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Old 12-24-2015   #1
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James
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Sarban

This Christmas Eve I have read Ringstones by Sarban for the first time, as I heard he was influenced by Walter de la Mare and Arthur Machen, which struck me as my sort of thing given my passion for these authors, who at their best are among the select few unbeatable 'weird fiction' writers for their mystery-oriented style of supernatural fiction.

While at first I was somewhat suspicious of its strong imitation of Arthur Machen's ingenious Novel of the Black Seal, the story took its own turn and I found myself becoming increasingly unnerved. Sarban managed to make a walk in the country where nothing happened other than a character getting a bit dirty a deeply unnerving read.

Most Machen imitators remove his peerless when on form, reality-bending sense of numinous mystery and go for a more lurid retread of his ideas (even the great Lovecraft was arguably guilty of this with The Dunwich Horror), whereas Sarban nailed the subtle awe of Machen whilst at the same time achieving in the dialogue and characterisation a psychological story reminiscent of the ghostly fiction of Henry James or Walter de la Mare.

Needless to say, I have finished this story feeling hugely impressed and wouldn't mind either hearing other people's thoughts about this tale or whether Sarban's other fiction stacks up, as from this example he is my kind of weird fiction writer and it is a shame I can find next to nothing written about him or his work online.

'I believe in what the Germans term Ehrfurcht: reverence for things one cannot understand.'
― Robert Aickman, An Essay
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Question for Sarban fans max_renn General Discussion 14 05-13-2012 09:58 AM


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