It’s beginning to look like Halloween will be a “dark and stormy night” for much of the East Coast this year, with a paucity of mini-ghouls and goblins knocking at the door. In fact, some of our BVC authors and many BVC friends may be reading by candlelight that night.
For them, and for anyone who would like a lights-out reading thrill, I highly recommend getting acquainted (or re-acquainted) with William Hope Hodgson, who’s unlikely to come knocking at your door, seeing that his career as a writer of supernatural horror—and his life—ended in the mundane horror of the Great War. In the preceding eleven years he had produced an oeuvre about which H. P. Lovecraft commented, in his essay Supernatural Horror in Literature :
“Of rather uneven stylistic quality, but vast occasional power in its suggestion of lurking worlds and beings behind the ordinary surface of life, is the work of William Hope Hodgson, known today far less than it deserves to be. Despite a tendency toward conventionally sentimental conceptions of the universe, and of man’s relation to it and to his fellows, Mr. Hodgson is perhaps second only to Algernon Blackwood in his serious treatment of unreality. Few can equal him in adumbrating the nearness of nameless forces and monstrous besieging entities through casual hints and insignificant details, or in conveying feelings of the spectral and the abnormal in connection with regions or buildings.”
There, quite concisely, is a clue to what you’ll encounter if you dip into Hodgson’s books—although it’s best to be careful what you start with, especially if you’re not enamored of Edwardian prose. I recommend Carnacki, the Ghost Finder, a collection originally serialized in The Idler. You could also call it “Ripping Ghost Stories” for the enthusiasm and purple-tinged prose. It’s a quick read. But I guarantee that, with Carnacki, you will encounter things that you will never forget. When Hodgson is good, he’s unbeatable. Continue reading