DARK SANCTUARY. H. B. Gregory.

DARK SANCTUARY. London: Rider & Co., n.d. [1940]. Octavo, pp. [1-6] 7-288, original black cloth, spine panel stamped in gold. First edition. "When his father is suddenly taken ill, Tony Lovell returns to the Abbey, his ancestral home on the remote island of Kestrel off the Cornish coast. Confronted with his father’s seeming insanity, Tony is determined to learn the truth behind the curse that has plagued his family since the reign of Henry VIII. Kestrel is, in fact, all that remains of the ancient land of Lyonesse, the site of Merlin's castle, where the wizard managed to summon and trap a monstrous elemental of pure evil from the Outer Darkness, the primordial chaos that lies behind the veil of earthly reality. Unwittingly, Tony becomes the dupe of Nicholas Gaunt, the leader of a satanic order who is gifted with mystical powers, and his accomplice Simon Vaughan, a defrocked priest. By initiating Tony into the order, Gaunt intends to release the elemental from Kestrel so it can wreak havoc on all mankind and bring about the kingdom of Satan on Earth. Michael Bennett, a local rector, and Valerie Bennett, his niece, assist John Hamilton, a journalist and poet who is Tony's closest friend, in his attempts to save Tony's soul and stop Gaunt from destroying the world. A devout Anglo-Catholic, H. B. Gregory uses his detailed knowledge of liturgical matters, particularly the Eucharist, effectively throughout DARK SANCTUARY to sustain a distinct other worldly atmosphere in which Christian and satanic forces struggle for supremacy. His account of a black mass in which a communion wafer spouts blood after Tony stabs it with a ceremonial dagger is especially chilling. Likewise, his characterization of Tony is strikingly original since the troubled young man is able to draw power, depending upon his given bent, from both Satan and God to combat the formless elemental that lurks in the caverns beneath the Abbey. The amorphous subterranean evil in DARK SANCTUARY is conceptually similar to the supernatural entities in Adrian Ross’ THE HOLE OF THE PIT (1914) and Eleanor Ingram’s THE THING FROM THE LAKE (1921) with which the novel also shares thematic concerns. A compelling mixture of Dennis Wheatley and Charles Williams with a dash of H. P. Lovecraft, DARK SANCTUARY is a highly entertaining occult thriller of the period, superior in every way to the vastly overrated work of Gregory’s contemporaries Mark Hansom and R. R. Ryan, neither of whom actually wrote a good book." - Boyd White. "Perhaps the best of the British thrillers." - Karl Edward Wagner, Twilight Zone, June 1983. Locke, A Spectrum of Fantasy, p. 96. Reginald 06343. Not in Bleiler (1948; 1978). Mild bump and rubbing at upper spine end, a bright, nearly fine copy in very good pictorial dust jacket with light wear along top and bottom edges, mild evidence of removal of a price sticker from the spine panel, and clipped price. This book is virtually unobtainable in its jacket. (#164587).

Price: $6,000.00

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