Halloween is approaching, so I’ve been reading creepy tales. (Like I need an excuse.) As was the case last year with the Victorian horror tales, I’ve found some cool stories that would be perfect for Patrick Malahide’s narrational skills: Carnacki, the Ghost Finder by William Hope Hodgson. Hodgson primarily wrote fantastic tales, many with nautical settings, but it is his Carnacki series I’ll focus on. Carnacki is part consulting detective, part ghost buster and despite his continental name is every bit the Edwardian English gentleman. I can’t think of anyone better to narrate his adventures than Patrick Malahide, so I’ll make this a Wished for Role.
The stories have their own mythos with Carnacki using ancient (fictional) texts and rites such as the Sigsand Manuscript and the peculiar “Saaamaaa Ritual”. He also has an Electric Pentacle that he sets up around himself for protection. Electricity plays a big part in the stories, giving them a slight sci-fi edge. Unsurprisingly, Hodgson’s work influenced H. P. Lovecraft.
Some of the stories have a “Scooby Doo” ending with the “haunting” being the result of human trickery, others are purely supernatural, and some combine human chicanery with spectral influence.
Spooky Spoilers Below
- The Gateway of the Monster
Carnacki investigates a deadly haunted room and finds a lost ring that appears to be a gateway for a murderous entity. His Electric Pentacle is put to good use here.
- The House Among the Laurels
Carnacki investigates a haunted mansion in Ireland…when the ceiling drips blood murder usually follows.
- The Whistling Room
A pre-Lovecraftian horror in which Carnacki discovers the room’s weird whistling is actually being made by the floor as it forms into a grotesque pair of gigantic, blistered lips. Eeeeek!
- The Horse of the Invisible
A “cursed” young woman and her fiance are tormented by a phantom horse. (This was dramatized in The Rivals of Sherlock Holmes featuring the delightful Donald Pleasence as Carnacki.)
- The Searcher of the End House
An early Carnacki case. It involves a ghost Woman, a (mega creepy) ghost Child, and some hairy non-ghost sea captain who carries a rotten mutton chop.
- The Thing Invisible
A cursed family dagger is said to kill of its own accord.
- The Hog
Another pre-Lovecraftian tale. A man has dreadful nightmares about a HOG (all caps because it is that big). Naturally the HOG tries to rip a fabric through time and space to enter our world, but Carnacki has his colored lights and a rubber suit, so he won’t let it!
- The Haunted Jarvee
This is one of Hodgson’s nautical tales. A ship acts as a “focus” for dark, supernatural forces at sea.
- The Find
This is a completely non-supernatural story, but it is good fun in a Sherlock Holmes light kind of way. Carnacki uncovers how a supposedly unforgeable book was forged.
I would love to hear Mr. Malahide bring these weird fantasy stories to life and draw attention to the somewhat under-rated William Hope Hodgson. But, for right now I’ll make do with his awesome thriller narrations: Classic Tales of Horror, Classic Railway Murders, Classic Crime Short Stories, and the Lord Peter Wimsey mystery Five Red Herrings. All make for a fantastic auditory experience.