The Black Spaniel and Other Strange Stories (Stark House, November 1, 2023)
Stark House has performed an extraordinary service for lovers of classic weird fiction with their excellent line of Stark House Supernatural Classics, which has returned forgotten tales by Algernon Blackwood, Robert W. Chambers, and many others into print in handsome and inexpensive paperback editions. They’ve produced more than a dozen titles over the last seventeen years, with no sign of slowing.
Stark House doesn’t specialize in supernatural fiction. Their bread and butter is their Black Gat Book line, which includes dozens of classic crime novels. They also have a terrific Film Noir Classic imprint, Stark House Crime Classics, and an extensive Stark House Science Fiction catalog, which includes titles by Mike Ashley, Storm Constantine, Barry Malzberg, Bill Pronzini, and many others.
These days I tend to be interested in overlooked writers, and recently that includes the prolific Robert Hichens, who wrote primarily in the late 19th and early 20th Centuries, and who produced a great deal of celebrated weird fiction. Stark House has produced three collections of his short work, including The Black Spaniel and Other Strange Stories, published just last week.
Michael Dirda at The Washington Post was the first to tweak me to this book, in an October 6th article on a dozen Favorite Horror and Weird Tales.
To many ghost-story readers, Robert Hichens is no more than the author of “How Love Came to Professor Guildea,” in which an invisible entity grows creepily, physically affectionate. Yet Hichens, immensely prolific, wrote many fine tales of the uncanny. Take the title novella in The Black Spaniel and Other Strange Stories, a collection of his supernatural fiction edited by S.T. Joshi for Stark House Press. In this morally ambiguous conte cruel, death is no obstacle when a sensitive animal lover seeks to avenge the physical abuse of a pet dog.
I’m not familiar with “How Love Came to Professor Guildea,” but it was included in the second of two Stark House collections, published last year and this March, Snake-Bite and Other Mystery Tales of the Sahara, and How Love Came to Professor Guildea and Other Uncanny Tales.
Previous Robert Hichens titles from Stark House: Snake-Bite and
Other Mystery Tales of the Sahara (November 28, 2022), and
How Love Came to Professor Guildea and Other Uncanny Tales (March 2, 2023)
Stark House Supernatural Classics are perfect for folks (like me) interested in sampling the best uncanny fiction from the last two centuries, without paying for expensive limited edition hardcovers.
I haven’t found a definitive list of the entire line, so I’m compiled a (likely incomplete) list of my own.
The Lost Valley/The Wolves of God, Algernon Blackwood (March 13, 2006)
The Slayer of Souls/The Maker of Moons, Robert W. Chambers (April 18, 2014)
The Face of the Earth and Other Imaginings, Algernon Blackwood (March 31, 2015)
The King in Yellow/The Mystery of Choice, Robert W. Chambers (July 28, 2015)
The Human Chord/The Centaur, Algernon Blackwood (March 31, 2016)
Ancient Egyptian Supernatural Tales, edited by Jonathan E. Lewis (July 15, 2016)
John Silence, Physician Extraordinary/The Wave, Algernon Blackwood (October 13, 2017)
In Search of the Unknown/Police!!!, Robert W. Chambers (October 13, 2017)
The Tracer of Lost Persons/The Tree of Heaven, Robert W. Chambers (December 8, 2017)
Strange Island Stories, edited by Jonathan E. Lewis (March 26, 2018)
The Promise of Air/The Garden of Survival, Algernon Blackwood (July 13, 2018)
Tongues of Fire and Other Sketches, Algernon Blackwood (January 18, 2020)
How Love Came to Professor Guildea and Other Uncanny Tales by Robert Hichens (March 2, 2023)
I haven’t read them all, but so far my favorites are the two anthologies edited by Jonathan E. Lewis, Ancient Egyptian Supernatural Tales (2016) and Strange Island Stories (2018), which include stories (from Weird Tales and like venues) by Louisa May Alcott, Arthur Conan Doyle, Bram Stoker, Tennessee Williams, H. Rider Haggard, Frank Belknap Long, E. Hoffmann Price, Algernon Blackwood, Sax Rohmer, M.P. Shiel, George MacDonald, Robert Louis Stevenson, H. P. Lovecraft, Henry S. Whitehead, Jack London, and many others.
Other Stark House Supernatural Classics: The Slayers of Souls/The Maker of Moons
by Robert W. Chambers (2014), John Silence and The Wave by Algernon Blackwood (2017),
and Strange Island Stories, edited by Jonathan E. Lewis (2017)
Our previous Stark House coverage includes:
The Stark House Algernon Blackwood, edited by Mike Ashley (2019)
Ghosts, Pirates, and Sea-faring Werewolves: Strange Island Stories, edited by Jonathan E. Lewis (2018)
John Silence – Physician Extraordinary / The Wave by Algernon Blackwood (2017)
Ancient Egyptian Supernatural Tales, edited by Jonathan E. Lewis (2016)
The Human Chord/The Centaur by Algernon Blackwood (2016)
Haunted Bushes, Serial Killers, and Mysterious Strangers: Algernon Blackwood’s The Listener and Other Stories by William I. Lengeman III (2016)
Thief of Midnight and Fell the Angels by Catherine Butzen (2015)
Underlay by Barry N. Malzberg (2015)
The Astonished Eye by Tracy Knight (2015)
Check out the Stark House website here.
I’ve never read anything by Robert Hichens before, and this weekend, as the last leaves fall off the trees in our backyard, I’m looking forward to settling into my big green chair with The Black Spaniel and Other Strange Stories and seeing what he has to offer.
The Black Spaniel and Other Strange Stories was published by Stark House Press on November 1, 2023. It is 256 pages, priced at $15.95 in trade paperback and $5.99 in digital formats.
See all our recent New Treasures here.