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Conjure Wife Paperback – 29 Sep 2009

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Product details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Orb Books (29 Sept. 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0765324067
  • ISBN-13: 978-0765324061
  • Product Dimensions: 14 x 1.3 x 21.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 892,107 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 5 April 1997
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Where to start?
Both Conjure Wife and Our Lady of Darkness are masterpeices of supernatural fiction. Conjure Wife, written by Fritz Leiber in the 1940's, is both frightening and thought-provoking, it is also suprisingly up to date. The proposition that all women are witches and utterly control their husbands lives is followed through in a very personal narrative. Don't be put off by the film versions (particularly Night of The Eage, aka Burn Witch Burn), this is a complex story which has an eerie power akin to his famous story 'Smoke Ghost'.

Our Lady of Darkness, was written by Fritz Leiber in the late seventies and is one of his finest novels. Autobiographical (the location, the alcoholism and the loss of his wife are all based on fact) and thus very upsetting in parts. It weaves a magical vision of modern urban horror, a theme that he used throughout his career.
At the centre of the book lies horror fiction itself in the form of Lovecraft and particularly Clark Ashton Smith (both of whom Fritz corresponded with). A lot of the book is a voyage of discovery, the central character is recovering from an alcaholic wake and is slowly waking up into reality again.

This volume brings together Fritz Leibers finest supernatural novels, something not to be missed.
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By bernie VINE VOICE on 28 Feb. 2005
Format: Paperback
Professor Saylor and his wife Tansy are newcomers to the university. Even thought they are not of the same conservative material as the others they seem to be doing quite well. Professor Norman Saylor of the sociology department is the author of "Parallelism in Superstition and Neurosis." He gets this irresistible urge to snoop around in Tansy's personals and is surprised to find that she is a practitioner of the craft. He is not really upset, and only wants to help her to free her self by burning all the paraphernalia (except her diary).

It is not hard to guess what happens next. Yep his life falls apart and he is destined to be run over by a truck if other evil things do not get to him first. He finds that there are more evil forces at work (all female of course) each with her own agenda.

The real question is does Norman ever get sucked up in the system or is he still convinced that it is just coincidence?

As with most movies that are an abbreviation of the book the one made for his story has the same feel "Night of The Eagle, aka Burn Witch Burn" (1962) with Peter Wyngarde as Norman, and Janet Bliar as Tansy.

Night of the Eagle [DVD] [1962]
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Vlad the emailer on 18 Nov. 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a great little read and one to snuggle up with in front of an open fire.Buy if you like "The Woman in Black".Also get "The Night of the Eagle" starring Peter Wyngarde,the excellent movie of this book.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 31 reviews
32 of 32 people found the following review helpful
An overview of Conjure Wife / Our Lady of Darkness 5 April 1997
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Where to start?
Both Conjure Wife and Our Lady of Darkness are masterpeices of supernatural fiction. Conjure Wife, written by Fritz Leiber in the 1940's, is both frightening and thought-provoking, it is also suprisingly up to date. The proposition that all women are witches and utterly control their husbands lives is followed through in a very personal narrative. Don't be put off by the film versions (particularly Night of The Eage, aka Burn Witch Burn), this is a complex story which has an eerie power akin to his famous story 'Smoke Ghost'.

Our Lady of Darkness, was written by Fritz Leiber in the late seventies and is one of his finest novels. Autobiographical (the location, the alcoholism and the loss of his wife are all based on fact) and thus very upsetting in parts. It weaves a magical vision of modern urban horror, a theme that he used throughout his career.
At the centre of the book lies horror fiction itself in the form of Lovecraft and particularly Clark Ashton Smith (both of whom Fritz corresponded with). A lot of the book is a voyage of discovery, the central character is recovering from an alcaholic wake and is slowly waking up into reality again.

This volume brings together Fritz Leibers finest supernatural novels, something not to be missed
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
Nevertheless it Moves 11 Sept. 2007
By P. D. Harris Jr. - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Considered a modern horror story for it's time, Conjure Wife reinvents the 'witch' as well educated women far removed from the green-skinned, hag of our collective imagination and allows her story to unfold on a modern university campus. The action begins fairly early in the book when Norman Saylor, a professor of ethnology, discovers his wife Tansy has put his research into "Negro Conjure Magic" into practice for the sake of protecting him from other spell casting faculty wives who wish to further their own husbands careers and with that their own social standing.

Being a rational man of science Norman has only an academic interest in the subject of magic and superstition and he forces Tansy to cease all her workings and to burn all her charms which mostly take the form of mojo bags (called hands in the book)--with the exception of her diary which contains her formulas for How to Make Wishes Work, How To Get and Guard, to Spell and to Hex. No sooner does Norman burn the last charm hidden in his pocket watch, which Tansy either purposely or accidentally forgot was there, do things start to fall apart. A former student accuses Norman of railroading him into failing out of school and threatens him with a gun, his student-secretary accuses him of having seduced her, and he is passed over for a promotion that had seemed guaranteed.

Norman then begins to have more than his fair share of small accidents such as cutting himself while shaving, stepping on carpet tacks, cutting his hand with a letter opener, etc... and he begins to imagine that he senses a dark presence which exploits his fear of trucks. A bad situation becomes even worse when Tansy takes his curse upon herself and he is forced to put aside his disbelief and use witchcraft to save not only his wife's soul, but her body as well in an delightfully unexpected twist reminiscent of The Skeleton Key (2005).

Although Conjure Wife is a horror novel, it's subject matter is treated seriously. The witches are portrayed as 'normal' women with clearly understandable motivations. The witchcraft portrayed in the novel is derived from Southern Folk Magic (Hoodoo). Very early in the book Norman discovers Tansy's boxes of silver dimes, lodestones, and several bottles of graveyard dirt, and squares of flannel for making her 'hands'. The practices portrayed in this work are authentic, however the author did little to describe the actual use of these items within the story, save for a few workings. Most of the action is internal as Norman attempts to convince himself that the events occurring around him are coincidental as slowly begins to believe that magic is real and all women are witches!

The book has spawned three movie adaptations Burn, Witch Burn (1962); Weird Woman (1944); and Witch's Brew(1980). Although each movie is based on this novel, each one has changed it's portrayal how witchcraft (not Wicca) is practiced. None of the movies portrays witchcraft as it is actually practiced, however neither does all the practices in Conjure Wife reflect actual practices.

Overall I found it a very enjoyable read that was over too quickly.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Eppur si muove "nevertheless, it moves" 16 April 2009
By bernie - Published on Amazon.com
Professor Saylor and his wife Tansy are newcomers to the university. Even thought they are not of the same conservative material as the others they seem to be doing quite well. Professor Norman Saylor of the sociology department is the author of "Parallelism in Superstition and Neurosis." He gets this irresistible urge to snoop around in Tansy's personals and is surprised to find that she is a practitioner of the craft. He is not really upset, and only wants to help her to free her self by burning all the paraphernalia (except her diary).

It is not hard to guess what happens next. Yep his life falls apart and he is destined to be run over by a truck if other evil things do not get to him first. He finds that there are more evil forces at work (all female of course) each with her own agenda.

The real question is does Norman ever get sucked up in the system or is he still convinced that it is just coincidence?

As with most movies that are an abbreviation of the book the one made for his story has the same feel "Night of The Eagle, aka Burn Witch Burn" (1962) with Peter Wyngarde as Norman, and Janet Bliar as Tansy.

Burn Witch Burn Starring: Peter Wyngarde, Janet Blair
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Eppur si muove "nevertheless, it moves" 31 Jan. 2008
By bernie - Published on Amazon.com
Professor Saylor and his wife Tansy are newcomers to the university. Even thought they are not of the same conservative material as the others they seem to be doing quite well. Professor Norman Saylor of the sociology department is the author of "Parallelism in Superstition and Neurosis." He gets this irresistible urge to snoop around in Tansy's personals and is surprised to find that she is a practitioner of the craft. He is not really upset, and only wants to help her to free her self by burning all the paraphernalia (except her diary).

It is not hard to guess what happens next. Yep his life falls apart and he is destined to be run over by a truck if other evil things do not get to him first. He finds that there are more evil forces at work (all female of course) each with her own agenda.

The real question is does Norman ever get sucked up in the system or is he still convinced that it is just coincidence?

As with most movies that are an abbreviation of the book the one made for his story has the same feel "Night of The Eagle, aka Burn Witch Burn" (1962) with Peter Wyngarde as Norman, and Janet Bliar as Tansy.

Burn Witch Burn
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Subtly terrifying 7 Aug. 2010
By Stefan - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Conjure Wife is a 1943 horror novel by master fantasist Fritz Leiber, who is best known for his excellent FAFHRD AND THE GRAY MOUSER stories. While Conjure Wife is usually labeled as horror, the recently released trade paperback edition from Orb is marketed as "the classic of urban fantasy" -- maybe to latch on to the recent surge in popularity of that sub-genre? Regardless of which genre it's placed in, Conjure Wife is an excellent novel that definitely deserved a re-release.

Norman Saylor is a sociology professor at the small -- and as far as I can tell, entirely fictional -- college of Hempnell. Early on in the novel, Saylor discovers that his wife Tansy has been attempting to practice magic. Saylor, a very rational and cerebral man, attempts to convince Tansy that magic isn't real, but after she destroys all the protective magical artifacts hidden around their house, Saylor's life suddenly takes a turn for the worse: old and new enemies appear, small accidents start to happen, his tenure at the college suddenly is in danger...

As this subtly terrifying story progresses, Conjure Wife does an excellent job at contrasting the different personalities of the characters. Saylor is supremely rational and always tries to find a logical explanation for even the most bizarre situations and actions. His wife Tansy is a more intuitive and passionate soul. Saylor's colleagues, and their wives, are all fully realized characters. Throughout private meetings, bridge games, lectures, and the inevitable conflicts, Fritz Leiber does an amazing job making these people feel realistic and real. This novel, barely 220 pages long, has a very high signal-to-noise ratio -- an extremely enjoyable and fast read that will reveal more details upon re-reading.

For a novel written more than 60 years ago, Conjure Wife isn't nearly as dated as it could be. Aside from the distinct fact that the entire teaching staff is male, and a few other societal values that have changed, this novel could be set in any small college today. More proof of the timeless adaptability of this story: the three movies that were based on this novel were made in 1944, 1962 and 1980 -- and I could easily see a 4th movie, set in the present day.

For newcomers to Fritz Leiber, I would still recommend FAFHRD AND THE GRAY MOUSER first, but Conjure Wife is an excellent standalone novel -- and a great book to curl up with on Halloween!
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