Archive for The Black Wolf

Galad Elflandsson’s “Tales of Carcosa” (2018)

Posted in Ace Books, Copper Toadstool (magazine), Cyäegha Press, Dragonbane (fanzine), Galad Elflandsson, Graeme Phillips (editor), H.P. Lovecraft, How Darkness Came to Carcosa, Robert W. Chambers, Steve Lines, Supernatural Horror in Literature (essay), Tales of Carcosa, The Black Wolf, The King in Yellow (1895) with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 24, 2019 by Manuel Paul Arenas

Tales of Carcosa by Galad Elflandsson (2018, Cyäegha Press).

A while back I did a review on the dark fantasy novel The Black Wolf (1979), by Galad Elflandsson. Mr. Elflandsson saw my review and contacted me starting a correspondence which has been both genial and edifying. Although he has been out of circulation in recent decades, he has continued writing albeit for the most part he has abandoned his Fantasy roots. Even so, he was recently contacted by someone (presumably editor Graeme Phillips) over at Cyäegha Press about some stories he had written which appeared in various fantasy and horror themed journals back in the late 70s and early 80s, like Dark Fantasy, Dragonbane, and Copper Toadstool.

Dragonbane #1 (1978) in which first appeared the story How Darkness Came to Carcosa.

The stories in question were of a specific ilk, focusing on the themes and characters that originated in the book The King in Yellow (1895) by Robert W. Chambers, later incorporated by H.P. Lovecraft into his mythos and augmented upon by subsequent mythos authors. Galad Elflandsson was one such author. According to his afterword, he picked up a copy of the 1965 Ace paperback edition after reading Lovecraft’s rhapsodic endorsement in his benchmark essay Supernatural Horror in Literature. Apparently it left an impression on him because he eventually wrote his own cycle of tales set within the purlieu of Carcosa.

The King in Yellow by Robert W. Chambers (1965, Ace Books).

The tales as I found them, are entertaining although not as fast paced as his novel, The Black Wolf. Knowing his personal writing, I could recognize his penchant for focusing on the human experience. The Exile in particular has a focus on social/class issues and the inner world of the protagonist, Henri. In fact, many of the tales herein seem almost like a mixture of existential literature, and Fin de siècle decadence with a soupçon of horror thrown in on occasion to remind one that these are dark fantasy tales after all. As with The Black Wolf, I would have liked a bit more of a macabre atmosphere maintained throughout, but that is just a personal quirk of mine. I think my favorite story was the opening tale, How Darkness Came to Carcosa, which apparently delineates the origin of the King in the Pallid Mask, and I especially liked the few poems which are scattered throughout the book alongside fitting illustrations by Steve Lines.  Over all, it is a highly enjoyable read, and one does not necessarily need to be familiar with the extended mythos built around Carcosa or The King in Yellow to enjoy these tales, but it wouldn’t hurt going in knowing the reputation behind the forbidden play and the significance of the Yellow Sign.

The book appears to be a limited run, my copy being #8/50 numbered copies, so if you see it, grab it!


Update: Rosaire influences

Posted in Cyäegha (publication), Galad Elflandsson, Graeme Phillips (editor), Jean Grenier (lycanthrope), Montague Summers, Randy Broecker, robert w chambers, Rosaire, The Black Wolf, The Werewolf in Lore and Legend (1933) with tags , , , , , , , , on October 31, 2018 by Manuel Paul Arenas

While brainstorming for my prose-poem, Rosaire I envisioned an epic denouement which I thought was entirely of my own invention. It wasn’t until I began to picture it in my mind’s eye when I realized there was a whiff of familiarity in it. Although my idea isn’t identical to it, I believe the inspiration for my epic ending may be partially inspired by the 3rd act in the Dark Fantasy novel “The Black Wolf” by Galad Elflandsson, which I have reviewed on here before. Mr. Elflandsson stumbled upon my review and agreed with my assessment of his novel and we ended up becoming pen-pals. When I told him about my recent epiphany he was amicably dismissive and said, in reference to my post which included a shot of the cover art from his novel, “you poor thing…nevertheless…you’re more than welcome to whatever comes to you from the above…”.

Trade paperback copy of The Black Wolf by Galad Elflandsson. [1980, Centaur Books]. Cover art by Randy Broecker.

I also have some as yet unpublished stories he sent me in the Robert W. Chambers “King in Yellow” vein. I have not read them yet, but shall be doing so once the dust has settled from the holidays, as I would like to review them here. I believe he is currently in negotiations with editor Graeme Phillips to get them published by a British publisher, that specializes in Mythos fiction, called Cyäegha. If and when they do come out in print I will definitely review them here.

Cyäegha, Summer 2016

I also based some of the werewolf attribute details in Rosaire on historical accounts from Montague Summers’ 1933 treatise on lycanthropy, The Werewolf in Lore and Legend. In particular I was thinking of the 17th century teenage lycanthrope Jean Grenier. I am almost done with the story, but not quite. I felt I needed to add something to it before it is ready, and I want to give it some serious thought before I write anything else. Of course, I’ll keep you all posted on any developments.

The Werewolf in Lore and Legend by Montague Summers [2003, Dover Publications]

Galad Elflandsson’s “The Black Wolf”

Posted in Arkham House, Galad Elflandsson, Lovecraftian Horror, Necronomicon, PS Publishing, Randy Broecker, The Black Wolf with tags , , , , , , on July 19, 2014 by Manuel Paul Arenas

“A fantastic weird novel by a talented new author. The record of strange events and monstrous worship from colonial times. “…just as formidable as was your first encounter with Poe, Machen, Robert Chambers, or H.P. Lovecraft.””

Front and back cover art for the Centaur Books trade paperback edition of

Front and back cover art for the Centaur Books trade paperback edition of “The Black Wolf” (1980).

Thus reads the back cover blurb of the trade paperback edition of Galad Elflandsson’s lone novel,  “The Black Wolf”, which originally was published in 1979 by Donald M Grant in a lovely hardcover edition, beautifully illustrated throughout by renowned horror illustrator Randy Broecker.  Auspicious beginnings for any young  author of the weird variety. In the day, Elflandsson was touted as being the great new hope for fans of old school horror fiction, but he only got out the aforementioned novel and a handful of odd stories, which were published in various genre collections of the day before he got fed up with the politics of the publishing world and halted his output.

For someone who was so celebrated by the horror fiction establishment, it boggles my mind to see how quickly his star rose and fell into obscurity. I who have scoured second hand bookstore shelves and Internet inventories for years to find those hidden horror gems have never heard of him until I stumbled upon his novel in a recycle bin at work. I pulled it out to see what it was and saw that it was illustrated by Randy Broecker, whose illustrations grace the lovely PS Publishing edition of Ramsey Campbell’s collection of early Mythos tales, “The Inhabitant of the Lake and Other Unwelcome Tenants” (2011) which holds a treasured spot in my personal library.

Upon further inspection, I saw the claim in the blurb, which caught my attention, so I figured I’d give it a try. It took me two days to read it all and I must say that I enjoyed it thoroughly, but the accolades were completely off the mark. I first encountered Poe as a pre-teen and it was a life changing experience that still affects me to this day. I came across Lovecraft a few years later and had a similar experience  with his work too. Although Elflandsson drops a few references to the Ancient Ones, Abdul Alhazred and his dreaded tome, the Necronomicon, that is where the similarities to Lovecraft end and there is nothing to tie this novel in with Poe, Machen or Chambers. There is no atmosphere here. The is none of the Gothic decay of Poe, Chambers or early Lovecraft, and there is nothing remotely Machen-like. If there were to be a Weird Tales connection, it would be Robert E Howard. The novel is more of a weird action adventure tale, with a manly proactive protagonist rather than a quailing Lovecraftian character who goes mad in the face of impending doom. There is a section where the protagonist reads a few journal entries from the 18th century which sound a bit like Lovecraft’s sojourns into antiquarian language, that sounded convincing enough, but there was none of the dread, or the Gothic atmosphere, despite the references to ancient black magic rituals and the like.

The basic premiss is that Paul Damon, one of the “city folk” coming to Thatcher’s Ferry for a camping trip on his summer vacation finds himself embroiled in a local feud between the town-folk and the remaining descendant of the town’s namesake. Eventually it escalates into a full blown supernatural horror tale with werewolves raiding the town and ancient dead coming back to life to exact revenge for a perceived two  hundred year old affront on the founding family. The story has much action with just enough sorcery and horror to keep the attention of fans of the weird tale genre without getting too bogged down with unpronounceable names and the myriad tentacled monstrosities of most Mythos fiction.

Mr Elflandsson spins a good yarn and it was an enjoyable ride to read his novel, but I think people expected too much from this young writer and he fell short. Even so, his prose is modern and lean, with only a few stylistic nods to the genre (e.g., “gibbous” moons abound in this tale) and I would like to see where he would have taken his fiction after a couple of novels and I would also like to read his short stories, if I can hunt them down.

If I can find one at a reasonable price I would love to procure a copy of the Donald M Grant hardcover edition of “The Black Wolf”. The Randy Broecker illustrations alone are worth it, being grotesquely gorgeous and surprisingly not at all represented on the Internet as far as I can see. If you find this book in your local bookstore, do yourself a favor and buy it!