almost two full months of reading The Great God Pan and Other Horror Stories, a collection of Arthur Machen’s novellas & short stories, I can now grasp how Machen unknowingly guided the evolution of horror fiction from its gothic roots to modern conventions. Due in great part to the brilliant Introduction and assembly of this book by Aaron Worth, the reader can see and feel both the transitions and through-lines of Machen’s work as it moves. First from the decadent to the gothic horror, fo After almost two full months of reading The Great God Pan and Other Horror Stories, a collection of Arthur Machen’s novellas & short stories, I can now grasp how Machen unknowingly guided the evolution of horror fiction from its gothic roots to modern conventions. Due in great part to the brilliant Introduction and assembly of this book by Aaron Worth, the reader can see and feel both the transitions and through-lines of Machen’s work as it moves. First from the decadent to the gothic horror, followed by a wave of horror fiction with more modern tropes and conventions, some of which even verge on a uniquely Celtic brand of cosmic horror. Many of Machen’s short stories felt understated to me, as an avid consumer of more explicit scary stories, but Machen has an unparalleled ability to conjure the labyrinthe & urban environment of London in contrast with the wild and sylvan beauty of Monmouthshire and the English countryside. Overall, I would say that my enjoyment of the stories themselves were highly varied. However, I’m really glad I’ve read this collection for the perspective it has given me on the metamorphosis through the years of not only Machen’s work, but of horror fiction as a genre. I highly recommend this volume to lovers of gothic fiction, consumers of cosmic horror, and those who want to gain perspective on the history of literature and the horror genre. In particular I enjoyed: The Great God Pan, The Inmost Light, The Three Imposters, The Shining Pyramid, The Turanians, The Ceremony, Midsummer, The White People, The Monstrance, and Change.

  22. 5 out of 5

    JLJ

    " Clarke, in the deep folds of dream, was conscious that the path from his father's house had led him into an undiscovered country, and he was wondering at the strangeness of it all, when suddenly, in place of the hum and murmur of the summer, an infinite silence seemed to fall on all things, and the wood was hushed, and for a moment of time he stood face to face there with a presence, that was neither man nor beast, neither the living nor the dead, but all things mingled, the form of all things " Clarke, in the deep folds of dream, was conscious that the path from his father's house had led him into an undiscovered country, and he was wondering at the strangeness of it all, when suddenly, in place of the hum and murmur of the summer, an infinite silence seemed to fall on all things, and the wood was hushed, and for a moment of time he stood face to face there with a presence, that was neither man nor beast, neither the living nor the dead, but all things mingled, the form of all things but devoid of all form. " Stand-outs from this short story collection are Machen's most well known tales, The Great God Pan, The Three Impostors and The White People, but many of his other shorter stories (especially The Lost Club, The Inmost Light, The Shining Pyramid, Witchcraft and Ritual) are also uncanny, sinister and definitely worth the read. Glad I read this collection from an author who has been cited as an influence by many modern masters of horror and after reading it, I definitely see how his understated writing and wonder at the primal forces of nature impacted some of my favourite works.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Dan

    “There are sacraments of evil as well as good about us, and we live and move to my belief in an unknown world” The Great God Pan and Other Horror Stories Is the relatively new omnibus of Machen short fiction published in hardback by Oxford World Class. Machen was a Welsh occult writer of horror stories from the late Victorian ish period. Beloved at the time by Crowley and hailed by more modern greats like King and Campbell I have wanted to get around to reading some of Machen’s fiction for a whil “There are sacraments of evil as well as good about us, and we live and move to my belief in an unknown world” The Great God Pan and Other Horror Stories Is the relatively new omnibus of Machen short fiction published in hardback by Oxford World Class. Machen was a Welsh occult writer of horror stories from the late Victorian ish period. Beloved at the time by Crowley and hailed by more modern greats like King and Campbell I have wanted to get around to reading some of Machen’s fiction for a while. I was definitely not disappointed as some of these tales are mesmerising and provide an unparalleled sense of dread for the reader. As usual with my reviews I’ve rated them out of 10. The Lost Club (8/10) The Great God Pan (9/10) The Inmost Light (8/10) The Three Imposters (7/10) The Red Hand (8/10) The Shining Pyramid (6/10) The Turinians (6/10) The Idealist (7/10) Witchcraft (6/10) The Ceremony (7/10) Psychology (5/10) Midsummer (4/10) The White People (8/10) The Bowman (4/10) The Monstrance (6/10) N (5/10) The Tree of Life (4/10) Change (8/10) Ritual (7/10)

  24. 5 out of 5

    Kurt Fox

    I did not finish. A real yawner. Not worth the time. While I respect that this was a forefather of the horror genre, and bridged the gap between Poe and Lovecraft and the early masters of the genre, I could not get engaged in the stories. A lot of words, dialogue, but nothing was said. Most of them seemed plotless, with only a hint of a vagueness of something ever-so-slightly scary / morbid or terrible. I do not think these stories would scare a third grader. Not even the so-called great story of I did not finish. A real yawner. Not worth the time. While I respect that this was a forefather of the horror genre, and bridged the gap between Poe and Lovecraft and the early masters of the genre, I could not get engaged in the stories. A lot of words, dialogue, but nothing was said. Most of them seemed plotless, with only a hint of a vagueness of something ever-so-slightly scary / morbid or terrible. I do not think these stories would scare a third grader. Not even the so-called great story of The Great God Pan. In addition, the writing style was terrible, with paragraphs going on for pages and pages. I also did not like have the footnotes collected in the back of the book; they should have been at the "foot" (hence the label 'footnote'). There are thousands of books and stories. Billions of words, find something else to read.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Daniel Harrison

    I finally had the pleasure of reading this book in its entirety, and my God, what a read! The stories contained herein are of Machen's most credible works: 'The Great God Pan,' 'The Three Importers,' and, of course, 'The White People.' The tales collected in this book cannot be wholly described as horror in its most literal sense, but more, as many would agree, they fall more into the category of weird fiction; a genre that Machen himself helped to pioneer, and that was refined later by such aut I finally had the pleasure of reading this book in its entirety, and my God, what a read! The stories contained herein are of Machen's most credible works: 'The Great God Pan,' 'The Three Importers,' and, of course, 'The White People.' The tales collected in this book cannot be wholly described as horror in its most literal sense, but more, as many would agree, they fall more into the category of weird fiction; a genre that Machen himself helped to pioneer, and that was refined later by such authors as H. P. Lovecraft and Algernon Blackwood. Machen intricately weaves vivid narratives of suspense and despair, with careful spatterings of the macabre and the occult. Even to this day Arthur's works are revered as the quintessential stories in the Strange Fiction genre, which inspired authors even generations after, and still continue to do so. And this book demonstrates the literary ability of Machen at his prime.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Mark Redman

    Arthur Machen’s The Great God Pan and Other Horror stories, is a great selection of Machen’s work. Included in this collection is the complete novel The Three Imposters and The Great God Pan. Machen is I think a required taste. Much like M R James, all the stories are set in the late Victorian period. Machen brilliantly evokes his native Wales. Machen’s London every bit as evocative, it's a place of dark alleys and hidden evils, with a kind of degenerate race living side by side with the respect Arthur Machen’s The Great God Pan and Other Horror stories, is a great selection of Machen’s work. Included in this collection is the complete novel The Three Imposters and The Great God Pan. Machen is I think a required taste. Much like M R James, all the stories are set in the late Victorian period. Machen brilliantly evokes his native Wales. Machen’s London every bit as evocative, it's a place of dark alleys and hidden evils, with a kind of degenerate race living side by side with the respectable people, and often stretching out a corrupting hand towards them. The quality of the writing is excellent and the stories range from 5 to 30 pages, easy to read over a couple of reading sessions.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Crayshack

    From an academic standpoint, this was an interesting look into the state of horror literature at the time. At moments, it gives you a glimpse of just how much society has changed as well as some more subtle stylistic choices that are not common anymore. At times, I can certainly see why later authors would draw inspiration from it (I especially enjoyed "The White Powder"). However, on the whole it has not aged especially well. I would only recommend it to someone who is trying to delve deep into From an academic standpoint, this was an interesting look into the state of horror literature at the time. At moments, it gives you a glimpse of just how much society has changed as well as some more subtle stylistic choices that are not common anymore. At times, I can certainly see why later authors would draw inspiration from it (I especially enjoyed "The White Powder"). However, on the whole it has not aged especially well. I would only recommend it to someone who is trying to delve deep into Horror as a genre and wants a better understanding of how the genre developed. The more casual reader will likely feel underwhelmed.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Cwl

    These stories definitely don't benefit from being collected together, since you can see a lot of the same tropes and situations recycled from tale to tale (but you could say the same of almost any genre writer). Even so, the stronger stuff here (and, yeah, "Great God Pan" is king-size) still hits hard. You can easily see how Machen influenced Lovecraft in moving horror away from "towers full of ghosts" into something more modern and unsettling. I love the idea that there's another, more real wor These stories definitely don't benefit from being collected together, since you can see a lot of the same tropes and situations recycled from tale to tale (but you could say the same of almost any genre writer). Even so, the stronger stuff here (and, yeah, "Great God Pan" is king-size) still hits hard. You can easily see how Machen influenced Lovecraft in moving horror away from "towers full of ghosts" into something more modern and unsettling. I love the idea that there's another, more real world that's full of chaos just waiting to be unveiled. And that you can get drawn into it by picking up the wrong scrap of paper or sliver of wood. The fox was right: Chaos reigns!

  29. 5 out of 5

    Justin

    This was a great collection of Machen stories, one of the progenitors of weird fiction, but whose tales reminded me more of Conan Doyle than Lovecraft. More of a slow burn eeriness than outright horror, some of these were really good. Machen really plays up the stories within stories trope, though sometimes you get lost in the sea of ‘academic gentlemen’ characters that come and go, and are pretty interchangeable in aspect. I enjoyed the tales that centered on investigations of unexplained happe This was a great collection of Machen stories, one of the progenitors of weird fiction, but whose tales reminded me more of Conan Doyle than Lovecraft. More of a slow burn eeriness than outright horror, some of these were really good. Machen really plays up the stories within stories trope, though sometimes you get lost in the sea of ‘academic gentlemen’ characters that come and go, and are pretty interchangeable in aspect. I enjoyed the tales that centered on investigations of unexplained happenings, in particular ‘The three imposters’, ‘The inmost light’, and ‘N’.

  30. 4 out of 5

    The rockabilly werewolf from Mars

    Some very neat stories, but my antipathy towards metaphysics prevented me from enjoying some of them (it's not a hard and fast rule, but I find that mixing horror and metaphysics - much like mixing horror and politics - often leads to self-indulgent, virtually unreadable works. Ironically though, my tastes in science fiction lean towards the metaphysical end of the field, so I can't say that metaphysical horror is impossible, just risky). Still, the more horrific ones (Great God Pan, Shining Pyr Some very neat stories, but my antipathy towards metaphysics prevented me from enjoying some of them (it's not a hard and fast rule, but I find that mixing horror and metaphysics - much like mixing horror and politics - often leads to self-indulgent, virtually unreadable works. Ironically though, my tastes in science fiction lean towards the metaphysical end of the field, so I can't say that metaphysical horror is impossible, just risky). Still, the more horrific ones (Great God Pan, Shining Pyramid, white people, The Red Hand) are excellent examples of early folk horror (I still prefer M. R. James for this, however) and make up for the duller stories. Surprisingly, I found the vignettes towards the middle to be actually pretty creepy, which was more than I expected, given my problems with Blackwood's "tales of awe" which I imagined they would be similar to (I have a somewhat more limited emotional repertoire than most people, and awe is one of the absent emotions). Overall, probably a 3.5.

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