Welcome to The Shivering Circle

Howard David Ingham

Tabletop role-playing games have been, much like folk horror, undergoing something of a renaissance in the last few years – Dungeons and Dragons, the grandfather of them all, sold more copies in 2017 than ever before – and that’s spilled over into all sorts of niche games, which address all sorts of genres. Games like Fiasco and Apocalypse World and its offshoots (which include Monsterhearts, and Dungeon World) have huge followings now, driven by vibrant online communities. But with this exciting growth in the scop of RPGs, I never really felt anyone had yet made a satisfactory folk horror game. I’ve been designing RPGs professionally for over a decade now and I’ve had work appear in about 50 RPG books for various published. A couple of years ago, I created Chariot, a complex and very personal game set in an occultist’s Atlantis, with a system driven by Tarot cards. I learnt a lot from that game, and with my folk horror obsession in full swing, I recently started to think hard about what a folk-horror RPG would look like.

So I wrote The Shivering Circle.

I wanted to create a game with a sort of home-made feeling to it, where you play ordinary people with ordinary desires and fears, but which also had a sense of grim inevitability (after all, like poor Neil Howie, or Jay the Hitman, it was you they wanted all along). In The Shivering Circle, named for a stone monument that has the peculiar effect of making you feel very cold if you’re standing in the middle of it, we briefly visit the Hoddesham Down and the nearby communities of Hoddesford and Hoddeston. Here, the (illegal) local hunt meet finds other animals to pursue, a shaggy, shadowy figure whispers terrible ideas to the downtrodden kids on the local estate, a craggy-faced rural austringer has lived in the same shed for 200 years, and you can visit the Charity Shop of the Damned. I wanted to sketch a place you could visit, that felt real, and to bring out the way in which folk horror juxtaposes the prosaic and the uncanny, and perhaps attempt to infuse it with the cynical humour of Nigel Kneale, Ben Wheatley and The League of Gentlemen. The Hoddesham Down has its share of ghosts, but then everywhere in Britain does – we live on an island where there are no untrodden places, only abandoned ones.These ghosts are as commonplace as the cup of tea on the table by the armchair where sits the corpse.

In The Shivering Circle, you’ll find a filmography, with many of the usual suspects on it, and a section of the text – the meat of the rules text – licensed under a Creative Common Attribution Licence, meaning that anyone who wants to publish their own, compatible game using the same rules, they’re welcome to. I did that because I’d love to see other writers in the community produce games set in other folk horror settings – perhaps in American or Australian, or European, or Asian settings.

The Shivering Circle is available in digital format (and soon in print) at drivethrurpg.com/product/237130/The-Shivering-Circle

Howard Ingham blogs regularly at Room207Press.com


`Unburied’ – Folk Horror takes centre stage.

From the creators of BADD : Bothered About Dungeons & Dragons comes their new project, UNBURIED – in part inspired by the first FHR event `Otherworldy’ held at the British Museum in 2016.

In 1978, HTV produced a six-part children’s Folk Horror serial called ‘Unburied’. The tapes are now missing, presumed destroyed. In the subsequent decades, its existence has become the stuff of myth. But as its 40th anniversary approaches, it’s time to dig up what little information we have on this enigmatic footnote in television history

Join Folk Horror enthusiast, Carrie Marx, as she conducts a personal investigation into the cracks in our collective memory. Beginning with a study of British television classics such as ‘Children of the Stones’, ‘The Owl Service’, and ‘Doctor Who’, Marx leaves no stone unturned as she unearths a terrifying mystery, buried in our cultural past.

Carrie’s fellow Hermetic Arts partner Chris Lince found time in their busy preparation and rehearsal schedule to speak to FHR – “UNBURIED is a mystery we’ve been delving into for the past year, and it’s taken us further back, and deeper down, than we would have ever expected. There’s lots to enjoy for fans of weird 1970s TV, but also for those interested in the hauntological and how the ghosts of the past impact on our future.”

When we questioned Chris about their approach to this production his reply will no doubt sound like a folk horror revivalist idea of heaven – but I imagine the fact that a self-written, acted and produced piece of theatre is the desired end result will have added many stresses and worries to this otherwise wonderful sounding use of one’s time….

“We were already fans of a lot of Folk Horror films (and I had watched all of Doctor Who, apart from those elusive missing 97 episodes…) but it was only since attending the British Museum Folk Horror Revival event in 2016 that we started specifically delving into the television of that era. We adore all of Nigel Kneale’s work, and spent a good chunk of Christmas holed up watching MR James adaptations.
In terms of research, Richard Molesworth’s book “Wiped”, Stephen Brotherstone and Dave Lawrence’s “Scarred For Life”, “The Edge Is Where The Centre Is” edited by SS Sandhu and, of course, Adam Scovell’s “Folk Horror” and “Field Studies” edited by Andy Paciorek and Katherine Beem, all proved invaluable, as well as blog posts by Howard Ingham, Phil Sandifer, and Jack Graham….. and from watching a lot of 1970s TV. We made a ‘Children of the Stones’ pilgrimage to Avebury last year, and spent a lot of time discussing how best to translate the ideas of Folk Horror into a live show. Film and TV benefits so much from being shot in genuinely ancient landscapes, so to create a stage show we’ve tried to approach the themes and concerns of Folk Horror from a slightly different angle…”

The Show runs from 7th – 11th March at Waterloo East Theatre as part of the VAULT Festival. Tickets are available via the booking link (vaultfestival.com/whats-on/unburied)

HERMETIC ARTS is a multidisciplinary producing partnership, creating genre work in theatre, film, podcasting, and animation. It is 50% Chris Lincé and 50% Carrie Marx. Specialising in the Dark Arts, Horror, Cryptozoology, Mischief, Science Fiction, and Odd Stuff, their previous show, BADD, (a theatrical exploration into the 1980s US Satanic Panic) premiered at the 2017 VAULT Festival, before transferring to the Brighton Fringe, and a sell-out run at the London Horror Festival.

To keep up with what Chris and Carrie are doing follow them (@hermetic_arts) on Twitter. If you’re interested in knowing more, or getting involved, contact them at info@hermetic-arts.co.uk


THE TRIANGLE OF ART: This symbol represents the protected space outside the magic circle, into which spirits are compelled to appear in Solomonic ritual magic. Its function is to concentrate the spirit being invoked into one space so that it can be seen visibly. The purpose of the triangle is to keep the manifested entity contained.

HERMETIC ARTS is committed to protecting its audience from any entities that may be manifested.

We will hand over again to Chris Lince for the final word –

“There are a lot of similarities between the creation of artistic work and the ritual behaviours of religions and mystical practices. Good theatre, like a good séance, brings people together to explore the past and dream of the future.”


Book review: Some Dark Holler by Luke Bauserman

Ephraim Cutler is a 16 year boy, living in the backwoods of Appalachia in the aftermath of the American Civil War. His mother hasn’t been right since his father was killed in the war, killed by a Union bullet. She blackmails him into taking revenge by killing an innocent Yankee, so Ephraim, forced to choose between killing an innocent man or the death of his mother, commits murder. To try and redeem himself, he flees into the forest, but unknown to him, there’s more powerful and sinister forces than the local townsfolk after him, and soon he has a hellhound on his tail.

Some Dark Holler is richly evocative of it’s setting, drawing heavily on Appalachian folklore. I found this to be one of the most interesting aspects of the book, seeing how traditional European beliefs had changed when transplanted to America; the hellhound is a real dog reanimated by a black magic ritual rather than the spectral hound you may be more familiar with, there’s also a granny doctor, an old woman wise in the ways of healing, similar to the wise women of old. It certainly made me want to find out more about the folk tales the author drew on. Luckily, he’s produced a book on this very subject, which is available free from his website, which I’m looking forward to reading.

The plot itself moves along at a fair old gallop, with a fair few twists and turns. Although it’s the first book in a series, it’s satisfying as a stand alone book. I’ll certainly be picking up the sequel when it comes out this year.

More info at www.lukebauserman.com, where as well as his previously mentioned ebook, the author also blogs about local folklore, so well worth checking out.

Review by Scott Lyall

When Will The Wolves Howl ?” / ” Kiedy Wilki Zawyja ?” by Mzylkypop

This is an album which throbs, pulsates and yes, howls, with imaginative intensity.

When Will The Wolves Howl? provides the soundtrack of a chilling imagined future. England is surrounded by the Republics of Scotland and Wales. Albion is now ruled by a far right government that has come to power on a manifesto of forced repatriation. There is panic in the streets. Resistance is scattered as bands of immigrants, environmentalists and activists flee to the ‘wild space’ north of the border. Here they bind together as they hide away from the UKops who deploy witch drones to trap, imprison and deport them.

So far, so dystopian. However, while this album undoubtedly warps the dark currents of the present into the future in disturbing ways, this is a recording that delights the listener with the most vibrant musicianship. The soundscape is ever-changing, twisting and turning with dexterity in ways which bewitch and surprise. Analogue instrumentation, mostly drawn from Somerset’s collection of 1960s keyboards, effects and woodwind, is used throughout to provide distinctive and innovative instrumentation.

Three years in the making, When Will the Wolves Howl? is an album fermented to perfection. It is the brainchild of Michael Somerset, formerly of industrial funksters Clock DVA and Was (Not Was). Those Revivalists who were lucky enough to attend the FHR events at the British Museum in 2016 and the Hepworth Gallery, Wakefield in 2017, will most likely recall the striking performances delivered by Michael alongside The Consumptives and Mother Crow.

The album brings together a variety of other talented musicians on the Sheffield music scene, including I Monster, Simon Lewinski and several highly skilled drummers and bassists. Of particular note is the singer Sylwia Anna Drwal, whose vocal performance animates the whole recording with flair and sonic seduction. Given the subject of the album it is interesting to note that Sylvia is Polish and one might assume that the band’s name Mzylkypop is also of Eastern European derivation. However, this is not so as it is in fact a word which Somerset made up as a child to describe the ‘mischief maker’ in the Superman of DC Comics whose name was just a bunch of letters and symbols. As the strange uncertainties of 2018 begin to unfold, it is time that we allowed Mr Somerset and his fellow Mzylkypop mischief makers to entertain and protect us.

The howling has begun.

John Pilgrim

Review – Marshland – Nightmares and Dreams on the Edge of London Gareth E. Rees


A waking dream on the margin between two universes

Marshland – Nightmares and Dreams on the Edge of London

Gareth E. Rees

Illustrated by Ada Jusic

INFLUX press

“Cocker spaniel by his side, Rees wanders the marshes of Hackney, Leyton and Walthamstow, avoiding his family and the pressures of life. He discovers a lost world of Victorian filter plants, ancient grazing lands, dead toy factories and tidal rivers on the edgelands of a rapidly changing city. Ghosts are his friends. As strange tales of bears, crocodiles, magic narrowboats and apocalyptic tribes begin to manifest themselves, Rees embarks on a psychedelic journey across time and into the dark heart of London. It soon becomes clear that the very existence of this unique landscape is at threat. For on all sides of the marshland, the developers are closing in… Marshland is a deep map of the East London marshes, a blend of local history, folklore and weird fiction, where nothing is quite as it seems.” (Taken from the blurb.)

It is hard to write a considered review of a book that has affected one emotionally. This book is inspiring, emotive and eye-opening.

I have never been to Hackney. I fear London. There is a side of me that despises it. This is the seat of our utterly disappointing government, the home of evil bankers, vacuous celebrities and relentless musical theatre. London decides what to watch, what to visit, what is best and fashionable to wear, what to listen to, to read, to eat. It is faceless and monstrous, the twisted soul of our country.

I initially approached this book with some trepidation, did I want to spend days trawling through a text that explored an area of this city? After exploring the blurb and the fantastic quote pulled from its recesses:

“I had become a bit part in the dengue-fevered fantasy of a sick city.”

I figured that the writer could be singing from the same hymn-sheet. In many ways his book reveals an attitude far more complex than that. Whilst he despairs at the encroaching development of London into the edges of the Marshland in Hackney it is also clear that were it not for earlier developments such as the railway it would not exist. Significantly it is the meeting of these two worlds – this island of nature and the bizarre mix of architecture and industry – that creates a synergy. A little universe in which the strange will occur. A world in which the mundane and the surreal collide. This little world sticks its middle finger up at the city with such defiance that it crackles with an other-worldly energy.

“Wherever you’ve got a margin between two types of culture and two types of landscape you often get a deeper awareness of the supernatural and the spiritual.” – Revd. Tony Redman – (taken from M.R.James: Ghost Writer – BBC)

It is this margin that Gareth Rees explores. Like a 21st Century Kay Harker, he explores a world in which the lines between imagination and reality are continually blurred. In Masefield’s “The Midnight Folk” we constantly question whether Kay is dreaming or awake and the sensation is similar here. By placing the real; the architecture, news reports and stringent historical research, alongside the unreal, we are plunged into a vortex of monsters, bears, time-slips, shamen and hallucination.

The book explores the geographic reality of the Hackney Marshes, but overlaying this in soft swirls of mystical graffiti are utterly compelling tales inspired by or pulled from Mr Rees’ study of the area. It appears that his study is a mix of hard graft and rambling through the Marshes with his dog Hendrix.

Rees introduces us to a man who transforms into a bear, two unfortunate time-travellers and an unhappy couple who find themselves possessed and changing into the occupants of a demolished factory. We meet the occupants of a barge from London’s netherworld, explore the legacy of the Olympic Village whilst visiting a mystical peddler in contraband antique books. This scratches the surface and I would urge you to seek out this book to discover more.

What strikes me about this book is how it has opened my eyes to my own town. I live in Reading which like many urban sprawls contains a weird mix of old and new. It was on finishing the final chapter that I took my children out for a walk. We have been to the nature reserve in Reading but on our way there we decided to try a different route and found ourselves on an old railway line. This ran high above the water meadows. On one side the beauty of the floods were framed by pink-grey tower blocks, while on the other streams and rivers snaked through swathes of green before the drab majesty of the town dump in the distance. We discovered:

dumped mattresses, ceiling fans and wheelbarrows vomited out of the backs of broken garden fences

the remnants of an old fire on the old railway bridge, made from its tumbling bricks

a lake of glass (my son’s words)

two rusted metal fences that framed the path creating “a gate to Narnia” (my daughter’s words)

It was into this margin that a deer ran across our path.

We were in the town yet not in the town.

We were in the country yet not in the country.

I had discovered the margin between worlds.

I hadn’t looked for it before.

Chris Lambert

Folk Horror Revival Young Artist of The Month

The Folk Horror Revival Young Artist of The Month is an award for children under 12 years old. Many of our group members come from an arts background and so we’d like to encourage and inspire the next generation too.
We don’t mind if the work is based on other artists work as we understand that all artists learn from copying, plus its great to see the inspiration behind the work. Drawings, paintings or any other medium are welcome. The drawings must be inspired by either folk horror, folk tales (including fairy tales), folk traditions, ghost stories, magic, myth, legend or even the seasons.

Every month we will be giving away a copy of Sharron Krauss’ book Hares in The Moonlight(published by Wyrd Harvest Press) to our favourite artist. For more information about this great book, please follow the following link:


The winner will be announced during the last week of every month and will be judged by Folk Horror Revival administrators John Chadwick and Chris Lambert.

Please don’t worry if the entry is submitted on the last few days of the month as all entries will roll into the following month if they arrive after our decision making.

Submit all entries digitally, as a .jpg file preferably, to fhryoungartistawards.

Best of luck!

Book Review: American Ghost by Paul Guernsey

American Ghost by Paul Guernsey

Thumb Rivera is a small time drug dealer who makes the mistake of trying to get in league with the local biker gang, which ends badly for him. American Ghost follows his efforts to solve his own murder from the afterlife. Paul Guernsey’s third novel is basically a supernatural detective story with a heavy dose of dark Americana, featuring backwoods biker club houses, trailer meth labs and abandoned murder houses.

The story is structured in an interesting fashion, with Thumb’s spirit travelling through time and space, with no knowledge of how the afterlife works, this being revealed slowly to him via other trapped spirits he meets on the way, including the ghost of a man who died in a road accident, who now lingers in the spot he died. By and large Thumb has to observe how life moves on without him, but learns to communicate with two living people, a hapless ghost hunter and a pig farmer who is also a frustrated novelist, who provide a conduit to the land of the living.

The story is well constructed and keeps you engaged as the plot unfolds, as Thumb comes closer to discovering who killed him and why. The afterlife Guernsey constructs is fascinating, with it’s own internal logical and laws.

I’m not usually much of a fan of crime fiction, but this supernatural twist on the murder mystery made it much more enjoyable. If you fancy a haunting (in both senses of the word) mystery novel, then this is for you.

Paul Guernsey also edits The Ghost Story, which has much of interest to revivalists.

review by Scott Lyall

Review – The Stone Tapes – Avebury

Was this sent to me in the post or did I discover it in a cavity between the two damp granite walls of a forgotten stately home? Did I, driven by the impulse of a voice within me, frantically tear it from the mud and sod of a field deep in the heart of the West Country? Was I surrounded by ancient stones that seemed to sing out to me when touched or gently caressed? I am uncertain. Is this a genuine recording created using up to date digital technology or are they the sounds captured in the lusum magnetite of the dank walls, playing back when the atmospheric conditions are just right? There is an uncertainty here. This uncertainty is frightening and this fear is rich and sublime.

I listen again to ensure that it is not simply my own imagination or a half forgotten dream, but there it is; the voice in the static, the seemingly innocuous information about Avebury, the snatches of phone conversation with one voice strangely distorted. Is it deliberate? I don’t know. But I am unsettled, I am frightened and this fear is alive and immediate. But I welcome this and I stroll towards it all, arms wide.

In West Kennet the ritual has begun and my head spins, half formed voices dance out at me from within the ether, the whirling electronic dervish excites, inviting me to join the dance but I must not. I must resist. I take shelter in the lychgate, the rain pummelling down all around me and for a moment all is calm.

The rain stops and I venture towards the Owl and Druid Stone. I know I should not touch it but my hand is pulled forwards. The voices and tones thrust into me like lightning into bark. I am among the petrosomatoglyphs, the damp and the drip, the indistinct. The sound grows, it ululates through me as I spin, the light between the stones scratching at my retinas with every pass. My feet leave the ground, stray ends of grass tickling at my bare feet as I rise a narrow herepath before me, made of silver and granite. On closer inspection the path is festooned with tiny carvings, myriads of spirals, symbols, laughing mouths. The mouths move and speak and sing and question and grin. I am lost. I fall.

Reality seeps in. A voice clear and distinct on the end of a crackling line gives thanks. But, it flits away and deeper voices and drifting tones chant around me.

A cry. Someone is lost. But how can you be lost if you stand in one place? How can you be lost if you have not moved from the centre of a field? The sound builds, a low hum, growing. Reassuring dots and bleeps try to break through, but something is crawling in the dark. Something is in the way. I cannot move.

I am overtaken. I should not have listened to the Stone Tapes for madness seeps through. Sometimes we look to deep into the dark, sometimes we travel too far.

I have removed the headphones but Avebury is still within me. The sounds among the stones are sounds among the synapses. The stones are seen when I shut my eyes, when I blink, when the sunlight scrapes across the iris, the stones creep through into the dark.

Do not listen.

Do not listen.

Do not lis

Do not


Sink. Tread. Spin.

Let it in. Let the stones in. Let them all in.

Chris Lambert – January 2018

REVIEW – Rowan Amber Mill `Harvest The Ears’

The Rowan Amber Mill
Harvest The Ears

The Rowan Amber Mill have been quietly but steadily pursuing their own eerie ruralism and arcane take on psychedelia since 2008’s ‘Folk Devils and Moral Panics’, notably releasing the ‘Book of the Lost’ project with fellow traveller of these roads, Emily Jones, in 2014. This latter recording was an homage to such films as The Wicker Man, Witchfinder General, Blood On Satan’s Claw and Psychomania and ably constructed a soundtrack for an imaginary composite movie, replete with accompanying lobby cards and a suitable mythos. Aficionados of both modern day acid folk troubadours such as Sproatly Smith and Sharron Kraus as well as the haunted electronics of the Ghost Box label are strongly encouraged to wander not only the dark woods of ‘Harvest The Ears’, but also those of the Amber Mill’s back catalogue (a twisted folk version of Gary Numan’s ‘Are Friends Electric’ is one suggested highlight).

The Rowan Amber Mill’s most recent offering is a summing up and compilation of sorts, gathering new, unreleased and remastered songs together under the appropriate banner ‘Cuts From The Folk Horror Archive Vol 1’.

The extended title track of the afore mentioned ‘Book Of The Lost’ opens the album, a Vincent Price styled narrator and a shimmering wash of harpsichord and vintage synth immediately creating an effective atmosphere somewhere between John Barry and Paul Ferris’ s essential score for Witchfinder General. The full length ‘The Book of The Lost’ is a master work and this lengthier version of a track cut from its parent album is no less essential. The melancholic beauty of ‘Separations’ follows, part electronic madrigal and part woodwind imbued lament; this is truly a folk song of the forest. Next, ‘The Witch Twists The Pins’ is a sinister nursery rhyme, echoed vocals framed by the darkest of psych folk to conjure an evocative and magical musical incantation. A highlight of an album filled with many such strong points, this would be worth the cost of admission alone but there is much, much more. ‘Face Of Flowers (Woodcut)’, from the genius ‘Heartwood’ album, utilises harmonised vocals, insistent acoustic guitar and spectral strings in manner that surely has Paul Giovanni nodding his agreement from above. ‘A Hunting’ glistens into being from a few stately harp notes, growing and layering with both analogue synths and waves of choral voices, creating a welcome sense of unease and beguiling nostalgia. This then segues into ‘Pit Of Horror’, a swirling and dramatic instrumental that surely would have been gracing the soundtrack to a 1970’s children’s TV show of a more pagan bent, such as ‘Children Of The Stones’ or ‘The Owl Service’, had it been of that age. ‘The Witch Twists The Pins’ agreeably returns in instrumental form, revealing hitherto hidden detail, until it leads into the final track ‘The Call Of The Black Meadow 1, 2 and 3 (Backing and FX)’. A track previously used on The Rowan Amber Mill’s promotional video for the ‘Songs From The Black Meadow’ album (inspired by Chris Lambert’s book ‘Tales From The Black Meadow’), this is a haunted house of a song, stripped back to effects and sounds redolent of Daphne Oram or The BBC Radiophonic Workshop with solar winds and ghostly electronics whispering in and out of focus to powerful and disturbing effect. And then it is over and the listener is left with an enduring and pleasant feeling of disquiet, appropriate given the folk horror nature of these compositions.

This is an album then that belies its compilation or assorted collection status; it genuinely works as a piece in its own right and sits comfortably and confidently alongside the other Rowan Amber Mill recordings. Highly recommended to those who are keen on investigating the musical side of the folk horror revival, this is indeed a rich harvest for the ears. Time to gather the corn.

Grey Malkin January 2018.

Folk Horror Revival in Shindig! magazine 74

Check out the current issue 74 of Shindig! magazine for a feature by Adam Scovell on the music of the classic folk horror films Witchfinder General and The Blood on Satan’s Claw. The article is an abriged extract from an essay to be published in the next upcoming book from FHR/ Wyrd Harvest Press, Harvest Hymns covering the music of folk horror.

The book will be a mixture of articles, album reviews and interviews from the likes of Maddy Prior, John Cameron, Jim Jupp, Jonny Trunk, Sharon Kraus, Jim Moon, Rennie Sparks, Drew Mullholland and many more, and we hope to have it available early in the New Year. As a teaser here’s all the albums reviewed in the book:

Shindig! magazine, devoted to "the most far-out ’60s sounds through country-rock and folk to soul and electronic experimentation", has long championed folk horror worthy music and related films and TV. You’ll have to hurry to pick up a copy of this issue in the shops though, the next issue is going to be available on the 4th of January.

Shindig! subscriptions and back issues if you miss this one are available here:


Adam Scovell is author of the book ‘Folk Horror: Hours Dreadful and Things Strange’, and his blog Celluloid Wicker Man can be read here: