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Carnacki: The New Adventures Paperback – December 19, 2013
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- Publisher : Ulthar Press (December 19, 2013)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 230 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0615943004
- ISBN-13 : 978-0615943008
- Item Weight : 11.2 ounces
- Dimensions : 6 x 0.52 x 9 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #1,656,643 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- #52,152 in Horror Literature & Fiction
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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I read a book called ‘Carnacki the new adventures’. Prior to this I had no experience with the character at all. It was a total enigma wrapped up in a question mark to me. Carnacki is an early 20th century paranormal detective. Think Sherlock Holmes but with real things that go bump in the night.
I have to say I was unprepared for how much I liked this book. It was a breath of fresh air for me and something completely different. I was actually totally drawn into this book and enjoyed everything about it.
Sure there were some stories that were better than others, but all in all it was just great stuff. This was an anthology by all different writers, but generally the stories were all very good to excellent. There were two very familiar names in there, at least to me. I know Jim Beard and Robert Pohle. As I expected both men wrote excellent tales of ‘Carnacki the Ghost Finder’. I so enjoyed this volume that I’m considering tracking down the original Carnacki tales written a hundred years ago.
If you like supernatural tales with an ‘everyman’ type of hero then this one is for you. I really enjoyed this book.
What better way to open such a collection than with a story by William Meikle, the author who has written more new Carnacki tales than any other? I reviewed his Carnacki collection—‘Carnacki: Heaven and Hell’, here. His story in this volume, ‘Carnacki: Captain Gault’s Nemesis’, has William Hope Hodgson’s other series character seek him out for help with a cargo, which has been causing him serious trouble since he picked it up in Corfu. William Meikle is very adept at writing Lovecraftian stories, while avoiding name-dropping various books, races, or entities most regularly associated with the Cthulhu Mythos. This is just such a tale. An excellent start to the collection.
I recently suggested to both William Meikle and Josh Reynolds that they should collaborate on a story telling how Carnacki came to pass on the mantle of “Royal Occultist” to St. Cyprian—Josh Reynolds’ own occult detective creation. Little did I realise at that time that Josh Reynolds had already detailed the first meeting between the two in ‘Monmouth’s Giants’—the second story in this collection. It’s not all that uncommon for heroes to start out anything but heroic, only to be set on the right path by a traumatic event, and this is pretty much what happens to young Charles St. Cyprian here. It’s only the beginning, though, and I’m sure Messrs. Meikle and Reynolds might have more to tell us about the meeting of these two men.
‘A Gaslight Horror’, by P.V. Ross was an interesting idea for a story, which owes a lot to ‘Casting of the Runes’, by M.R. James. I liked it well enough, but felt it could have been slightly more substantial, especially when you consider that the first page and a half simply detail fairly irrelevant events that occurred before the traditional dinner and storytelling at Carnacki’s home.
I liked Robert Pohl’s ‘Carnacki and the President’s Vampire’ a lot. While I found the idea of a group of Native American Indians, in full regalia, knocking on Carnacki’s door a little unlikely, this was the era when Buffalo Bill Cody’s Wild West show hit London, so it’s not beyond the realms of possibility. I found the character of Fire Dog, a very well-educated Native American who speaks perfect English, fascinating and found myself wondering if Robert Pohl might have written other tales featuring this unusual character. I rather hope he has. The story itself involves a meteor and is full of references to the works of Herbert George Wells, who also makes an appearance in the story.
‘The Spar: A Story of Carnacki’ by Fred Blosser, like William Meikle’s story earlier in the book, ties in William Hope Hodgson’s non-Carnacki work. This time it’s a sequel of sorts to ‘The Ghost Pirates’, as a piece of the ill-fated cargo ship, Mortzestus, finds its way into a humble shop in Bow Street.
There’s some deliciously creepy imagery in Robert E. Jefferson’s ‘The Braes of the Blackstarr’. I will not soon forget the scene where a man opens the shadow of a window with the shadow of his hand. It would make a very creepy TV play. Some of the technology referred to gave me pause, but I checked and the author has done his research; there’s nothing in the story that didn’t exist in that period. On this occasion, Carnacki is limited to finding out what happened, rather than taking an especially active role, and is more of an “occult detective” for it.
‘The Magician’s Study’, by Buck Weiss is one of my favourites in the book. A magician’s wife calls in Carnacki when her recently deceased husband makes his presence once again known. There’s a nice twist in the tale here.
On that seemingly endless list of authors, whose work I was aware of, but had yet to read, was one Charles R. Rutledge. I know the man through Facebook, in fact he helps me run a Facebook group dedicated to classic ghost stories, so I was very interested indeed to find he had contributed a story to this anthology. ‘How They Met Themselves’ turns out to be a very worthy addition to the Carnacki canon. While, on the one hand, the author dispenses with the usual framing sequence of the gathering of Carnacki’s friends to hear his stories, he does actually remember an idiosyncrasy of Carnacki’s, in the way that he periodically checks if the people he’s talking to grasp his meaning. A Druid circle, doppelgängers and even a sly reference to Manly Wade Wellman’s occult investigator, John Thunstone—what more could you ask for?
Considering the quality of some of the authors in this collection, it’s really saying something when I claim, at this point, that Jim Beard, in ‘The Haunting of Tranquil House’, possibly captures Carnacki’s character and mannerisms better than most. I was especially intrigued by the fact that Carnacki, having sorted out the problem at hand, has some concerns about something he saw while in a death-like trance, that could just possibly indicate that Jim Beard has more Carnacki tales in the offing.
Amy K. Marshall’s ‘The Ghosts of Kuskulana’ is on the one hand a well-told, scary ghost story, but on the other hand, I found myself questioning whether, or not it was a Carnacki story. I felt that it must take place early in Carnacki’s career for several reasons. Firstly, he tells the story to friends over drinks, but it’s not his usual group of friends, and they’re not at Carnacki’s house. We never get to hear the name of the host, but he refers to Carnacki by his Christian name, which would again suggest he’s not one of the regulars. Secondly, Carnacki blindly enters a case, with absolutely no preparation, and while he does discover the facts behind the problem, he doesn’t actually do anything, other than give himself a severe fright. I did like the story, but I’d probably have liked it better, had it been a stand alone ghost story, with no Carnacki involvement.
I could easily have assumed by this point, that I’d already read the best story in the book, but Robert M. Price managed to prove me wrong. His capturing of the style of the original tales, and the quirks and idiosyncrasies of Carnacki’s character and speech are flawless. In ‘A Job For Carnacki’, the author makes good use of his knowledge as a professor of biblical criticism to craft a tale of a beleaguered priest. Those familiar with Robert M. Price’s work will not be surprised that there’s also a hint of the Lovecraftian about this story. This may well be my favourite ever Carnacki pastiche.
M.J. Starling doesn’t stoop to mere hints. His contribution has the words, ‘(after William Hope Hodgson and H.P. Lovecraft)’ right there, under his byline. I use the word “contribution”, rather than story, as ‘An Audience With the Ghost-Finder’ is in the form of a script for a play. I’m generally not too keen on reading such things, but I have to admit I really enjoyed this one. The Lovecraftian element isn’t really any more pronounced than in several other tales in this collection—there are none of those name-dropped entities, or tomes—which many modern day Lovecraftians tend to view as laziness in the authors of many modern pastiches—but the theme of a family, preyed on for generations by an entity from beyond our reality is very much in the territory of H.P. Lovecraft. I read in the author biography that this play has actually been performed a couple of times. I’m sorry I missed it. Perhaps another opportunity will present itself.
All in all, this is an excellent collection. I was especially pleased that one of the stories, and I’m not going to say which one, turned out to have no genuine supernatural involvement, which is in keeping with Hodgson’s original canon. Most modern authors appear to be disinterested in writing Carnacki stories that turn out to have a mundane explanation, but I’ve always felt that trying to guess whether the explanation for the events of a particular story will be turn out to be genuinely supernatural, or not, is an important element in the enjoyment of a good Carnacki tale.
Each story begins with a dinner invitation from Carnacki and after a generous meal the guests and himself enjoy drinks and smokes as he recounts his adventures. Each author brings a different take to the character, but all stories present the character as he has always been. Also each one is rich in Lovecraftian atmosphere.
Usually with collections I'd go through each tale and rattle off my favorites, but with this collection I found all the tales, enjoyable to read. For fans of Carnacki The Ghost Finder or newbies to the character "Carnacki: The New Adventures" is a must read.
Top reviews from other countries
I won't bother outlining the plots of the various stories , because they all share the same characteristics-little imagination, no wit, heavy on cliché and poorly written.
And when I say poorly written I mean at a very basic level. Bad grammar, clumsy sentence construction and even wrong vocabulary. If you don't know what a word means, don't use it.
And the voice is all wrong. It's a fake 'old Englishness' with archaic vocabulary and convoluted sentences that has Carnacki sounding like the Hollywood idea of a pretentious, slightly demented seventeenth century fop; certainly not an Edwardian Englishman.
It feels to me like a book put together in a hurry, written by people who'd only skim-read the originals.
The only good thing about it is that struggling through it did prompt me to re-read the William Hope Hodgson tales. Tales that show that even 'mere' ghost stories can have real literary quality.
Accept no imitations!
Für Komplettisten interessant, mehr aber auch nicht...
Beginning with a brief but informative ‘Introduction’ from Sam Gifford, the book contains the following works: -
1. “Carnacki: Captain Gault’s Nemesis” by William Meikle: Meikle has been one of the finest practitioners of the particular type of storytelling that combines rip-roaring action, mind-numbing terror, and polished club-like narratives. This story is another standout example of such storytelling.
2. “Monmouth’s Giants” by Josh Reynolds: One of the best stories of this superior anthology, this book deals with giants indeed, as we get too know not only about another adventure of Carnacki, but also about a rakish young knight who hides a steel under his fluffy exterior.
3. “A Gaslight Horror” by P.V. Ross: One of the more staidly told, but quite frightful stories of this collection. Predictable, but good.
4. “Carnacki and the President’s Vampire” by Robert Pohle: A wonderful story full of action, gothic fear, science fictional elements, Red Indians, and Theodore Roosevelt! If this doesn’t get full ratings, I ought to chew my hat.
5. “The Spar: A Story of Carnacki” by Fred Blosser: A solid horror story involving haunting, monstrosities, and possibilities of more stories out of “The Ghost Pirates”.
6. “The Braes of the Blackstarr” by Robert E. Jefferson: One of the most gothic, haunting, and disturbing stories of this collection, this one kept a lot of questions unanswered, but not unsatisfactorily, rather deliciously, asking the reader to fill up the gaps, while imagining themselves against that bleak & chilling backdrop.
7. “The Magician’s Study” by Buck Weiss: A brilliant murder mystery, with Carnacki thrown into the mix.
8. “How They Met Themselves” by Charles R. Rutledge: Another excellent story involving ancient mysteries, doppelgängers, and Carnacki riding to the rescue.
9. “The Haunting of Tranquil House” by Jim Beard: This melancholic story of pain, loss, and death tunes closer to Sgt. Janus stories than that of Carnacki, and left me rather wanting.
10. “The Ghosts of Kuskulana” by Amy K. Marshall: This story, although involving Carnacki, was the most un-Carnackian story of this collection. I enjoyed it immensely, nevertheless.
11. “A Job for Carnacki” by Robert M. Price: A compact, thrilling story.
12. “Audience with the Ghost-Finder” by M.J. Starling: This drama is a little gem that needs to be savoured slowly, after one rushes through it, to appreciate all the Lovecraftian concepts incorporated into it, and how it seamlessly merges into the realm of Hodgson & Carnacki, with a little bit of Holmesiana thrown in.
Overall, I immensely enjoyed this collection. What about you?