The supernatural stories of Edward Lucas White (1866-1934) represent a classic body of work in horror and dark fiction. Reprinted by Dover Publications, with an exhaustive, interesting introduction by S.T. Joshi, thirteen among his most famous stories are now assembled in an elegant trade paperback not to be missed by fans of the weird and the horrific.
Readers already familiar with White’s works will have the opportunity to rediscover some classics such as “Lukundoo” (a strong, sinister, unsettling tale of exotic witchcraft), “The Song of the Sirens” (a dream-like example of a disquieting sea story), “Sorcery Island” (a well-crafted tale of white sorcery), as well as other little gems to enjoy.
“House of Nightmare” is a traditional ghost story that revisits the subject of the haunted house; while “The Flambeau Bracket” is a tense, thrilling piece of sheer terror where a man recollects an episode from his youth that changed his life for ever; and “The Stout” is a suspenseful dark story in which two thieves entering an empty mansion discover a scary truth.
Obviously, not all the material is top notch. For instance, “The Pig-skin Belt” — an overlong and somehow hazy tale featuring a man obsessed with a supernatural menace, remains (at least to me) rather unaccomplished.
On the other hand, a couple of less widely known stories are of very high quality. “Amina” is an extraordinary piece of exotic horror, portraying a dangerous female creature hungry for human flesh, while “The Message on the Slate” is an outstanding, complex supernatural story addressing the mysteries of the paranormal as experienced by a skeptical, fake clairvoyant.
All in all, an excellent collection. Highly recommended.