HOLY TERRORS – Arthur Machen


Arthur Machen’s knack was revealing the mystic in the everyday humdrum. His subtly supernatural tales lift a veil on reality every time, and the best of his stories in this collection absolutely buzz with a sense of transformation.

Machen’s early triumphs (The Novel Of The White Powder is a fine example) were heavily influenced by Robert Louis Stevenson, though he soon found his own voice, epitomised by the morbid and mystical short novel Hill Of Dreams.

By some quirk of literary fate Arthur Machen is chiefly remembered for one of his lesser efforts, The Bowmen, a propaganda short with ghostly 15th-century English archers helping their WW1 compatriots repel German troops at the Battle of Mons. Published in the first year of the Great War, the story ran away with itself and Machen found himself the unwitting creator of the widely believed Angel of Mons legend.

Machen’s best and best-known short stories – The Great God Pan, The Novel of The Black Seal etc etc – are frequently anthologised and appear in his two-volume Tales of Horror & The Supernatural. The Holy Terrors set is not Machen at his very best but is still nevertheless excellent and highly recommended to anyone enchanted by his world and words.