Ghosts, Pirates, and Sea-Faring Werewolves: Strange Island Stories, edited by Jonathan E. Lewis
I really enjoyed Jonathan E. Lewis’ previous Star House Supernatural Classics anthology, Ancient Egyptian Supernatural Tales, which I talked about here. Lewis is a true connoisseur of early spooky fiction, and he’s doing the kind of work that virtually no one else is right now — compiling classic pulp (and pre-pulp) adventure and horror tales into handsome packages for a modern audience.
So I was surprised and pleased to open my mail recently and find a review copy of a brand new Lewis anthology, Strange Island Stories. (And I was just as pleased to find this quote on an inside page devoted to Ancient Egyptian Supernatural Tales: “Lewis has done a fine job assembling a stellar line-up of dark fantasy and horror stories featuring mummies, curses, ancient Egyptian vampires, and lots more.” — Black Gate.) In his introduction to his latest volume Jonathan explains how he’s divided the contents.
I have chosen to divide Strange Island Stories into four distinct sections. The first, GHOSTS AND SHAPE SHIFTERS, includes classic ghost stories, tales of lycanthropy and werewolves, and supernatural tales set on islands… The second section, BIZARRE CREATURES AND FANTASTIC REALMS, includes short stories in which bizarre animal and plant life play an important role… The third section, HUMAN HORRORS, as its title indicates, includes works that are not necessarily “weird” but are nonetheless horrific and deeply strange. Readers might find these stories, all of which evoke a sense of foreboding dread, to be deeply chilling. Among the stories included in this section is George G. Toudouze’s lighthouse story “Three Skeleton Key,” a story that was adapted three times into a chillingly effective radio show. The fourth and final section of Strange Island Stories includes an original work of short fiction I have written entitled “An Adriatic Awakening.”
The anthology includes stories by M.P. Shiel, John Buchan, George MacDonald, Algernon Blackwood, Arthur Conan Doyle, Francis Stevens, Robert Louis Stevenson, H. P. Lovecraft, Henry S. Whitehead, Jack London and nine others.
In addition to the fiction, there’s also lengthy and fascinating introductions to each story by Lewis, which greatly sharpened my anticipation for the tales — and also included interesting tidbits such as the fact that Edward Bulwer (“Monos and Daimonos”) is better known as Edward Bulwer-Lytton, author of not one but two timeless phrases: “The pen is mightier than the sword,” and “It was a dark and stormy night.” And that Algernon Blackwood’s “The Camp of the Dog” first appeared in his first John Silence collection.
Here’s the complete TOC.
GHOSTS AND SHAPE SHIFTERS
“Monos and Daimonos” by Edward Bulwer (New Monthly Magazine, May 1830)
“Hugenin’s Wife” by M.P. Shiel (The Pale Ape and Other Pulses, 1911)
“The Far Islands” by John Buchan (Blackwood’s Magazine, 1899)
“The Ship That Saw a Ghost” by Frank Norris (A Deal in Wheat and Other Tales of the New and Old West, 1903)
“The Gray Wolf” by George MacDonald (Works of Fantasy and Imagination, 1871)
“The Camp of the Dog” by Algernon Blackwood (John Silence: Physician Extraordinary, 1908)
“Island of Ghosts” by Julian Hawthorne (All Story Weekly, April 13, 1918)
BIZARRE CREATURES AND FANTASTIC REALMS
“The Fiend of the Cooperage” by Arthur Conan Doyle (The Manchester Weekly Times, October 1st 1897)
“Spirit Island” by Henry Toke Munn (Chambers Journal, November 1922)
“The Purple Terror” by Fred M. White (The Strand Magazine, September 1899)
“Friend Island” by Francis Stevens (All-Story Weekly, 1918)
“In the Land of Tomorrow” by Epes Winthrop Sargent (The Ocean, December 1907 and January 1908)
“The Isle of Voices” by Robert Louis Stevenson (Island Night’s Entertainment, 1893)
“Dagon” by H. P. Lovecraft (The Vagrant, November 1919)
“The People of Pan” by Henry S. Whitehead (Weird Tales, March 1929)
“The Sixth Gargoyle” by David Eynon (Weird Tales, January 1951)
“Three Skeleton Key” by George G. Toudouze (Esquire, January 1937)
“Good-by Jack” by Jack London (The House of Pride and Other Tales of Hawaii, 1912)
“The Isle of Doom” by James Francis Dwyer (The Popular Magazine, Apr 15 1910)
“An Adriatic Awakening” by Jonathan E. Lewis
Notes for Further Reading
Strange Island Stories will be published by Stark House Press on March 26, 2018. It is 349 pages, priced at $19.95 in trade paperback. There is no digital edition. The cover is by JT Lindroos. Order directly from the Stark House website here.
Stark House has done tireless work bringing classic supernatural and weird fiction back into print. Previous books in the Stark House Classics lines include:
Ancient Egyptian Supernatural Tales, edited by Jonathan E. Lewis
John Silence–Physician Extraordinary / The Wave by Algernon Blackwood
The Human Chord and The Centaur by Algernon Blackwood
The Empty House and The Listener by Algernon Blackwood
Thief of Midnight and Fell the Angels by Catherine Butzen
Underlay by Barry N. Malzberg
The Astonished Eye by Tracy Knight
See all our recent New Treasures here.
I’m a big fan of STARK HOUSE books. Like you, I enjoyed Ancient Egyptian Supernatural Tales as well as this new Strange Island Stories anthology.
Glad to hear that, Kally. Do you have any favorite tales from STRANGE ISLAND STORIES?
:”Dagon” by Lovecraft is a classic. I also enjoyed “The Isle of the Doomed” by James Francis Dwyer.
I had forgotten how short Dagon is. I wasn’t familiar with “The Isle of Doom,” and I haven’t gotten that far in the book yet…. but I’m looking forward to it!
“Dagon” is very atmospheric and suggests where Lovecraft would take his Mythos. I hope STARK HOUSE continues to publish fine anthologies like ANCIENT EGYPTIAN SUPERNATURAL TALES and STRANGE ISLAND STORIES.
This is so cool! Another great find from BLACK GATE. John, would you happen to know the process behind the story selection, as in,pre- a certain date or simply public domain?
If I’d read Jonathan’s introduction more carefully, I probably would know. I suspect it’s chiefly limited to public domain stories. The David Eynon tale from Weird Tales (January 1951) is the most recent story in the book, if that tells you anything. I’ll have a look when I get home tonight.