[Reading] ➻ The White Hands and Other Weird Tales ➱ Mark Samuels – Motyourdrive.co.uk



10 thoughts on “The White Hands and Other Weird Tales

  1. says:

    a collection of short stories by cult favorite Mark Samuels the author writes in the Weird Fiction vein, so there is a wonderfully old fashioned feel to the writing, an emphasis on unknowable and often vaguely cosmic horror, and an admirable preference for subtlety and ambiguity over palpable, visceral horror.I found it to be disappointing competently and efficiently written, but it just didn t resonate with me much still, Samuels clearly has talent he can really set a stage and his imagery is well rendered Mannequins in Aspects of Terror had particularly memorable images an abandoned office building filled with exceedingly creepy tableaux of various doomed, tormented figures was worthy of some good shudders the sheer weirdness on display will stick with me unfortunately the predictable ending left me shrugging.I enjoyed the meta qualities of the first and last stories, how they engaged with both written and filmed horrors, and how the two stories connected but I also found them to be somewhat uninspired the final image in the last story of the collection a celluloid ghost coming to get the protagonist made me snicker.I thought Search for Kruptos a surreal story detailing the search for a unique book had a surprisingly tasteless ending that unnecessarily links everything to the Holocaust again the imagery was superb, all of those wintry vistas and streets full of abandoned books, but the story itself eh and then ugh The Impasse intriguingly juggles both Kafka and Ligotti with its inescapable mazes and bleak office horror, but I wanted the story felt half baked and the ending rather cheap in general for most of the stories, I wanted , resonance and layers because these purposely obscure horrors often wound up feeling facile I would have liked development of the protagonists, depth to them, so that I could have experienced some frisson of horror at their eventual dooms the could have been excellent Colony about a strange man s attraction to a strange neighborhood in particular could have used in the way of understanding who this protagonist actually is I m a big admirer of ambiguity in my horror, and in general, but I usually need something to connect to or at least somewhat understand if I m going to remain interested if I can t have careful characterization or intriguing and sustained themes, then all I m left with is the prose although Samuels prose is quite proficient and his imagery has a memorable clarity the writing itself is not particularly distinctive great images but little style it feels odd critiquing a talented author with that phrase, but that pretty much sums it up.my favorite was Vrolyck a fun and creepy tale about a very peculiar person and their very peculiar plans for the world it had the collection s most substantial characters and a compellingly strange cosmic threat pretty enjoyable, but again, I was let down by an uninteresting ending I m feeling lazy tonight so this is basically an updated post I made in the great Goodreads group Literary Horror.


  2. says:

    If you re longing for Ligotti or pining for Poe, you should add Mark Samuels to your list of Most Desirable Authors The works in this volume are dark surrealism at its brooding best These are stories I wish I had written Though one of them is of a mood piece than a story, the remainder have enough plot to interest the most demanding page turner, while the rich prose will please the most discerning reader All of them are thick with atmosphere gray, lonely, and sinister These stories are full of mystic tomes, a la Lovecraft In fact, one story, The Search for Kruptos, partially takes place in a city full of books Sounds enticing to a book lover, no No Oh, please, no, don t go there You may end up asking yourself if you really want to keep reading at all after finishing Kruptos Black as Darkness will have you fidgeting when you next view any number of experimental movies or, indeed, any movie done in monochrome The Impasse is what Kafka would have written on a bad PCP trip Vrolyck is one of the most intriguing of the bunch With it, Samuels might have invented a new sub sub sub genre of pseudo meta fictional quasi autobiographical horrific surreal dark fantasy You ll know what I mean when you read it And you should read it All of it But beware Once you ve read The White Hands and Other Weird Tales, there s no going back From that point on, you ll hesitate whenever you reach out to read a book, put a black and white movie in the DVD player, or see a mysterious bit of graffiti against a slum wall And you should hesitate In fact, you should just withdraw into a shell and not peek out Ever Don t trust anything


  3. says:

    Well after much debate about whether or not I should buy the paperback or really hard to find hardback edition of WHITE HANDS AND OTHER WEIRD TALES WHoWT , I decided to really indulge and buy the limited edition costly hardback version It was worth every penny I had heard many outstanding things about Mark Samuels, and in terms of my weird fiction reading of contemporary authors, Samuels represented one of the few authors I had not yet read but really should have by now Well, I have now finished up this debut collection and feel that these outstanding stories really meet the hype that I have gotten from other weird fiction readers.Not a single clunker in this collection but some that really stand out Since being introduced to the horror fiction of Fritz Leiber via John Pelan s most outstanding collections published through Midnight House, I have really come to appreciate the dread mood building and evocation of horror in the urban setting.In WHoWT, many of the stories did have an urban setting which juxtaposed quite nicely when Samuels would pull the rug out from under the reader, revealing a bizarre or cosmic layer of reality underneath the banal urban landscape This kind of fantastic switcheroo on the reader was quite evident in The Impasse , which happened to be one of my favorite stories in the collection Getting back to Leiber though, I found many elements within Mannequins in Aspects of Terror to be highly reminiscent of Leiber s Black Glass a tale in which we find the main character ascending a skyscraper, only to find himself in another world or dimension Similarly, in Mannequins , we find our main character oddly transfixed by the city s monument to urban decay and than willing to explore a bizarre art exhibition contained therein.One key theme explored by Samuels that nicely manifests itself in many of the stories is the idea that perhaps our reality is not really our own but one that has been created or dreamt up by the dead or perhaps other external cosmic forces This theme is most evident in The Apartment , which I really enjoyed and found to be quite harrowing One other theme that I found in this collection that really struck a chord with me is the insidious effect of language or written word on our reality and consciousness We find these themes wonderfully examined in both Kruptos and Vrolyk I have to say that even the weakest story, The Grand master s Final Game , was one that certainly kept me captivated and provided a clever twist in the end This was an easy 5 star rating and for those of you that really need to be introduced to this fantastic author of the modern weird tale, you can still find a very affordable paperback copy of Samuels debut collection at Tartarus Press.Highly recommended


  4. says:

    Another one of these modern weird horror writers apparently very highly regarded so I had been on the look out for some of his work for a while now Then I spotted this Tartarus reprint of his first collection and I jumped at the chance to see what he was like I was not disappointed.I breezed through this collection very quickly, not only because it is quite short, but because it was an absolute pleasure to read This guy really has pinned down the essential essence of the classic weird tale, paying a healthy respect to the classics without seeming pastiche.White visages, as well as featuring in the title story, are also a recurring theme throughout the book The white mannequins in Mannequins in Aspects of Terror , the ghostly white images of the dead in the mirrors in Apartment 205 and the white paint in which the protagonist paints himself to cover up his skin condition in Vrolyk.Also a recurring theme is the self regarding study of the genre itself the weird tale Several of the characters in the stories are writers or artists intent on defining and creating the truly weird and horrific I believe, Muswell once said, that mental isolation is the essence of weird fiction Isolation when confronted with disease, with madness, with horror and with death These are the reverberations of the infinity that torments us from The White Hands There was not a bad story in the whole collection Further proof, if proof were needed, of how the weird horror genre is thriving today as never before.


  5. says:

    I first encountered this writer in the Vandermeer s anthology _The Weird_.The print copies of _The White Hands and Other Weird Tales_ on sale from are pricey but the ebook price is quite reasonable Later, I found out that one can buy a print version directly from the publisher at a reasonable price too.All these stories move at a brisk pace, are written in one of the _clearest_ prose styles I have ever read, and are influenced by the greats in the field such as Machen, Borges, Ligotti I got a kick out of the story The Grandmaster s Final Game , for I am a chess aficionado In this story, a priest who had left competitive chess, and is grandmaster of the game, has a chess showdown against an evil spirit who was once a chess opponent of the priest Mark Samuels knows chess, for example the chess opening played in this story is one the major openings played today, not some stupid opening move such as h3.Some stories show the influence of Ligotti, for example in Apartment 205 the narrator discovers, and becomes embroiled in, the occult practices of a neighbor In Mannequins in Aspect of Terror the narrator visits a strange art exhibit of horrible looking mannequins.and I won t say further In Vrolyck the narrator is himself interested in, and writes, weird fiction He meets a woman at a cafe and shows her a story he wrote this story is like a virus, in that it replicatesitself to others with deleterious consequences.Because I enjoyed this book, I recently got Samuels other book _The Man Who Collected Machen_ Some stories in this book also use the idea of contagion as a metaphor I will probably get around to writing a review of that book.The stories in this book The White Hands The Grandmaster s Final GameMannequins in Aspects of TerrorApartment 205The ImpasseColony Vrolyck The Search for Kruptos Black as Darkness


  6. says:

    So, so good and worthy of classic status I had flashbacks to Poe, Ballard and Borges while drifting through these eminently readable dark nightmares Add these to your queue for next year s October or for dipping into your Kindle whenever you re in the mood for some expertly and beautifully crafted macabre.


  7. says:

    A great new classic in the weird tale Well written and filled with terrifying imagery Minus a point since its obvious that Samuels is working through his influences especially Thomas Ligotti, but also Borges,Machen,Ballard, M.P Shiel, and Lovecraft , but these stories or tales are so well written they seem like well crafted tributes rather than pale imitations and he has good chance of being regarded with those names at this rate.


  8. says:

    I first stumbled upon Mark Samuels when I read his story A Gentleman From Mexico in the Book of Cthulhu II I found the story showcased an easy, confident writing style and it really made an imprint on me Afterwards I ordered copies of his two in print collections The White Hands and Other Weird Tales and The Man Who Collected Machen and Other Weird Tales I also recently ordered a copy of Glyphotech, a short collection from PS Publishing that is now out of print.It took me a couple months before I cracked open The White Hands, but it only took me a couple days to zip through it When I started I was wondering if the stories were going to be nearly as good as A Gentleman From Mexico, and as I finished I scolded myself for waiting so long before reading Mark Samuels.The stories within are all exemplars of weird fiction Samuels writes clear and concise, and is not shy about showing his influences I knew going into this one that Lovecraft and Machen were influences on Samuels, but I was pleasantly surprised to find that some of the stories within echoed Thomas Ligotti s bleak, nihilistic style of horror.The collection opens with The White Hands, a tale that reads like pure, classic weird horror An academic decides to study a near forgotten author named Lilith Blake, whose fiction is extraordinarily dark and bleak He must use the collection of a former professor named Muswell, a hardcore Blake enthusiast The story is an excellent opener, and reading about the protagonist s growing obsession with Blake s work is good fun Following this story is The Grandmaster s Final Game An enchanted chess set brings about a rematch between a priest and a wicked former opponent The story starts off strong and keeps going right up until the finish.The middle section of the book are the tales that to me are most reminiscent of Thomas Ligotti s work Mannequins in Aspects of Terror is a creepy urban tale Mannequins are creepy anyway, and Samuels takes it to a whole new level with this story, set in a mostly abandoned office tower which becomes a place of fixation for the narrator Apartment 205 is another tale concerning a character who becomes enchanted and obsessed, only this time it s a certain room in a neighboring apartment which keeps drawing him in Another tale with dark, pessimistic undertones, the story just gets creepier and creepier The Impasse, one of my favorite stories of the collection, is 100% Ligottian corporate horror The story is surreal from the start, and details a mans first day on the job at a strange firm Events get stranger and stranger as the story goes on, and a feeling of hopelessness pervades throughout the story The next story continues the theme of obsession, and similar to The Impasse it has a surreal feel early on that continues throughout The protagonist of The Colony becomes enad with a run down, shady part of town that he stumbles across He finds himself attracted to the bleakness of not only the place, but the denizens he encounters on his nightly jaunts He decides to move into the desolate neighborhood, and the places pull on him intensifies further, culminating in a terrifying conclusion.Although the previous four tales are the ones that seem to be the most influenced by Ligotti, the tale that follows reads like a Ligotti Lovecraft mashup Vrolyck follows a misanthropic insomniac who is than he lets on He meets a woman also suffering from insomnia in a cafe, which sends events spiraling The tone is Ligotti but the plot is Lovecraft, making for quite a brilliant story.The Search For Kruptos is yet again another tale dealing with obsession The protagonist is a student who becomes obsessed with finding Kruptos, the unpublished magnum opus of an exiled author from days of old The story takes place during the second World War, and although dealing with the idea of worlds in between dreaming and waking has a jarring ending that threw me off.And finally, Black as Darkness brings readers full circle, as references to characters in the first story create a sense of a bigger picture The tale follows two old men who have been lifelong friends, and what happens when a mysterious, bootlegged video tape shows up and dirty secrets are aired, leading to yet another bleak ending.In conclusion, The White Hands and Others is a brilliant early collection Readers of weird horror will find much familiarity here, although the voice is Mr Samuels s own I can t imagine any fans of the weird being disappointed in this collection, and I even find it hard to bring criticism against it myself This book should be a welcome addition to any bookshelf, and since it s an in print paperback from Tartarus Press a wonderful publisher it can be easily found online.Originally appeared on my blog, The Arkham Digest.


  9. says:

    Thanks to the Kindle app on my phone, I finally managed to read a copy of this book I think I still prefer The Man Who Collected Machen, as the scope of those stories seemed somehow larger, but this was an almost equally fantastic volume of modern weird fiction, and was as enthralling as I d come to expect High points include the title story which I d already read in The Weird , Mannequins in Aspects of Terror, and Black as Darkness.


  10. says:

    This is a fairly short book, coming in at a mere 137 pages But it s also consistently good throughout Coming from Tartarus Press I expected no less.The biggest indicator of a good story collection is my urge to continue on with it, and that was quite strong here All of these stories were fun reads, even that weren t up to the standard of the best A few did disappoint me slightly as being a bit predictable, hence the reason I can t quite give this book a perfect rating.The White Hands This was a re read for me, having originally found this story in the Vandermeer s The Weird anthology I think I enjoyed it even this time, its got a pitch perfect atmosphere and setting A man investigating an obscure horror author becomes mixed up with a man who has written some of her stories for her, from the grave.The Grandmaster s Final Game This story isn t as good as the first one, but it s a decent weird tale A man begs a priest for aid after he is cursed by a chess players spirit.Mannequins in Aspects of Terror This is an excellent story, and it brought Ligotti to mind a couple times It s creepy, with a very unsettling theme overall One of the best in the book A man fascinated by an abandoned office tower learns it s architect is planning a sort of horror show there.Apartment 205 This is an above average haunted room story A medical student in Paris becomes obsessed with a nearby apartment where occult rituals took place.The Impasse This was an excellent corporate horror story It reminds me a bit of the work of Borges, and Ligotti s corporate horror tales A man begins work at an organization which makes absurd copyright claims, but there s something far sinister going on.Colony I could see where this story might disappoint some at the end, but I really loved it I love the whole setting and feel of it, it reminds me of some of Lovecraft s early, atmospheric short works A man moves into a desolate, depressing neighborhood because he is drawn to it s atmosphere.Vrolyck Very creative story, original idea that is well handled I thought A man uses his own weird fiction stories to allow an alien race to take over people s minds.The Search for Kruptos Another story with shades of Borges in it and another story where I especially loved the setting and mood This story was one of the memorable ones A student travels through war ravaged Europe to a frozen village to discover what became of an obscure, infamous metaphysician.Black as Darkness This one is half mystery tale and goes toward the bottom of the totem pole, still a decent story and I love weird tales which are about old films Two life long friends old disagreement over a woman pops up when an obscure film she appeared in resurfaces.


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