Tuesday 12 November 2013

Lurkers in the Abyss & The Vault of Evil

Kevin Demont (known to all and sundry as Demonik) who runs the Vault of Evil has started a special thread on that site with an ongoing summary and critique of my collection, The Lurkers in the Abyss.

"With a novel and umpteen collections on the go, swore I'd resist even the tiniest peek at this for time being, but, you know, Mr. Sutton's typically informative introduction only runs to four pages, what harm can it do, etc. It was the fatal reference to the theme of Writer's Cramp cracked my resolve ....

After Nightfall: Cheery anthropologist Elliot Wilderman arrives in the decrepit hamlet of Heron to room at the solitary inn. His generosity at the bar soon wins over the taciturn locals, and in no time he has accumulated much valuable data pertaining to local tradition and legend. But still one mystery remains. Why do the populace hide themselves away behind stout locks at nightfall, and, stranger still, what's with the plates of raw meat they leave outside their doors? His landlady, Mrs. Jowitt, cautions him to do as they do, stay indoors nights and avoid the mouldering huts on the edge of town, but Mr. Wilderman is of nosey disposition. A fog descends on Heron. What harm can it do to lean out of his window and watch for those who come to claim their meal?

The title story is perhaps better known, but for this reader, After Nightfall is Mr. Riley's 'seventies masterpiece. The author likely had the typical Lovecraft New England setting in mind for his location, but, for me, Heron anticipates Chetwynd-Hayes' Loughville.

Writer's Cramp: With a deadline impending and the new issue still eight pages shy of completion, Cartwright-Hughes, slimy literary editor of Digest of Horror magazine, plagiarises the plot of a submission from unknown author A. J. Dymchurch of Oswaldtwistle, Lancs. Rubbish writer he may be, but Dymchurch is an accomplished Black Magician, and, unless he receives a very public apology, Cartwright-Hughes is for the chop.

Out of Corruption: Set in 1934, very Lovecraftian in feel but - mercifully - minus any Cthulhu Mythos overkill. Our narrator, Raymond Gregory pays a visit to his friend John Poole who has recently moved to the grim and depressing Elm Tree House in Fenley Wood. Poole, an occult dabbler, gives Gregory the guided tour and the more his guest sees of the place, the less he likes it. The house gives off terrible vibes, most notably the pentagram of slime in the cellar. Neither is he over-keen on the tramp-like fellow who has taken to prowling nightly in the garden.

Gregory learns from local librarian Desmond Foster that Elm Tree House was built on the site of a 13th Century Abbey torn down when the locals discovered the Holy Fathers were worshippers of Satan. The Monks were the lucky ones - they were merely slaughtered on the spot. The Abbot was half-hung, disembowelled and quartered alive. His last sneered utterance - "The dead rise and come to me" - suggests he didn't mind such treatment in the slightest. His gibbeted remains mysteriously disappeared that same night.

With Poole reduced to a gibbering imbecile, it's obvious to Foster and Gregory that their friend's foolish meddling in the dark arts has revived the Abbot and his rotting accomplices. The worst news is, the Abbot firmly believes in taking his revenge in kind ...

No comments:

Post a Comment