William Hope Hodgson is almost unique among his contemporaries: his most famous novels, The House on the Borderland and The Night Land, have been continuously in print for the better part of the last hundred years. H.P. Lovecraft described The Night Land, first published in 1912, as “one of the most potent pieces of macabre imagination ever written.”
But Hodgson wrote many other highly-respected works of horror and dark fantasy, and here his publication history is a little more spotty. Perhaps chief among them are the tales of Carnacki The Ghost Finder, a supernatural detective who came up against horrors that would have made Van Helsing blanche. I’m pleased to say that the Wordsworth Tales of Mystery And The Supernatural have not let us down, and in 2006 they brought the complete collection back in print in a handsome and inexpensive edition.
“‘I saw something terrible rising up through the middle of the ‘defence’. It rose with a steady movement. I saw it pale and huge through the whirling funnel of cloud – a monstrous pallid snout rising out of that unknowable abyss. It rose higher and higher. Through a thinning of the cloud I saw one small eye… a pig’s eye with a sort of vile understanding shining at the back of it.”
Thomas Carnacki is a ghost finder, an Edwardian psychic detective, investigating a wide range of terrifying hauntings presented in the nine stories in this complete collection… Encountering such spine-chilling phenomena as ‘The Whistling Room’, the life-threatening dangers of the phantom steed in ‘The Horse of the Invisible’ and the demons from the outside world in ‘The Hog’, Carnacki is constantly challenged by spiritual forces beyond our knowledge. To complicate matters, he encounters human skullduggery also. Armed with a camera, his Electric Pentacle and various ancient tomes on magic, Carnacki faces the various dangers his supernatural investigations present with great courage.
Josh Reynolds explored the career of Carnacki The Ghost Finder in greater detail as part of The Nightmare Men series last year.
This is the fourth volume in the Wordsworth Tales of Mystery And The Supernatural collection we’ve covered here, after The Beast with Five Fingers by W.F. Harvey, The Power of Darkness — Tales of Terror, by Edith Nesbit, and Alice and Claude Askew’s Aylmer Vance, The Ghost-Seer. There’s plenty more to come, so stay tuned.
The Casebook of Carnacki The Ghost Finder by William Hope Hodgson was published in 2006 by Wordsworth Editions. It is 191 pages in paperback priced at $6.99. There is no digital edition.