Mark Samuels

Witch-Cult Abbey – Mark Samuels



Part Two of this review as continued from

My previous reviews of Mark Samuels here: and of this publisher here:

When I read this book, my thoughts will appear in the comment stream below…

24 responses to “Mark Samuels

  1. Pages 148 – 150

    “to reply upon one’s memory’
    — like the chalkmarks made by Saul, whatever the indeterminate amount of time passing, as signposts to prevent the routes of his solitary excursions within the Abbey becoming lost amid its fluid interiors… while he wonders where its denizens and their leeches hang out within such amorphousness of structural prehensility, an emotion-sickness matching that of the books’ own lack of dependability.

  2. Pages 150 – 152

    “Were it only the case my memory was infallible! That, having once perused a volume, I could then conjure up in my mind all of its myriad details.”

    My answer to my own ever-fallible memory since I can remember, is to write these real-time reviews of the books I read so that I can preserve them (even if I sell or gift them elsewhere afterwards) to help with my version of Saul’s “battle for wisdom” and for “all eternity and infinity” that I naïvely call a battle for ‘gestalt’…
    I can also certainly empathise with the powerful evocations for us of his fearfulness at the grim amorphous Abbey structures and mazes (as well as the equally grim and amorphous books he was meant to catalogue) and with his own action in changing his ‘homebase’ where he subsists, in order hopefully to out-trick such unruly walls and passageways upon his next excursion into them.

  3. Pages 139 – 140

    “Yet I must attempt to impart what information I can, even if it be inchoate, lest certain suggestive points within those further experiences be lost to futurity.”

    That yearning for posterity again. And what I feared earlier in this review (by checking, I see it was on 6 August above) has still not been resolved at all, despite my having had a short sabbatical from this book so that it might be able to regroup itself, i.e. to reconfigure what was still unread by me even if it was already seemingly printed and thus immovably sacrosanct when or if in a sane world…
    The convoluted madness is still prevalent in the terms of that 6 August review entry. The ‘scheme’ of the so-called ‘witch-cult’ panning out towards an “ultimate insanity” not yet fulfilled and surely nothing will stop it now! Unless I stop reading this book for good and all?

  4. In fact I seem to have gone backwards without realising it!

  5. BEWARE SPOILERS below, at least partly in the ‘prior’ shape of the aLphonsus WIntErS that is my own justified or unjustified paranoia…

    Pages 153 – 156

    Back on almost reluctant track, the worst I had feared awaited the reader as well as its protagonist, with no escape by means of the monk’s cell in real Iife (nor by means of this book’s new ‘homebase’ within the alphabet’s ever-starting ‘a,b’ as ‘abbey’), a monk’s cell that is not failsafe, as he is faced with his own alphabet of writings within the actual desiccated womb of the still mobile woman who led the witch cult. Not so much a nightmare of paranoia (which it is for us as well as for SAmUeLs as protagonist) but hopefully the beginning of a catharsis of such paranoia by seeing that he had written her into existence to appear thus utterly real when she wasn’t — when in truth no monster on either side of this battle ever existed at all?

  6. Towards the Haven


    Pages 161-162

    My hopes above — and at least part of the leasehold protagonist’s or would-be freehold author’s hopes — are dashed: “…I had delineated an innermost hell. And if I had written the words unknowingly, who, had dictated their final form if not Lilith Blake?” Hopes dashed at least for a mere nonce, I hope! Time to cut my losses in half….
    Yet, the ultimate freehold first-mover is Lilith Blake? And, as explicitly speculated about here, the witch-cult had already ignited an inferred autonomous Zeno’s Paradox of machinations radiating from the work entitled ‘The White Hands’ across our lands, the hell of which we are reaping now?

  7. Pages 162-163

    “: for is not a book a labyrinth and is not thought a maze — twists and turnings determined solely by an arrangement of words in a particular order? And might not Thool Abbey, like the universe itself, harbour some secret language of its own, …” (my bold)

    The Ultima Thule…
    Amazing inadvertent correlation with a concurrent review just completed this morning HERE before reading these pages. Three explorations of a labyrinth or maze, two of them in the other book seeking an inspiringly child-like hopeful crux of Thule with inspiration by irony as well as by a ripping yarn, and here another crux of Thule involving a supposed witch cult fabricated by a book and events about books by both….

  8. By a route obscure and lonely,
    Haunted by ill angels only,
    Where an Eidolon, named Night,
    On a black throne reigns upright.
    I have reached these lands but newly
    From an ultimate dim Thule –
    From a wild weird clime, that lieth, sublime,
    Out of Space – out of Time.

    — Edgar Allan Poe, from ‘Dream-Land’ (1844)

  9. I am taking another indeterminate sabbatical from this book, and I will announce my resumption of the real-time review by means of the specific Witch-Cult Abbey thread on Thomas Ligotti Online.

  10. Pages 163 – 172 (186)


    This section is a tour de force in “infernal heaven”, a horror genre apotheosis but one that crawls back and somehow becomes real despite all the overt artifice of the words, literally oozing literary evil, and, for me, full of half-envisaged art-installations and fabrications with text on papier-mâché faces, white-fingered spiders, a sense of the doppelgänger and the utter paranoia not only of Saul but also the reader as I, for one, feel I may have been instrumental in the witch-cult and have been written into my own share of it or obliged yet to write my own share of it to be added to it as it is never too late to join this state of Nullimmortalis immortalised here by Saul. So if I seem to finish this review by now having read this penultimate chapter and even the final chapter as coda, it shall never become my last ever real-time review. That is now an unobtainable ambition despite my prior ploys above, because I have so many more to write, indeed SOME FUTURE ONES ALREADY WRITTEN, including the continuation of this particular review in perpetuo moto because, whatever I become, I will write more of it as aided and abetted by a younger Saul (whose work, after all, it wholly is) or even by a select few of the Ultima Thool denizens, each of them variably good and bad…


  11. “Elmo found, as have many, that the death of the heart corrupted the pen into writing a farrago of horrors and insanities, not necessarily the less true for their seeming extravagance, but inaccessible for the most part to the prudent.”
    — Robert Aickman (Niemandswasser)

    I re-read, by chance, this story today after many years, and hopefully I shall be reviewing it later.

  12. Some of this possibly needs cross-referencing with Daniel Mills here as a mutual synergy, whether preternatural or not —

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