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The Lure of the Unknown

The Lure of the Unknown

Algernon Blackwood

Published: April 2022

“Every thing possible to be believ’d is an image of truth.” – William Blake The Lure of the Unknown is a collection of Algernon Blackwood’s essays, talks, reviews and anecdotes exploring encounters with the strange and unusual or, in Blackwood’s preferred word, the “odd”. They include his first attempts to investigate alleged haunted houses, his association with such luminaries as W. B. Yeats, “A.E.”, and Gurdjieff; his thoughts on telepathy, reincarnation, elemental spirits, other dimensions, and his beliefs in what lies beyond our normal perceptions. These writings reveal not only Blackwood’s diverse experiences, but his depth of reading and analysis …

Ghosts of the Chit-Chat

Ghosts of the Chit-Chat

Robert Lloyd Parry (Editor)

Published: December 2020

“Such things may have attached to them heaven knows what spooks and spirits.” On the evening of Saturday, 28 October 1893, Cambridge University’s Chit-Chat Club convened its 601st meeting. Ten members and one guest gathered in the rooms of Montague Rhodes James, the Junior Dean of King’s College, and listened—with increasing absorption one suspects—as their host read “Two Ghost Stories”. Ghosts of the Chit-Chat celebrates this momentous event in the history of supernatural literature, the earliest dated record we have of M. R. James reading his ghost stories out loud. And it revives the contributions that other members made to …

Uncertainties 4

Uncertainties 4

Timothy J. Jarvis (Editor)

Published: February 2020

“We live in Gothic times.” – Angela Carter The Gothic tale, disreputable as it is, can, more readily than the realist short story, provoke unease and jolt us from complacency. Uncertainties is an anthology series—featuring authors from Britain, America, Canada, Australia, and the Philippines—each exploring the concept of increasingly fragmented senses of reality. These types of short stories were termed “strange tales” by Robert Aickman, called “tales of the unexpected” by Roald Dahl, and known to Shakespeare’s ill-fated Prince Mamillius as “winter’s tales”. But these are no mere ghost stories. These tales of the uncanny grapple with existential epiphanies of …

The Far Tower

The Far Tower

Mark Valentine (Editor)

Published: December 2019

“All Art that is not mere story-telling, or mere portraiture, is symbolic . . . ” – W. B. Yeats Stories of magic and myth, folklore and fairy traditions, the occult and the outré, inspired by the rich mystical world of Ireland’s greatest poet, W. B. Yeats. We invited ten contemporary writers to celebrate Yeats’s contributions to the history of the fantastic and supernatural in literature, drawing on his work for their own new and original tales. Each has chosen a phrase from his poems, plays, stories, or essays to herald their own explorations in the esoteric. Alongside their own …

Not to Be Taken at Bed-Time

Not to Be Taken at Bed-Time

Rosa Mulholland

Published: April 2019

“The lonely graveyard is far away, an’ the dead man is hard to raise—” In the late-nineteenth century Rosa Mulholland (1841-1921) achieved great popularity and acclaim for her many novels, written for both an adult audience and younger readers. Several of these novels chronicled the lives of the poor, often incorporating rural Irish settings and folklore. Earlier in her career, Mulholland became one of the select band of authors employed by Charles Dickens to write stories for his popular magazine All the Year Round, together with Wilkie Collins, Elizabeth Gaskell, Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu, and Amelia B. Edwards. Mulholland’s best …

Bending to Earth

Bending to Earth

Maria Giakaniki and Brian J. Showers

Published: March 2019

“He called to it and said, ‘Tell me what you are?’” Irish women have long produced literature of the gothic, uncanny, and supernatural. Bending to Earth draws together twelve such tales. While none of the authors herein were considered primarily writers of fantastical fiction during their lifetimes, they each wandered at some point in their careers into more speculative realms—some only briefly, others for lengthier stays. Names such as Charlotte Riddell and Rosa Mulholland will already be familiar to aficionados of the eerie, while Katharine Tynan and Clotilde Graves are sure to gain new admirers. From a ghost story in …

The Dummy

The Dummy

Nicholas Royle

Published: July 2018

“An uncanny effect often arises when the boundary between fantasy and reality is blurred . . .” – Sigmund Freud Nicholas Royle’s stories are “immaculately sinister”, according to Olivia Laing in the Times Literary Supplement, while Phil Baker, in the Sunday Times, described Royle as “a real craftsman of disquiet”. In his third collection, The Dummy & Other Uncanny Stories, Royle focuses on archetypes and phenomena that, through their particular melding of the familiar and the unfamiliar, produce uneasy, or uncanny, effects. In these stories he writes about doppelgängers, ghosts, dummies, disconnected body parts, impaired vision, the dead and the …

The House on the Borderland

The House on the Borderland

William Hope Hodgson

Published: April 2018

I am an old man. I live here in this ancient house, surrounded by huge, unkempt gardens.” An exiled recluse, an ancient abode in the remote west of Ireland, nightly attacks by malevolent swine-things from a nearby pit, and cosmic vistas beyond time and space. The House on the Borderland has been praised by China Miéville, Terry Pratchett, and Clark Ashton Smith, while H. P. Lovecraft wrote, “Few can equal [Hodgson] in adumbrating the nearness of nameless forces and monstrous besieging entities through casual hints and significant details, or in conveying feelings of the spectral and abnormal.” “Almost from the …

The Scarlet Soul

The Scarlet Soul

Mark Valentine (Editor)

Published: December 2017

“Yet it was watching him, with its beautiful marred face and its cruel smile.” – Oscar Wilde Art, obsession, love, lust, sorcery—ten contemporary writers respond to the imperishable themes of Oscar Wilde’s great Decadent romance, The Picture of Dorian Gray. What happens when a face, a form, an uncanny force changes everything we thought we knew? What survives of us when we stray into a borderland of the mind, where our deepest urges seem to call up remorseless powers? Whether in fantastic imaginary realms or in the gritty noir of today, these new stories, all especially written for this anthology, …

Selected Poems

Selected Poems

George William Russell

Published: April 2017

“Yet, bathed in gloom too long, we might / Forget how we imagined light.” Published in September 1935, just two months after his death, A.E wrote of Selected Poems, “If I should be remembered I would like it to be for the verses in this book. They are my choice out of the poetry I have written.” A.E.’s life-long friend and sometimes rival, W. B. Yeats, observed that his poetry expresses “something that lies beyond the range of expression”, and that he has within him “the vast and vague extravagance that lies at the bottom of the Celtic heart.” To …

Uncertainties 2

Uncertainties 2

Brian J. Showers (Editor)

Published: August 2016

“Omnia exeunt in mysterium.” – Arthur Machen “We think we know the world we live in, but we don’t—we very much don’t—and stories of the supernatural and strange, of the weird and the uncanny serve as a reminder of that.” – from the Foreword by Brian J. Showers Uncertainties is an anthology of new writing—featuring contributions from Irish, British, and American authors—each exploring the idea of increasingly fragmented senses of reality. These types of short stories were termed “strange tales” by Robert Aickman, called “tales of the unexpected” by Roald Dahl, and known to Shakespeare’s ill-fated Prince Mamillius as ‘winter’s …

Uncertainties 1

Uncertainties 1

Brian J. Showers (Editor)

Published: August 2016

“Turn and face the strange.” – David Bowie “It may be my own imagining, or perhaps the cumulative effect of reading the entire book over a couple of evenings, but the contents appeared to grow darker as the pages turned.” – from the Foreword by John Connolly Uncertainties is an anthology of new writing—featuring contributions from Irish, British, and American authors—each exploring the idea of increasingly fragmented senses of reality. These types of short stories were termed “strange tales” by Robert Aickman, called “tales of the unexpected” by Roald Dahl, and known to Shakespeare’s ill-fated Prince Mamillius as ‘winter’s tales’. …

The Pale Brown Thing

The Pale Brown Thing

Fritz Leiber

Published: July 2016

“The ancient Egyptians only buried people in their pyramids. We are living in ours.” – Thibaut de Castries Serialised in 1977, The Pale Brown Thing is a shorter version of Fritz Leiber’s World Fantasy Award-winning novel of the supernatural, Our Lady of Darkness. Leiber maintained that the two texts “should be regarded as the same story told at different times”; thus this volume reprints The Pale Brown Thing for the first time in nearly forty years, with an introduction by the author’s friend, Californian poet Donald Sidney-Fryer. The novella stands as Leiber’s vision of 1970s San Francisco: a city imbued …

Earth-Bound

Earth-Bound

Dorothy Macardle

Published: May 2016

“‘Tis these places are haunted,” he said, “by the old Chieftains and Kings.” Originally published in 1924, the nine tales that comprise Earth-Bound were written by Dorothy Macardle while she was held a political prisoner in Dublin’s Kilmainham Gaol and Mountjoy Prison. The stories incorporate themes that intrigued her throughout her life; themes out of the myths and legends of Ireland; ghostly interventions, dreams and premonitions, clairvoyance, and the Otherworld in parallel with this one. It is so easy to dismiss them, as some have, merely as part of the narrative of “Irish nationalism” of the time, but it is …

November Night Tales

November Night Tales

Henry C. Mercer

Published: November 2015

“History fades into prehistoric darkness . . . ” Each story in November Night Tales is a differently colored gem whose many facets reflect the lively mind of the author. Henry C. Mercer’s life-long interest in world mythology, fairy tales, local legend, symbols, and artifacts form the fabric of his tales. Here, the reader will find vanishing castles, secret sects, biological weapons, sinister wilderness, lycanthropy, possessed dolls, and mythical lands. The characters in each story are driven to explore the unknown, face their fears, and perhaps discover something of themselves in the process. The compelling narratives, infused with intelligence and …

Insect Literature

Insect Literature

Lafcadio Hearn

Published: October 2015

“The insect-world is altogether a world of goblins and fairies.” As Lafcadio Hearn observes in his essay “Insects in Greek Poetry”, “the capacity to enjoy the music of insects and all that it signifies in the great poem of nature tells very plainly of goodness of heart, aesthetic sensibility, a perfectly healthy state of mind.” And to this, one might add a keen sense of wonder. Insect Literature collects twenty essays and stories written by Hearn, mostly in Japan, a land where insects were as appreciated as in ancient Greece. With a witty gentleness bordering on the eerie, Hearn describes …

The Anniversary of Never

The Anniversary of Never

Joel Lane

Published: August 2015

“It was like a black and white film, or someone else’s memory.” Joel Lane’s award-winning stories have been widely praised, notably by other masters of weird fiction such as M. John Harrison, Graham Joyce, and Ramsey Campbell. His tales also regularly appeared in the “best of” annual anthologies of Ellen Datlow, Karl Edward Wagner, and Stephen Jones. With this posthumous collection, Lane continues his unflinching exploration of the human condition. “The Anniversary of Never is a group of tales concerned with the theme of the afterlife,” observed Lane, “and the idea that we may enter the afterlife before death, or …

The Satyr

The Satyr

Stephen J. Clark

Published: July 2015

“It was the straying that found the path direct.” – Austin Osman Spare In the final throes of the Blitz, Austin Osman Spare is the only salvation for Marlene, an artist escaping a traumatic past. Wandering Southwark’s ruins she encounters Paddy Hughes, a fugitive of another kind. Falling under Marlene’s spell Hughes agrees to seek out her lost mentor, the man she calls The Satyr. Yet Marlene’s past will not rest as the mysterious Doctor Charnock pursues them, trying to capture the patient she’d once caged. The Satyr is a tale inspired by the life and ethos of sorcerer and …

The Unfortunate Fursey

The Unfortunate Fursey

Mervyn Wall

Published: March 2015

“In Ireland anything may happen to anyone anywhere and at any time, and it usually does.” The forces of evil have launched a determined offensive on the sanctified precincts of Clonmacnoise, and gain a bridgehead in the cell of Brother Fursey. But the hapless monk is so tongue-tied with fright that he cannot utter the necessary words of exorcism. When the other monks discover this, poor Fursey is expelled, and sets forth on the first stage of his travels accompanied by a fantastic procession of cacodemons, hippogriffs, imps, furies, and other dreadful creatures, not to mention the elegant gentleman in …

The Return of Fursey

The Return of Fursey

Mervyn Wall

Published: March 2015

“Henceforth I will serve Evil. I’ll become a most depraved character. I’ll turn really wicked.” This worthy sequel to The Unfortunate Fursey follows the continued exploits of that reluctant sorcerer Fursey, now a middling grocer in the realm of King Ethelwulf. But when Fursey’s wife is seized by an Irish delegation led by her jilted fiancé, Fursey resolves to embrace evil, return to Ireland, and reclaim his wife. Readers will delight in the return of Fursey’s unhelpful familiar Albert and the Prince of Darkness; plus such memorable new characters as George the Vampire, Sigurd the Skull Splitter, and the wealthy …

Reminiscences of a Bachelor

Reminiscences of a Bachelor

Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu

Published: December 2014

“I know there is a God—a dreadful God—and that retribution follows guilt.” For the first time in over 150 years, “The Watcher”, Le Fanu’s classic tale of supernatural menace, is reissued from the pages of the Dublin University Magazine along with its original companion piece “The Fatal Bride”, a brooding gothic novella not reprinted since its first publication in 1848. Like matched duelling pistols, Reminiscences of a Bachelor offers the most exquisite balance of craftsmanship, beauty, and peril. In these tales of Old Dublin, honour is ever at stake, the fate of lovers lies mired in the past, and something …

Dreams of Shadow and Smoke

Dreams of Shadow and Smoke

Jim Rockhill and Brian J. Showers

Published: August 2014

“Perhaps other souls than human are sometimes born into the world, and clothed in human flesh.” – Uncle Silas With Henry James, Elizabeth Bowen, and James Joyce among his admirers, the ghost stories and novels of Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu (1814-1873) cast a long shadow on the literary landscape. Dreams of Shadow and Smoke features ten new tales of the fantastic and macabre written in celebration of the bicentenary of Dublin’s “Invisible Prince”. Revisit a world in which certain elixirs remain capable of awakening the mind to the presence of unknown forces; where the monuments, portraits, and other legacies of …

Seventeen Stories

Seventeen Stories

Mark Valentine

Published: October 2013

“The general effect was a bizarrerie of half-weird sheen and gloom.” – M.P. Shiel Mark Valentine’s stories have been described by critic Rick Kleffel as “consistently amazing and inexplicably beautiful”. He has been called “A superb writer, among the leading practitioners of classic supernatural fiction” by Michael Dirda of The Washington Post, and his work is regularly chosen for year’s best and other anthologies. This new selection offers previously uncollected or hard to find tales in the finest traditions of the strange and fantastic. As well as tributes to the masters of the field, Valentine provides his own original and …

The Sea Change

The Sea Change

Helen Grant

Published: February 2013

“Till human voices wake us, and we drown.” – T. S. Eliot In her first collection, award-winning author Helen Grant plumbs the depths of the uncanny: Ten fathoms down, where the light filtering through the salt water turns everything grey-green, something awaits unwary divers. A self-aggrandising art critic travelling in rural Slovakia finds love with a beauty half his age—and pays the price. In a small German town, a nocturnal visitor preys upon children; there is a way to keep it off—but the ritual must be perfect. A rock climber dares to scale a local crag with a diabolical reputation, …

Selected Stories

Selected Stories

Mark Valentine

Published: November 2012

“Nothing lasts! The faun sleeps, / Smiling, mute, remorseless.” – Ludmila Jevsejeva, Aŭtuna Melodio In St. Petersburg, amidst an uneasy truce with the revolution, there exists a secret trade in looted ikons. But who are the dark strangers seeking for the Gate of the Archangel? In the small town of Tzern, news arrives of the death of the Emperor; meanwhile a postmaster, a priest, a prophet and a war-wearied soldier watch the dawn for signs of the future. Constantinople: A quest for the lost faiths of the former Ottoman Empire leads a French scholar to believe that the strangest may …

Longsword

Longsword

Thomas Leland

Published: July 2012

“Death’s but a Path that must be trod, / If Man wou’d ever pass to God” – Thomas Parnell Longsword, Earl of Salisbury, by eighteenth century Dublin-born clergyman Thomas Leland, is a fast-paced historical romance of medieval menace and high excitement. Set in the early years of the thirteenth century, it features a blend of real and created characters in a mêlée of intrigue, corruption, lust, and revenge. In part a metaphor for the tug-of-war between the sexes, Longsword is the definitive precursor to the Gothic novel; both in trappings and in style, it provides vital elements of prototype for …

Strange Epiphanies

Strange Epiphanies

Peter Bell

Published: April 2012

“Man is made a mystery for mysteries and visions . . . ” – Arthur Machen A mentally disturbed woman is entrapped in Beltane rituals in the Cumbrian fells; a widower mourning his wife falls beneath the mystic allure of Iona; a quest to the Italian Apennines brings a lonely man to a dread Marian revelation; an alcoholic on a Scottish isle is haunted by a deceased chronicler of local legend; in a small German town a sinister doll discloses truths about a murky family tragedy; an unknown journal by a Victorian travel-writer sends a woman on a grim odyssey …

Ghosts

Ghosts

R. B. Russell

Published: February 2012

“I can barely conceive of a type of beauty in which there is no Melancholy.” – Charles Baudelaire Ghosts contains R. B. Russell’s debut publications, Putting the Pieces in Place and Bloody Baudelaire. Enigmatic and enticing, they combine a respect for the great tradition of supernatural fiction, with a chilling contemporary European resonance. With original and compelling narratives, Russell’s stories offer the reader insights into the more hidden, often puzzling, impulses of human nature, with all its uncertainty and intrigue. There are few conventional shocks or horrors on display, but you are likely to come away with the feeling that …

Curfew

Curfew

Lucy M. Boston

Published: September 2011

“His eye sockets were appallingly hollow, and he lifted his chin as the blind do when they seek.” Lucy M. Boston is best remembered today as the Carnegie Medal-winning author of a series of children’s novels set in Green Knowe, an ancient, haunted house based on Hemingford Grey Manor near Huntingdon, Cambridge. She began writing these chilling tales when she was already in her sixties, but they were not her first attempts at fiction. A handful of supernatural tales dating from the early 1930s exist among her papers, and these are here published together for the first time, along with …

The Old Knowledge

The Old Knowledge

Rosalie Parker

Published: September 2010

“Make the reader think the evil, make him think it for himself . . .” – Henry James This first collection of tales by Rosalie Parker contains eight stories that explore the uncanny in the modern world. As Glen Cavaliero observes in his introduction, “like all good stories of the preternatural, these in The Old Knowledge have a subversive effect.” In them, “the world of logical, predictable reality is seen to be at risk from rejected modes of knowledge which can thwart the materialist and victimise those innocents who stumble into another order of reality.” In “The Rain”, Geraldine heads …