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NIGHTMARE JACK and Other Stories [Kindle Edition]

John Metcalfe , Richard Dalby , Alexis Lykiard
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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Book Description

Writing about John Metcalfe (1891–1965) in THE PENGUIN ENCYCLOPAEDIA OF HORROR AND THE SUPERNATURAL, T. E. D. Klein said that the author's work 'is marked by a rare artistry, wit, and intelligence—and by a restraint too often lacking in the genre'. Mike Ashley, in WHO'S WHO IN HOROR AND FANTASY FICTION, calls Metcalfe's works 'skilful and bizarre', while E. F. Bleiler, in his THE GUIDE TO SUPERNATURAL FICTION, refers to them as 'tense, cryptic stories of brooding supernaturalism' which are now 'unjustly forgotten'.

John Metcalfe's tales of the macabre and the supernatural are amongs the finest in the genre, and are comparable to the stories of such authors as Walter de la Mare, L. P. Hartley, and Robert Aickman. The horrors in his stories are insidious and unnerving, frightening by stealth rather than violence as they intrude into the quiet lives of ordinary people, who find their worlds shaken by forces they can neither understand nor control. Like the best horror tales of Poe and Le Fanu, Metcalfe's narratives are often disturbing accounts of excursions into the 'bad lands' of the subconscious mind.

In THE ST JAMES GUIDE TO HORROR, GHOST AND GOTHIC WRITERS, Brian Stableford wrote: 'The neglect into which Metcalfe's work has fallen is very unfortunate; an excellent eclectic collection could be compiled by combining THE FEASTING DEAD with the cream of his short fiction, and it is hight time that some such project was attempted.' NIGHTMARE JACK AND OTHER STORIES does just that. Seventeen of Metcalfe's finest supernatural and macabre works form this splendid collection: from the delicate ambiguity of 'The Double Admiral', 'The Bad Lands', and 'Brenner's Boy', through the nightmare of 'Mortmain' and '"Beyondaril"', to his masterpiece of sustained horror, 'The Feasting Dead'.

Richard Dalby provides a fascinating Introduction to Metcalfe and his work, and there is an afterword by Alexis Lykiard, who calls John Metcalfe 'one of the literary missing. Almost, but not exactly a ghost . . .'


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Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 622 KB
  • Print Length: 247 pages
  • Publisher: Christopher Roden/Ash-Tree Press; 1 edition (14 Mar. 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B007KM9P2K
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #234,128 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Unjustly Forgotten Master of Terror 10 May 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Here is an example of one of the finest writers of supernatural terror falling unjustly into near-oblivion. Note I wrote 'terror', not 'horror'. Horror can be accomplished in many ways and by not always the most skilled of practitioners; terror - the rising of a hair, the puckering of the skin, as a reader suddenly realises he is all alone in a dark house in the middle of the night; or maybe not - is a far more difficult thing to accomplish in fiction.

With the exception of the titular story, which is a bit of a dated stinker, this collection boasts the work of a writer who could build an eerie atmosphere seemingly out of nowhere. Like the maitre, Robert Aickman, even re-readings don't give away the secret of how Metcalfe did such a rare thing, creeping a reader out without resorting to gore and/or disgust.

I love this kind of supernatural fiction, this subtle, edge-of-your-vision stuff, and I find myself intrigued by Metcalfe's protagonists, the out-of-step-with-life people who find their worlds changed, usually for the worse, often irrevocably. 'The Feasting Dead' is a masterpiece of ambiguity: is it one of the best possession, ghost, or vampire stories extant? Not that it matters: once read, it's never forgotten. Gems like 'The Bad Lands', 'The Double Admiral', and the much-anthologised 'Brenner's Boy' haunt, too, without the reader being able to pinpoint exactly why. Metcalfe, an Englishman who lived much of his life in America, could do that most difficult thing, too: infuse his work with wit and comedy. 'Mr Meldrum's Mania', about a man who visits a psychiatrist because of his obsession (he believes he is transforming into the Egyptian God Thoth), starts humourously and descends into fear. Pity those poor people in the lift!
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