In search of Wyrms and other Beasties.

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This event is the opening night and meet and greet of the artists of Wyrms and Other Beasties Art Exhibiton of FHR Winter Ghosts 2021 Symposium. The date is SATURDAY, 30 OCTOBER 2021 FROM 19:00-23:45. It is being held at Flowergate Hall, Whitby, United Kingdom.

In search of Wyrms and other Beasties! This the opening night and meet and greet the artists of the selling art exhibition associated with our FHR Winter Ghosts 2021 Symposium We Have Wyrms! There also maybe the odd admin lurking about too!We would love to see you.

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Our very own Cobweb.

Please may I introduce Cobweb Mehers, artist and FHR admin. Cobweb lives in a little house at the edge of the world with his wife Kt and their cats Tiamat and Baal. He claims to have been sculpting and painting for as long as he can remember, but it’s been longer than that. For many years he concentrated on creating artifacts based around mythical and historical themes for @eolithdesigns. His sculptures inspired by prehistoric art were sold in conjunction with the British Museum’s Ice Age art exhibition in 2013 and included a recreation of The Swimming Reindeer especially created for the event. His work has also appeared in the Severin Films horror anthology, The Theatre Bizarre, and he continues to work with Finnish director Lauri Löytökoski. Cobweb’s involvement with the Folk Horror Revival movement over the past few years has taken his more recent work down a different path. He returned to painting and started work on a new collection called Beyond the fields we know, which is inspired by the history, folklore, and landscape of the North Pennines. In 2019 these 13 paintings made up his first solo exhibition. He likes to immerse himself in the strange and beautiful world on his doorstep, spending cold nights and sunny days wandering the North Pennines in the company of fairies, witches, and lost gods. Many of his pieces begin life using the technique of automatic drawing to bypass the rational and form a more instinctive relationship with the landscape. These initial raw responses to the places visited are then expanded upon with a mixture of traditional and digital painting. He hopes to capture and recreate those rare glimpses of the world at the edges of our vision and beyond the fields we know.

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Next we have our 3D artist, have you seen her Witch Hares? Jane Barnett was taught to embroider by her grandmother, and has been stitching and making art since she was a little girl. Her interest in mythology, magic and folklore led to her taking a degree in anthropology and art, and ever since she has combined all of these interests together. After a career working as an education officer in museums and galleries, Jane became a tattoo studio owner and artist. Ill health unfortunately meant she could not continue on this path, but gave her instead, the time and opportunity to concentrate on her own art practice. Jane has sold her work in galleries in Brittany and Wales (were she formally lived), and internationally, but is now back in her home territory of Yorkshire working under the title of Brigante Textile Arts. Jane hopes that textiles and fibre arts will eventually be recognized as a valid medium for artistic expression. She is also passionate about recycling, and tries to make art from second hand or found materials, including floorboards. For this reason, she can often be found hanging around charity shops, skips, beaches, in woods or abandoned buildings. Her favourite place to be however, is on the moors…..usually accompanied by her partner and dogs. Her favourite things include a good full moon, storms and the smell of wood smoke.

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Next we have for your delectation the scarily talented Laura Jeacock! Laura Jeacock is a trained scientist, but left academia in 2018 to focus her energies on creating art. Her work to date includes devotional paintings of Deity, as well as witchcraft and nature inspired pieces of artwork. She likes to work with pencil, pen and ink, watercolours and acrylics – from illustrative to realistic, and usually incorporates some magical, pagan or spiritual element. Nature is her muse! Her art has been published in academic journals dedicated to Goddess studies, as well as in Nature journal. She has previously exhibited her work at the Season’s of the Witch exhibition, alongside fellow witch artists, in Edinburgh and Alloa. She is one of the founding members of the art collective Oak and Ash and Thorn, who create art from a shared deep feeling for the themes of nature and magic, and are working towards their second online exhibition. She currently lives in Edinburgh, with her partner and menagerie of familiars. When she not creating she can be found out in the wilds of Scotland, practicing yoga, or buried in an esoteric book. You can find her lurking in various corners of the internet – here is a good place to start: https://linktr.ee/laura.jeacock

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We now would like to introduce you to the amazing Valerie Herron, who is contributing all the way from the USA!!! Valerie Herron is a Pacific Northwest-based illustrator of the mythological, the macabre, and the absurd. She received her BFA in Illustration at Pacific Northwest College of Art in Portland, OR. Valerie has created art for numerous publications, including The Steel Clan Saga by T. Thorn Coyle, Night Walk by Aeryn Rudel, as well as two Lovecraft anthologies – The Book of Starry Wisdom and The Book of the Three Gates – by Strix Publishing. Valerie has created art and content for multiple entertainment media enterprises such as RiffTrax, Faerieworlds, Privateer Press, and Pacific NorthWEIRD. Outside of her creative practice she spends her time listening to music and podcasts, being out in nature, playing with her animals, writing, reading, gaming, and exploring a myriad of sorcerous activities. Please go and give her art page some FHR love – The Art of Valerie Herron.

KT Mehers.

Treasury of Folklore: Woodlands & Forests: Wild Gods, World Trees and Werewolves by Dee Dee Chainey & Willow Winsham – Book Review

Following in the footsteps of the Treasury of Folklore: Seas & Rivers: Sirens Selkies and Ghost Ships (Reviewed Here ) folklorists extraordinaire Dee Dee Chainey and Willow Winsham (the masterminds behind the #FolkloreThursday social media phenomenon) take us by the hand now like babes in the wood and lead us … er … into the woods! But fear not, you could find no better guides to alert us to the wonders and the woes of this strange sylvan kingdom.

Within its pages, upon the paper that came from the woods itself, we are introduced to many amazing arboreal creatures and woodland wanderers from forests the world over. Some of them heroes and heroines like Vasilisa the Beautiful, a fair maiden who braved the cold Birch forests of old Russia and encountered one of folk horror’s favourite supernatural witches – the iron-toothed crone, Baba Yaga, and Paul Bunyan, the giant lumberjack of the North American timber lands & his loyal companion the blue-haired moose, Babe. We encounter strange creatures such as the timid Squonk which upon capture would dissolve into nothing in a flood of tears and the human-faced tree dogs of China – the Penghou. We meet gods and demi-gods and elemental spirits of the wild woods – the Leshy, Hamadryads, Herne the Hunter, the Moss People and many many more. We encounter those denizens of dark woods for centuries – the bears and the wolves, yet these bears and wolves may be more than we dreamed and may disturbingly be more like us than we’d dare to imagine.
And we hear the lore of the trees themselves from the Dragon’s Blood Trees of Yemen to the ancient funereal Yews of Britain; from the sacred Banyan trees of India to the giant old Cedars of Canada.


The book is illustrated throughout by the charming block-print style illustrations of Joe McLaren. Images both dark and strange but with a quirky humour to them, which will likely appeal to readers of a wide age-range. Again as with the Seas and Rivers volume, some adult subject matter is touched upon but with parents’ own discretion and judgement I could see this book being popular with both themselves and their kids. I know I would have loved these Treasury books as a youngster. Furthermore I remember years ago when I was doing Tree Warden training at an agricultural college one of the tutors asked the class what it is we liked or indeed loved about trees and forests. I had numerous reasons, their role in the environment and natural habitat, their look both as pleasing landscape and for their interesting aesthetic from the point of an artist, their smell, their ambience and I also mentioned their role in folklore. At the end of the class another student approached me and asked if I could recommend any books that featured the folklore of trees and had Dee Dee and Willow’s book been available then I know it would have been top of the list. It is a great introductory book to the topic, yet it is also so diverse and so widely researched that all followers of folklore no matter how seasoned will find something unfamiliar or of further intrigue within this beguiling little book. I myself was rather bemused to encounter Tió de Nadal, within these pages. If unfamiliar with this bizarre Yule Log of Catalan tradition, then I’ll say no more and let you discover this rather odd custom for yourself within this fantastic book.
Woodlands & Forests makes an excellent companion both visually and content wise to the Seas & Rivers volume and also Dee Dee’s earlier A Treasury of British Folklore.
It would make a great little present for a loved one or for yourself for Halloween or a great stocking filler for Christmas … but maybe not put it in the same stocking as Tió de Nadal !!

Treasury of Folklore: Woodlands & Forests: Wild Gods, World Trees and Werewolves.
Dee Dee Chainey & Willow Winsham
Batsford. 2021. Hb. Illus. 192pgs.

Review by Andy Paciorek


Podcast Spotlight: The Silt Verses.

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Those ghosts in the machine really wont leave my computer. It must be warm and inviting in there. On the positive side of things though it means I have had more time to sift through the tidal wave of podcasts to find something unsettling to recommend.

I would take a guess that most of us reading this know of a bizarre podcast called I Am In Eskew. If you havent then stop reading and go give it a listen. It is mental. The Silt Verses is created by the same people, Eskew Productions, who are John Ware and Muna Hussen. The show follows two characters, Carpenter and Faulkner, as they travel the length of a river in search of their deity and his lost followers. It is a world in which god’s are easily manifest and have flourished in the backwaters of America and have become intertwined into the everday life of the population and authority has had to step in to control the worship. The makers describe the show as a Folk Horror audio drama and so far I would not disagree. I am three episodes in and the themes of ritual and sacrifice is interwoven deeply into the fabric of each episode.

Unlike many other audio drama podcasts I have listened to the Silt Verses has episodes that clock in at anywhere between 40 to 60 minutes. The production value is really high quality and the voice acting is the same. Lots of effort has been put into these and it really shows as the episodes begin subtle world building that you will hardly even notice until the scene is over. You then question why you thought sacrificing a stranger on the river bank to appease its deity sounded like normal practice. It is high strangeness in a very familiar and comfortable place.

It has great reviews too, with even the BBC singing its praise, so when you have a moment find them on whatever platform you listen to podcasts on and give them a subscribe. Thanks.

https://www.thesiltverses.com/

Baal Hill Wood & Wolsingham Holy Well

Wandering the weird in the North Country, Borders & Pennines

Baal Hill Wood. Wolsingham. County Durham.

Despite its evocative name, Baal Hill Wood is not named in tribute to the Levantine god of biblical times, but perhaps refers to the old term ‘bale’ meaning a fire or beacon, or it could refer to a baal pit, an old industrial term which here may relate to the local lead smelting industry. Whether its name is sacred or profane, does not take away from the wood and its surrounding area’s history and atmosphere.

In the 14th Century the wood was the property of the Prince Bishops of Durham, but has passed through several hands since and is now under the care of Durham Wildlife Trust. Within the wood is an ancient Oak tree (400+ years old) known as The Bishop’s Oak.

The wood lies between a complex of expensive housing (in an area locally referred to as Hollywood because of its grandeur…

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Gibbet Hills

Northumbria Ghost~Lore Society ~ a new project from Folk Horror Revival creator Andy Paciorek introduces the new blog with a visit to a very strange place … Gibbet Hills ( which some people may recognise from the cover of the first edition of our Folk Horror Revival: Corpse Roads book)

https://northumbriaghostloresociety.wordpress.com/2021/08/18/gibbet-hills/

Richard Skelton: Interview and Review

Richard Skelton is an artist, musician and writer from Lancashire in northern England. His work is informed by landscape, evolving from sustained immersion in specific environments and deep, wide-ranging research incorporating ecology and geology, folklore, myth and language. He currently runs Corbel Stone Press with his wife, the Canadian poet, Autumn Richardson.

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Folk Horror Revival’s John Pilgrim recently caught up with Richard to make a few routine enquiries on matters of mutual interest and fascination. The responses set the scene for a reflective review by Foster Neville of Richard’s second novella ‘And Then Gone’.

FHR: Deepening the sensory connection with landscape is a central preoccupation in your work. How has your experience of landscape changed over the years and has it been different for you over the last year or so?

I’ve become increasingly interested in physicality — touch, weight, attrition, decay — and the internally transformative effect of contact. What you might call ‘contagious magic’. I’m also drawn more and more to the non-corporeal analogue of the physical. I’m not conventionally religious, but these lines from Paracelsus say it better than I can:

‘It is opposed to all true philosophy to say that flowers lack their own eternity. They may perish and die here; but they will reappear in the restitution of all things. Nothing has been created out of the Great Mystery which will not inhabit a form beyond the aether.’

As so much else has fallen away in the last year, I’ve had the opportunity to explore my local landscape more than ever before. Being restricted to a particular area has sharpened my focus, and I’ve been making more films and visual works as a result.

FHR: Please can you tell us about Corbel Stone Press – what is its purpose and how has it evolved over the years? Are there any publications or recordings which you would particularly recommend to those of a folk horror persuasion?

We publish books, pamphlets, music, artworks and editions that focus on landscape and the natural world. We’re particularly interested in the folkloric and mythical. ‘Reliquiae’, our biannual journal of prose, poetry and translations, might be of interest because, over the course of the past eight years, we’ve been trying to shed light on the other-than-human, primarily through the lens of world mythology. My previous novella, ‘The Look Away’, and its poetic companion, ‘Dark Hollow Dark’, might also appeal to your readers, as, like ‘And Then Gone’, they both present an immersion in the rural landscape that is far from bucolic.

FHR: You once buried and exhumed a violin. Can you say more about this and what you gained from the experience?

Yes, back in 2014 I interred a violin at Ouseburn, Newcastle, as part of a commission for the AV Festival. It was something I’d done privately before — albeit obliquely documented in my book, ‘Landings’ — and represents my most obvious experiment with contagious magic. I wanted the land to impart itself viscerally on the music that I was to create. It was a ritual surrender to telluric energies; an exchange with the genius loci.

FHR: We live in troubled times. Your work – whether sonic, written or visual – appears to offer a therapeutic aspect. Is this something which you have consciously developed?

It’s probably a truism to say that all artistic endeavour is therapeutic for the artist involved — so much so that for me it’s a compulsion. I feel ill at ease if I’m not working on something. But I don’t think about it beyond that. I try not to reflect on how a work might manifest whilst I’m working on it. In any case, much of what I create often doesn’t see the light of day. The process of creation itself is nearly always private. It’s a continual process, like an underground river that occasionally surfaces here and there.

FHR: What are your current projects and future plans?

I’ve spent much of the past 3 years researching a book that will be published on the summer solstice. It’s called ‘Stranger in the Mask of a Deer’, and it’s a kind of literary seance between the present and the Late-Upper Palaeolithic, some 15,000 years ago. This was the time when the land that became Britain began to emerge from the ice that covered northern Europe. I wanted to think about how humans of that time related to the land, and to plants and animals. It’s full of fear, violence and blood, but also a sense of equality and respect between humans and the other agencies of the natural world. There will also be an accompanying short film, entitled ‘Before Albion’.

Review of ‘And Then Gone’ by Foster Neville

Richard Skelton’s second novella, ‘And Then Gone’, charts the journey of a woman travelling back to her childhood home through a landscape which but for its lack of people would have been familiar to Northumberland poet Basil Bunting. The disaster which prompts this journey is never named but the protagonist’s ‘dense violent dreams/Dreamed with soul and body’ suggest perhaps the aftermath of a war; the woman returning like a ghost ‘to tell the story/Until the dawn command’1. Her special relationship with the emptied landscape is akin to a survivor and also that imagined of bog bodies, with their supposed deep involvement in the cycles of birth, death, harvest and renewal.

“In the country, where one can often see an entire parish from boundary to boundary, one can also often see one’s entire life. It is comforting – and painful”. (Roland Blythe, Divine Landscapes)

Just as the title itself works backwards from the last line, ‘And then gone’, one can profitably examine Richard Skelton’s book in light of its own back matter question: “Are our minds like the land? Bounded.” It is part of the deftness of touch evident in this work that the idea of mind as a narrative and the way such a narrative must break the rules of English sentence construction to communicate itself are allowed to shape this eloquent, poetical little book (205 pages of widely spaced ‘paragraphs’).

A cursory flick through the pages, a sensual pleasure not to be underestimated in this age of diminishing bookshops and physical contact, reveals beneath the thumb short, stanza-like ‘paragraphs’ which immediately made me think of ‘Vägmärken’ by Dag Hammarskjöld with its flashes of an inner history put into words. ‘And then gone’ however, is a work of creative fiction and therefore to be considered much more than a collection of pensèes. The reader, like a pilgrim, follows a path into a layered story which is very much concerned with flesh and spirit. It also has often a strong feel of initiation to it, together with the disorientation of the senses which accompany formal rituals. To understand this is the better to appreciate what comes next.

Picture a zoetrope, the vertical slits allowing only brief glimpses of images to give the illusion of the movement which is the definition of life. Between each slightly different image however, there is blackness, shadow. To slow down the movement of the zoetrope is to become more aware of the resonant space between. ‘And then gone’, as the title demonstrates, draws on the fact that there is no renewal in nature without loss; no light without shade. ‘And then gone’ also points to the erosion of things and how with that erosion come new stimuli. To continue a cinematic, or rather a theatrical analogy, the occasional Italics come across like stage directions: read in the wings and therefore contrasting the bright and thrilling light of the active stage. This is very fitting for a work which despite the fragmentary presentation (ambient sound – and the eerie silences found at old execution places, all manner of light and perfume), maintains dramatic development.

My old university tutor had a party trick, which was to take a copy of any book by Dickens and open it in the middle to show that here was to be found either the peak of action or the most telling point of the whole work. We were all quite convinced until later we discovered Dickens originally published in monthly parts, yet the habit to throw open a book in the middle and see what presents is hard to give up. Page 111 here feels like midway and we find:

His dreams now, full of her, her voice, the shape of her body. The longing of youth, a fire by the waters of adulthood. Revel in it, though it burns the skin.

The writing is never less than poetic. Rather suggestively, instead of the usual roman number IX – i.e. ten minus one – for nine, page 111 is preceded by a chapter/part marker of VIIII; breaking another rule, this time the rule of repeating ‘1’ more than three times being invalid. And this ahead of page 111. More ritual, more disorientation? But what I want to draw attention to here is why this is a particularly good book to read right now, because as of 2020 we have all developed skin hunger: we want the reassurance which comes only from human touch. As a book presented in stages, though leading to disappearance, this particular extract and where it appeared did make me reflect upon that brain surge which occurs at the ages of 14-17, and the connection to the next, higher brain level.

‘And then gone’, in spite of – or perhaps because of – its title is a far-seeing book. But it does not present a conventional way of looking any more than it presents a traditional way of laying out a book, or of organising words into sentences and those sentences into paragraphs. It is too easy to say the work is ‘impressionistic’, and in any case the details are always very clear and I have tried to emphasise that what one senses is less the light than the dark between. Certainly though there is landscape, there are textures. This is from the penultimate page:

The mist is thicker now. Rubbing at the shapes of things. Gathering about her.

And this is from ‘Vägmärken’ again:

“Only the hand that erases can write the true thing”. – Meister Eckhart.

Truth, as I think most of us acknowledge now, is likely to be found at the edges of things. Or perhaps it is more accurate to say it is something we encounter at the edges of things, as to say ‘found’ is to suggest that such a truth could be possessed and somehow carried away from such a point with us (I’m conscious of straying into Damaris Parker-Rhodes territory here, and yet the pilgrim in us all should not be neglected and journeys are no longer the preserve of saints or great visionaries). Whatever our beliefs, we aspire to self-knowledge and to greater knowledge of the world about us; we seek places of revelation (Pendle, Lindisfarne) as we seek enlightenment. Our minds do appear to us a limited territory, to go beyond which means what many term madness. If we therefore can say our minds are bounded by sense, then by playing with that sense we can go beyond our minds to a different consciousness. The temporary dislocation from our normal perceptions and everyday world (close as that is to a working definition of Folk Horror; ) one could argue is an important part of the reading of any work of fiction, as it is of any ritual initiation ceremony.

What is it we encounter, once we move from our comfortable world? Field, hill, forest, river are sketched across with man’s symbols from earlier traditions. And not only his symbols. Were one to note all of the psychic happenings that have been recorded across England, there is not a single natural contour would be without a haunting of some sort. Telepathy has been suggested for that age-old phenomenon of the dying being seen by loved ones, often at great distances. Psychic happenings are all around us, and within us.

‘And then gone’ is available from corbelstonepress.com in paperback for £12.00.

Note:

1. ’Reveille’, Primo Levi, Translated Al Alvarez.

Podcast Spotlight: Tales From Wyrd Scotland. 

By Paul Beech

Hi Everyone. Before we get into this week’s podcast I have to make an apology for my lack of presence recently. A spirit has possessed my laptop and I am at the mercy of its temperament. There are only so many times I can press a button and get no response before I transform into The Incredible Anxiety Hulk and start furiously tapping my feet on the floor and fingers against my forehead. Anyway…

 This week we head up one of my favourite places on earth: Scotland! Is it one of the most haunted places too? Possibly. Edinburgh certainly has a grizzly history of people being cooked alive in vaults as they tried to hide from fire. At least that was what the tour guide told me on a spooky summer night a decade ago. Either way it is a place full of folklore, traditions, mythology and legends and this podcast aims to share those stories with you. 

 I think most of us will be familiar with some of Scotland’s most famous tales like Sawny Bean and his cannibal family or the mystery of Eilean Mor Lighthouse, but they are only a couple of highlights of a huge road map of mysterious and unexplained events in Scotland’s history. Sure they are covered here (Eilean Mor has its own episode) but there is a lot more. Looking amongst the episode descriptions, and from what I have listened to myself, there are stories of hauntings, UFO sightings, tragic and violent events, spiritualism, infamous people, old traditions and even some fairies. There is a great two part episode where they cover an A to Z of Scottish Folklore and then another that covers the history of Scottish LGBT+. More of a historical account than anything weird or spooky but it was to mark LGBT+ History month and makes for an interesting listen all the same. 

 Up until episode 7 it is presented by Gordon Stewart who runs his own blog called The Borderlands, which kind of runs like an accompanying piece to the podcast and is totally worth a read. Episode 8 onwards Gordon is joined by Barbara Buchanan as a co-narrator. I actually can’t find any information on her so if any of you out there know her please pass on the information so I can amend this. Lastly, the episodes are produced by Nick Cole-Hamilton who is an audio designer and composer. And what a great job he does. The episodes have great spooky background music and effects and give off a great feeling that you are listening to them on a cold dark night in an old pub or by a fireplace in a cottage in the middle of nowhere. 

Tales From Wyrd Scotland | Episode 1 – The Haunting Of Buckholm Tower in Tales From Wyrd Scotland (soundcloud.com)

The Border Lands – Strange tales from the lands around the Border and between worlds. Scotland. (wordpress.com)

youbetterrun.media

The Satyr & Other Tales: Book Review



Stephen J. Clark’s The Satyr & Other Tales is an anthology of his earlier book releases The Satyr (2010) and The Bestiary of Communions (2011) now released as a paperback edition.

Uniting the 4 tales in a single anthology is a good move as the tales compliment each other and are united not only by all the tales being set around the times of the two world wars but there is also a thread of artistic significance that weaves through all the stories.



Beginning with the book’s eponymous tale The Satyr, we the readers, are taken into the world of the great artist and occultist Austin Osman Spare. Although familiar no doubt to many Folk Horror Revivalists, Spare’s star as one of Britain’s greatest lost artists has begun to deservedly shine more in the last decade, he is still too unknown a quantity in the wider public consciousness. Though he was accepted into the Royal Academy whilst still a teenager and reputedly asked by a pre-war Adolf Hitler to paint his portrait (which Spare refused), he faded into semi-obscurity living almost a hermitic (and hermetic) life, reportedly paying for beer with paintings and taking care of a clowder of stray cats in his small London home. Being a somewhat enigmatic and eccentric character in real life, he is suited to be cast as a character within fiction. For me however there is always a sense of reticence upon beginning any fictional tale that features real people – what if their characterisation is ill-fitting and totally alien to how I imagined that person? In this case my fears are unfounded, Clark’s personification of Spare is well crafted. For the most part Spare is represented by reputation within the tale as the mysterious ‘Borough Satyr’ but when we do get to meet him in person as it were, Clark’s portrayal of him is very much how I’d envision the nature of Spare.
The main characters of the story however are an ex-con called Paddy and a strange visual artist he has took up with, who (her own name being unknown), is referred to as ‘Marlene Dietrich’ and her pursuer, a psychiatrist named Doctor Charnock. The story unfolds in WWII London during the aerial blitzkrieg as Marlene seeks to find Austin Osman Spare through the bombed out rubble of the nation’s capital and show him her portfolio of strange esoteric drawings and of Charnock’s endeavours to seize those drawings for her own purpose.
A difference made by Clark and his publisher Swan River Press to the anthologised edition is the inclusion of Clark’s own drawings in the style of Spare. I am biased as I approve of illustrated books and I like it when authors illustrate their own work as it gives a greater insight into the original creative vision of the piece. Clark does this justice. The art certainly emulates Spare but not only does it illustrate the story, it is suggestive of what Marlene’s own portfolio would look like. The tale itself is an esoteric adventure of crime, war and occult drama.




Unfortunately Clark has not illustrated the second half of the book, the trinity of novellas that make up The Bestiary of Communion. It would have been interesting to see the tales illustrated in the author’s own hand or if he can evoke (invoke?) other artists as well as he has Spare, then illustrations in the manner of Bruno Schulz, Nicolai Kalmakoff and Marie Čermínová would be fitting as probably would be a style befitting Alfred Kubin, Hugo Steiner-Prag, the New Objectivity movement or others of that era and ilk.
It is curious that earlier authors that came to mind in reading The Satyr, literally made their presence more apparent in the triumvirate that followed.

In the first of the Bestiary Tales, The Horned Tongue, a bookseller in Amsterdam, comes to learn that there were secrets about his late wife that he would never have imagined. My mind had flitted to the Russian novel The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov, upon the introduction of a key character and it becomes apparent that readers familiar with that book are intentionally led down that path. I found this theme that recurs of having real creative luminaries inspiring and influencing the texts intriguing.


The Lost Reaches is the next tale and possibly the one that sidesteps most from early 20th Century European gritty post-decadence into the world of surrealism as refugees take sanctuary in an art-house nestled in the Carpathian mountains.
Again another author whom passed through my mind in reading Clark’s work first came to mind and then manifestation. This time the remembrance of Bruno Schulz makes an appearance. Schulz, a Polish-Jewish artist and writer, whose work has been brought to the screen and a wider audience by both the visionary film director Wojciech Jerzy and the master animators The Brothers Quay, was tragically murdered by the Nazi regime during WWII.


Finally in a re-working of his novella My Mistress The Multitude, now renamed The Feast of the Sphinx (personally I preferred the first title, but I appreciate the name change in differentiating the versions) takes us to Prague whereby a strange chimeric Countess becomes the focus of attention and obsession in a time where the imminent arrival of invading Germanic troops into the city is a cause of profound dread.

These collected tales of Stephen J. Clark put me in mind of several notable authors – in addition to those mentioned above I perceived shades of Franz Kafka, JK Huysmans and Gustav Meyrink. That is not a complaint but a compliment. Clark’s writing is not derivative of these authors, his work is not a pastiche – it is just a case that his vision and settings are evocative of those times and souls and this book can stand alongside the works of these authors on its own merits. The Satyr & Other Tales may very well then be of interest to folk who like that strain of weird fiction that rose from the bones of Fin de Siècle decadent Europe, through secessionist expressionism and entartete kunst to interbellum and post-war surrealism. But how would it fare to the general reader? You do not need to be familiar with the artists and writers that cast a spell upon Clark’s tales – indeed his stories may be the gateway to discovering those creatives if previously unfamiliar with them and your curiosity piqued. But the tales need the reader’s attention, they are likely not suitable for a light summer holiday read but would suit dark nights and long rainy days.

Intriguing work, unknown to me upon its original release but that I’m very pleased to have caught The Satyr & Other Tales this time around.

All art © Stephen J. Clark

The Satyr & Other Tales is available from HERE and other online bookstores

Review by Andy Paciorek

Book Review: Wildwood- Tales Of Terror & Transformation From The Forest, edited by William P. Simmons

The forest is a potent symbol in the human psyche, it represents the primal, beyond civilisation, life giving but also harbouring unseen dangers. In his introduction to this collection of forest themed weird fiction, William P. Simmons notes that it can be treated in three major ways in such tales- as an eerie setting, whereby it’s remoteness allows cover for all manner of horror, a domain where witches, werewolves and demons can hide; that occult forces be born of it and act as the personification of nature, such as satyrs and elementals or that nature itself is a sentient being beyond human understanding. The tales collected here represent all three.
The tales are drawn from the late 19th century & early 20th century. Some are likely to be well known to folk horror fans, such as Arthur Machen’s The White People and MR James’ View From A Hill, both frequently anthologised but always welcome, while others are completely new to me, such as The Dead Valley, by Ralph Adams Cram, an eerie tale of a deadly landscape, high in the Swedish mountains.
The death of Pan is something often quoted, but judging by some of the tales here, he’s very much alive and lurking, Algernon Blackwood’s The Touch of Pan has him as nature personified, way beyond our concepts of good and evil, and he also turns up in Algernon Blackwood’s The Touch of Pan and E.M. Forster’s The Story Of A Panic.
The collection is rounded out with an appendix reprinting an essay on sylvan horrors by the ghost hunter Elliott O’Donnell, who, while not necessarily the most reliable source as a researcher, spins a great yarn. This makes for some eerie entertainment, with accounts of pixies and haunted trees.
This is a great collection of sylvan horror tales, ideal late-night reading, when the wind is whipping branches against your windows…

Review by SJ Lyall