Horror / Fantasy / SF / Reviews

Book review: Brood of the Witch Queen by Sax Rohmer

brood of the witch queen sax rohmer

Genre: Science Fiction/Fantasy

Brood of the Witch Queen is one of the creepiest and scariest books of Sax Rohmer — the creator of the fiendish Fu Manchu and Sumuru. Originally serialized in a British Magazine, this intriguing Egyptian tale of ancient curse and black magic takes you from London to Cairo involving a great adventure.

The Story

Set in London in the early 1900s, this is a tale of ancient sorcery with vampires and crawly bugs. Dr. Richard and Robert Cairn fights against diabolical powers and a dark figure called Anthony Ferarra. And the odds turn terrible when Ferarra’s ancient ancestor — a Polish/Jewish witch that placed a curse on her husband’s family — casts her evil shadow.

The Style

Rohmer’s novel reflects his passion for dramatic prose and abrupt ending. Also, the characterization seems a bit wooden. Nonetheless, Brood of the Witch Queen holds a lot of value in terms of pulp entertainment. This fast moving novel is full of adventure and creepy scenes. The plot, though predictable, will not disappoint you. Though the book is about a century old, it does not seem much dated.

Not a perfect story, pretty much over the top, but Brood of the Witch Queen is pure escapist fun.

Similar Books:

Jewel of the Seven Stars by Bram Stoker

The Devil Rides Out by Dennis Wheatley

Rating ***

Brood of the Witch Queen by Sax Rohmer ebook Download


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Cover of the Week

Vintage Cover Art (Rowena Morrill): Isobel by Jane Parkhurst

Rowena Morrill vintage cover art

Rowena Morrill is a SF and fantasy artist who has some really great vintage pulp covers to her credit. The above illustration is from the horror novel Isobel by Jane Parkhurst. Even by the high standard of vintage pulp covers, this one stands out as an outstanding example of compelling horror artwork, which has altogether vanished due to some incomprehensible reason. Can you feel the evocation of the dark? Does it give you the creeps?

In his blog  Too much horror fiction, Will mentions that this was Morrill’s first cover art. Too good a debut even for someone too talented!

Here is the front cover of the paperback:

vintage cover art


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Opinion & Featured Articles

Top 5 Stephen King Movies

salems lot

There are way too many movies based on Stephen King novels and short stories. Some are absolute gems, some are plain watchable and a few are total freak shows. Want the best of the lot? Here’s our two cents:

the shinningThe Shining (1980)

Director: Stanley Kubrick
Jack Nicholson, Shelley Duvall, Danny Lloyd

A frustrated writer (Jack) takes up a winter caretaker job at an isolated hotel. Before he moves to the hotel with his family, the manager warns him about the terrible history of the place. Jack’s psychic son also has scary visions, and eventually all the nightmares come true as an evil presence starts having its way.

“The Shining is like a near-miss auto accident: You don’t know how scared you really were until you start shaking a few hours later.” — People Magazine

The Shawshank Redemption (1994)the Shawshank Redemption

Director: Frank Darabont
Tim Robbins, Morgan Freeman

An innocent fellow gets arrested and ends up being surrounded by the corruptions of the legal system. He bonds with a prison inmate and finds solace through acts of common decency. Based on Stephen King’s novella Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption.

“If you don’t love Shawshank, chances are you’re beyond redemption.” — Empire Magazine

carrie stephen kingCarrie (1976)

Director: Brian De Palma
Sissy Spacek, Piper Laurie, John Travolta

Carrie White, a teenage girl who gets abused by bullies, finds out that she has telekinesis. When humiliated on the night of her school’s prom, she uses her telekinetic fury on the smartass tormentors.

“An exercise in high style that even the most unredeemably rational among moviegoers should find enormously enjoyable” – Time Magazine

The Dead Zone (1983)the dead zone

Director: David Cronenberg
Christopher Walken, Brooke Adams, Martin Sheen

Johnny Smith awakens from a five year coma to discover that he has developed an ability to see a person’s future by touching him. He realizes that he can also change the future, but this proves to be a curse as he meets Greg Stillson — a ruthless politician.

“Mr. Cronenberg’s direction is vivid and effective; his pacing is a little unemphatic at times, but the film’s individual scenes are very well staged.” — New York Times

the mist stephen kingThe Mist (2007)

Director: Frank Darabont
Thomas Jane, Marcia Gay Harden, Laurie Holden

An unnatural mist envelops a town and unleashes nightmarish, otherworldly creatures. Survivors hide in a supermarket and tensions rise among them as things become worse with every passing moment.

[This] grocery-store survival drama, dominated by Marcia Gay Harden as a shrill fundamentalist, serves as a crude but effective allegory for post-9/11 America.”  — Chicago Reader

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Down Memory Lane (Authors & Events) / Opinion & Featured Articles

The Return of the Occult: Bloomsbury Re-publishes Dennis Wheatley’s Novels

dennis wheatley

Back in the 1950s, Dennis Wheatley was a big name in the pulp market. His first novel — The Forbidden Territory — was an immediate success. It was reprinted seven times in seven weeks, translated in multiple languages, and the film rights were brought by none other than Alfred Hitchcock himself. Thereafter, Wheatley wrote numerous bestselling novels. His most famous work is the celebrated black magic potboiler — The Devil Rides Out.

Outselling Agatha Christie, Wheatley was one of the most popular thriller and occult writer of his time. But like Edgar Wallace, he faded into oblivion soon after his death. His distinctive world of jumbled pulp and esoteric was forgotten. No doubt, that was largely undeserved. James Bond is still widely popular, but few readers are aware that Wheatley’s Gregory Sallust Series had substantial influence on Ian Fleming. As The Guardian rightly points out, Fleming borrowed three major elements from Wheatley — sex, snobbery and sadism.

Dennis Wheatley fans will be delighted to know that Bloomsbury Reader, which offers a large selection of out-of-print ebooks, is re-publishing his books in print and ebook format. They have published 20 ebooks and three paperbacks (The Forbidden Territory, The Devil Rides Out, and To the Devil a Daughter) in the first lot and more will follow. Click here to get the complete list of Wheatley books available from Bloomsbury.

dennis wheatleyThis is the first time Wheatley’s books are available in digital format. For those of you who love e-books, this is great news. Also, a lot of old pulp books are hard to find these days, like those written by Seabury Quinn. I do hope that Bloomsbury re-publishes them too.

Dennis Wheatley’s titles are published by Bloomsbury Reader on 10th October 2013; eBook GBP RRP: £6.99, Paperback RRP: £7.99;


With the retro trends getting popular again, Wheatley’s second innings should be a successful one. Moreover, his novels are tailor made for Hollywood. Hammer Films made some fine movies based on his books (The Devil Rides Out is a cult classic), but special effects were hardly the strong points of those films. With the highly developed modern CGI, remake of The Devil Rides Out and other Wheatley movies can yield phenomenal box office results. Wheatley’s novels — replete with satanic rituals, diabolic corruptions and political machinations — can make incredibly dramatic scripts.

Welcome back ‘The prince of thriller writers”. Thanks again Bloomsbury.

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Horror / Fantasy / SF / Reviews

The Best Weird Tales Anthologies

weird tales

The legendary Weird Tales Magazine had a tough but reasonably long run, and it eventually achieved a cult status among the followers of fantasy/horror/SF genre. Several anthologies based on Weird Tales stories have been published by acclaimed editors like Peter Haining and Marvin Kaye. Here are two of my favourites:

Weird Tales: A Selection in Facsimile, of the Best from the World’s Most Famous Fantasy Magazine
Edited by Peter Haining

An anthology that is true to the spirit of the magazine. As the title says, this 250 page book is a facsimile reproduction of the actual pages of Weird Tales. Like the celebrated magazine’s original format, it has a two column layout and includes letters from readers, nostalgic illustrations, and priceless old advertisements that appeared in the late 1930s. If you never had the opportunity to grab an old copy of Weird Tales, this book will heal your wound. And Mr. Haining’s introduction is absolutely priceless.


Introduction – Peter Haining

Edmond Hamilton – The Man Who Returned
Robert E. Howard – Black Hound of Death
August Derleth – The Shuttered House
Seabury Quinn – Frozen Beauty
H. P. Lovecraft – Beyond the Wall of Sleep
Clark Ashton Smith – The Garden of Adompha
Henry Kuttner – Beyond the Phoenix
G. G. Pendarves – The Black Monk
Henry S. Whitehead – The Passing Of A God
Manly Wade Wellman – The Valley Was Still
Nictzin Dyalhis – The Heart of Atlantan
Fritz Leiber – The Phantom Slayer
Robert Bloch – The Beasts of Barsac
Ray Bradbury – Bang! You’re Dead!
Theodore Sturgeon – Cellmate
Algernon Blackwood – Roman Remains
Eric Frank Russell – Displaced Person
H. Russell Wakefield – From the Vasty Deep
Mary Elizabeth Counselman – The Shot-Tower Ghost
Allison V. Harding – Take the Z-Train
Margaret St. Clair – The Little Red Owl
Anthony M. Rud – Ooze

weird tales

Weird Tales: 32 Unearthed Terrors
Edited by Stefan R. Dziemainowicz, Robert Weinberg & Martin H. Greenberg

655 pages of some of the finest writing from the magazine’s finest years.  This is probably the biggest Weird Tales collection ever to hit the stands. It comes with introductions and illustrations for each story. Tentacled gods, haunted houses, laboratories illuminated with faint blue lights will scare you shitless.

If you ever get marooned on a desert island, this is one book you would want to have with you.

Foreword – Stefan R. Dziemainowicz
Introduction – Robert Bloch

Anthony M. Rud – A Square Of Canvas
C. M. Eddy – The Loved Dead
Nictzin Dyalhis – When The Green Star Waned
R. Anthony – The Parasitic Hand
Edmond Hamilton – Evolution Island
H. Warner Munn – The Chain
Robert E. Howard – The Shadow Kingdom
Henry S. Whitehead – The Shut Room
Seabury Quinn – Satan’s Stepson
Jack Williamson – The Wand Of Doom
Clark Ashton Smith – The Isle Of The Torturers
C. L. Moore – Dust Of Gods
Laurence J. Cahill – Charon
Arthur J. Burks – The Room Of Shadows
Mary E. Counselman – The Black Stone Statue
Gans T. Field (Manly Wade Wellman) – The Hairy Ones Shall Dance
Robert Barbour Johnson – Far Below
Fritz Leiber – The Automatic Pistol
H. P. Lovecraft – The Case Of Charles Dexter Ward
Henry Kuttner – Masquerade
Robert Bloch – Black Barter
Frank Belknap Long – The Peeper
Carl Jacobi – Barnaby’s Fish
Ray Bradbury – Let’s Play Poison
C. Hall Thompson – The Will Of Claude Ashur
Theodore Sturgeon – The Professor’s Teddy Bear
Frederic Brown – Come And Go Mad
Isaac Asimov & James MacCreigh – Legal Rites
August Derleth – Something From Out There
Joseph Payne Brennan – The Green Parrot
Richard Matheson – Slaughter House
Everil Worrell – Call Not Their Names

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