Those of you who are familiar with Varla Ventura (she of The Book of the Bizarre and Beyond Bizarre, as well as The Huffington Post) know that she rejoices in all things odd and unseemly. So when Weiser Books needed a curator for a new digital library of lost occult classics, the choice was obvious. Varla’s selections for the first ten titles in this series were not. In keeping with her fabulous freakitude, Varla chose tomes as obscure and unsettling as The House and the Brain (which may be the creepiest title ever) and The Occult Power of Goats. God I love that woman!
The result is a group of digital books that will inform, enlighten, surprise, and scare the pants off you. Perfect. They are inexpensive (starting at $2.99) and are currently available from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and soon (very soon) most other e-reader platforms.
Intrigued? Of course you are. So, because Ankhie loves you, here’s a taste of some serious weirdness from A Haunting in Paris:
Utter night: the last flicker of the lantern was gone. I sat and waited; my mind was still keen, but how long would it last? There was a limit even to the endurance of the utter panic of fear.
Then the end began. In the velvet blackness came two white eyes, milky, opalescent, small, far away,—awful eyes, like a dead dream. More beautiful than I can describe, the flakes of white flame moving from the perimeter inward, disappearing ending flow of opal water into a circular tunnel. I could not have moved my eyes had I possessed the power: they devoured the fearful, beautiful things that grew slowly, slowly larger, fixed on me, advancing, growing more beautiful, the white flakes of light sweeping more swiftly into the blazing vortices, the awful fascination deepening in its insane intensity as the white, vibrating eyes grew nearer, larger.
Like a hideous and implacable engine of death the eyes of the unknown Horror swelled and expanded until they were close before me, enormous, terrible, and I felt a slow, cold, wet breath propelled with mechanical regularity against my face, enveloping me in its fetid mist, in its charnel-house deadliness.
With ordinary fear goes always a physical terror, but with me in the presence of this unspeakable Thing was only the utter and awful terror of the mind, the mad fear of of a prolonged and ghostly nightmare. Again and again I tried to shriek, to make some noise, but physically I was utterly dead. I could only feel myself go mad with the terror of hideous death. The eyes were close on me,—their movement so swift that they seemed to be but palpitating flames, the dead breath was around me like the depths of the deepest sea.
Suddenly a wet, icy mouth, like that of a dead cuttle-fish, shapeless, jelly-like,fell over mine. The horror began slowly to draw my life from me, but, as enormous and shuddering folds of palpitating jelly swept sinuously around me, my will came back, my body awoke with the reaction of final fear, and I closed with the nameless death that enfolded me.
Cram, Ralph Adams; Ventura, Varla (2011-10-03). A Haunting in Paris, A Truly Terrifying Tale: Paranormal Parlor, A Weiser Books Collection
Now that’s what I’m talking about!
View the whole collection (so far) here.
And in the meantime, if you know of any great, forgotten, out-of-print spooky books, let us know! Varla is hungry for more!
Coming soon – an interview with the woman herself!