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Book Review: Uncanny Tales (The Dennis Wheatley Library of the Occult)

Uncanny Tales The Dennis Wheatley Library of the Occult

In the 1960s and 70s, Hutchinson were selling a million copies of Dennis Wheatley books every year. Wheatley’s occult books (including the classic The Devil Rides Out) were also made into films by Hammer. To bank on the author’s popularity, Sphere Books came up with a series called The Dennis Wheatley Library of the Occult. There were total 45 books in the series; Wheatley edited and wrote introductions for each one. The titles included occult themed novels as well as non-fiction works on the subject. Among the notable works in the series were three creepy volumes — Uncanny Tales 1, 2, and 3.

Most of the stories in The Uncanny Tales series are from the first half of the 20th century. Along with some short masterpieces, it offers a few little know yet delightfully spooky stories. Here are some pieces worth mentioning:

  • Clarimonde by Théophile Gautier: Romuald, a priest, falls for a beautiful and sensual woman who turns out to be a vampire.
  • Carmilla by Sheridan Le Fanu: A gothic novella about a female vampire. It’s somewhat marked by lesbian tones.
  • Ligeia by Edgar Allen Poe: A woman comes back from the realms of the dead and is transformed into her husband’s former wife.
  • The Snake by Dennis Wheatley: An eerie piece on black magic and voodoo set in Africa.
  • The Monkey’s Paw by W. W. Jacobs: Needs no introduction.
  • Witch’s Vengeance by W. B. Seabrook: A cool story about witchcraft.
  • A Life for a Life by Dennis Wheatley: The author deals with Egyptian mummies and nightmares in his own signature style.

Uncanny Tales books are truly remarkable and worth hunting for.

Contents:

Uncanny Tales 1

Carmilla by Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu
The Dream Woman by Wilkie Collins
The Tapestried Chamber by Sir Walter Scott
The Open Door by Mrs Oliphant
The Spectre Bridegroom by Washington Irving
Ligeia by Edgar Allan Poe
Clarimonde by Theophile Gautier.

Uncanny Tales 2

Great God Pan by Arthur Machen
Witch’s Vengeance by W B Seabrook
Gavon’s Eve by E F Benson
Feet Foremost by L P Hartley
All Hallows by Walter de la Mare
Smee by Ex-Private X (A. M. Burrage)
The Angelus by William Younger
A Life for a Life by Dennis Wheatley.

Uncanny Tales 3

Afterward by Edith Wharton
The Monkey’s Paw by W. W. Jacobs
The Miracle of Stigmata by Frank Harris
Playing with Fire by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
The Snake by Dennis Wheatley
The Trod by Algernon Blackwood
The Canary by F. Tennyson Jesse
The Hand by Theodore Dreiser
The Call of the Hand by Louis Golding
The Snow by Hugh Walpole
Lucky’s Grove by H. R. Wakefield.

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