The House of Souls

A Fragment of Life / The White People / The Great God Pan / The Inmost Light • Arthur Machen 226 pages, paperback ISBN 9789492355218 (click for preview)

The House of Souls is a collection of four masterpieces of horror and mystery, by Arthur Machen, first collectively published in 1906. 
A Fragment of Life tells of a young couple, the Darnells, living in a London suburb. Machen gives an enormous amount of detail to illustrate the Darnells’ life only to convince the reader (and Mr. Darnell) that this is  just a fragment of life or part of a greater, but hidden reality. 
The White People was written in the late 1890s, and first published in 1904 in Horlick’s Magazine. A discussion between two men on the nature of evil, leads one of them to reveal a mysterious Green Book he possesses. It’s a young girl’s diary, in which she describes in ingenuous, evocative prose her strange impressions of the countryside in which she lives, as well as conversations with her nurse, who initiates her into a secret world of folklore and ritual magic…
The Great God Pan was widely denounced by the press, on publication in 1894, as degenerate and horrific because of its decadent style and sexual content. Today it is recognised as one of the greatest classics of horror. Machen’s story was only one of many at the time to focus on the Greek God Pan as a useful symbol for the power of nature and paganism. 
The Inmost Light involves a doctor’s scientific experiments into occultism, and a vampiric force instigated by his unrelenting curiosity regarding the unseen elements. A mysterious gemstone is the vampire mediator, soaking the soul of the doctor’s wife and replacing it with something demonic. Dr. Black his own energy is then gradually sucked up by the stone too. In attempting to enter the forbidden and dark zone of the other worldly…

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