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The House of Souls

3.71  ·  Rating Details ·  246 Ratings  ·  31 Reviews
Four of Machen's classic novellas (A Fragment of Life, The White People, The Great God Pan, and The Inmost Light) collected in one volume.
Paperback, 298 pages
Published January 12th 2010 by Nabu Press (first published 1922)
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Mike (the Paladin)
A lot of how one "feels" about a book and what one "thinks" about a book goes back to taste. I have stated elsewhere that I like H.P. Lovecraft. Machen is considered an influence on and a precursor of Lovecraft. I was already familiar (slightly) with The White People and The Great God Pan before finding this volume. I was never really taken with Machen, but picked this up from the library as part of a reading group (here).

The largest part of the book is taken up with or by the first novella A Fr
Aug 18, 2011 Sandy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I had been wanting to check out Arthur Machen's 1906 collection of short stories, entitled "The House of Souls," for quite some time; ever since I had read two highly laudatory pieces written about this work and its author. The first was H.P. Lovecraft's comments in his widely referred to essay "Supernatural Horror in Literature," in which he claims "Of living creators of cosmic fear raised to its most artistic pitch, few if any can hope to equal the versatile Arthur Machen." And, in Jones & ...more
Jim Smith
Life changing for me in its anti-materialist perspective. Would merit a five star rating if The Inmost Light weren't too similar to The Great God Pan to warrant being in the same collection. The latter and The White People are classics of the horror genre, but I will also single out for praise the non-horror story A Fragment of Life, which is awe inspiring.

Machen wrote a substantial amount of lesser material, but The House of Souls is one of his five essential books along with The Hill of Dreams
Mar 06, 2012 David rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Amazing book. The stories stayed with me for days, especially "The Inmost Light" and "The White People." The voice of the young girl from the latter story was masterfully crafted, and her haunting exploration of dark, ancient ceremonies left a real mark on me. Highly recommended for fans of the macabre.
Rhomboid Goatcabin
An absolutely astounding find! Machen's tales have lost not a bit of their original horror; their delicate and subtle crafting makes them a singular delight to read and add greatly to the suspense and fright. Devilishly thrilling!
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Perry Whitford
The House of Souls is the collection of Machen short stories that I promised myself I would try to read after recently plowing through a compilation of his grail studies and newspaper columns called The Glorious Mystery.

The ecclesiastical debates that dominated that book bored me, but the force and character of the writer shone through enough for me to want to give his fiction a go.

The first story here is a pretty effective summation of the worldview that emerged from those newspaper articles -
Jul 11, 2012 Eustachio rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Se Lovecraft parla di «profondi vuoti celesti», «oscure zone d'ombra», creature che si nascondono nelle profondità abissali, in altri universi, su pianeti senza nome e senza luce, Machen attinge a piene mani dal folklore celtico e pagano, e parla di fate, stregonerie, esperimenti per alterare la visione della realtà.
The House of Souls raccoglie il meglio di Machen, pare (se non altro i racconti più famosi): A Fragment of Life, The White People, The Great God Pan e The Inmost Light.

Come Lovecraft
Dec 17, 2011 Oscar rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is my introduction to Arthur Machen’s work. I have to admit that I knew very little about the writer and his work with the exception that he was one of Lovecraft’s influences, and that's usually enough to get my attention. I have read several of Lovecraft’s 19th century influences, and have to say, that most of those writers take some time getting used to as far as their prose style is concerned and Machen was no different. Machen’s prose like Lovecraft’s, actually, is over descriptive and ...more
I already reread The Great God Pan as a separate volume, so this is just about A Fragment of Life, The White People and The Inmost Light. I personally loved The White People and would recommend it to anyone. The other ones, not so much. His use of language is dreamy as always, but...The Inmost Light is a fairly okay story I suppose, but it's basically the same thing as the Great God Pan but with a much less effective feeling of horror. Spoiler; both stories are basically about men using women as ...more
Meh. I think I got this on my Kindle after reading the HP Lovecraft compendium and seeing this recommended, but I didn't really like it. It had potential, but he was way too vague about the horror - if you got annoyed when Lovecraft copped out and just said 'it was unspeakably terrible and I couldn't possibly describe it to you,' don't read this. Also, it really made me notice how most authors don't throw in lots of extraneous detail and dialogue that are totally unnecessary to the story, so tha ...more
Made it through A Fragment of Life and The White People and just couldn't do it anymore. The writing style itself wasn't too bad and the stories were decently interesting. However, the writing was... the best I can guess was that Machen would sit down high on opium during random parts of the story. If you have that elder relative who starts a story by talking about the dog, and it ends with a diatribe on the politics of South Africa, and you're not really sure how any points in the story joined ...more
Jeff French
It was difficult to decide how many stars to give this book. It is a collection of four short works, but of varying quality. The Great God Pan is outstanding. The Inmost Light is enjoyable also. I liked The White People, but it was a little longer than it needed to be. A Fragment of Life had to be one of the slowest moving, most boring, purposeless short works I have ever read. If I had read this one first, I might not have continued the book. Overall I enjoyed The House of Souls and will read s ...more
Dec 19, 2014 J.M. rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
So I'd read two of these stories previously-- the ones I'm reviewing here are "A Fragment of Life," and "The White People." The first is a conscious attempt, mostly successful, at bringing the otherworldly (the Ecstatic) out of thoroughly domestic details. There was less of the overtly grim or terrible, and more of the dreamy prose reminiscent of The Hill of Dreams. I happened to love "The White People," which has still more of Machen's beloved Ecstasy, in the diary of a girl's wanderings, in bo ...more
The White People -

poorly written piece that was salvaged by adding a new intro and epilogue at a later date (possibly). hated it.

The Great God Pan -

just because you like HP Lovecraft does not mean you will like this guy, who was pretty much on the weird fiction junior squad. this one was organized pretty bizarrely and not very atmospheric / chilling. not sure if i'm going to further explore this author; not worth the time.
Jay Dee
Dec 16, 2013 Jay Dee rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Boring, boring boring, extremely boring. And this is coming from someone who had to write down minutes of a meeting before he read this drivel. And the writing of minutes was better than the reading of this obscure, bland mess.

The Great God Pan was the only good story. I had read that before, though, so it didn't matter after I sloughed through the other crap preceding that story in this compendium. A waste of time.
Brendan Howard
Mar 07, 2012 Brendan Howard rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Brendan by: H.P. Lovecraft completists, horror historians
Shelves: unfinished, horror
I can appreciate a slow, plodding tale of weird horror and macabre happenings, but the first two works in this book have shown me that Machen will not move me enough to justify further reading. He is no Poe or even Lovecraft. I appreciate intellectually what he's doing, but he's not as skilled a writer as others.
Pieter Brouwer
Leuk om gelezen te hebben, gezien het een van de belangrijkste inspiratiebronnen was voor H.P. Lovecraft. Ik weet alleen niet of het gevoel van 'wat moet ik met dit verhaal / heb ik iets gemist?' positief of negatief moet uitleggen. Aparte sfeer, maar verhalen zitten niet altijd goed in elkaar.
Mike Cook
Jan 17, 2017 Mike Cook rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A must for fans of classic horror.

A little hard to follow at times with the changing characters but worth the effort. I recommend this to writers of the horror genre as a staple in their pursuit of mastering the darker side of fiction.
Nov 14, 2014 Michael rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kindle-e-books
Classic Gothic horror existed beyond Stoker and even Lovecraft. Machen may be a bit dry in spots but The Great God Pan is truly the reason to own this.

For a glimpse of what horror used to look like you can't go wrong with this collection and it's free as a Kindle ebook
Feb 01, 2012 arg/machine rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Classic tales of horror from Machen, including The Great God Pan. In the public domain, with a free electronic copy available here.
Cooper Renner
Closer to 2.5 stars. Four stories, two of which--especially "The Great God Pan"--are quite interesting. The first two are immensely yawn-inducing; well-written work which on almost every page leaves one thinking, "So?" But "Pan" is very fine indeed.
Sep 24, 2012 Godzilla rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: horror, 2012, kindle

A collection of short stories, with rather mixed results. A couple never really got going, but I enjoyed The Great God Pan, it built in a creepy fashion, and there was a greater degree of tension in this story.
Its reminiscent of Lovecraft, but without being as punchy and sharp.
Jul 09, 2012 Carolyn rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: a-good-one-yes
Speechless, awesome, I can't think straight. Once again Arthur Machen just> BLEW MY MIND! WOW. READ IT Horror and thriller fans. Trust me.
Jun 12, 2012 JP rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Interesting - pre-Lovecraft existential horror. Free on PRoject Gutenburg.
May 23, 2015 Ralph rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Five stars for the White People on its own.
Jeff Hobbs
Read so far:

A fragment of life --
The white people --
The great god Pan --
The inmost light --
Jhonny Cage
Thick... has a faint pervasive super-naturalism working for it. Could've been my expectations trying to attain some form of redemption.... hmm..
BJ Haun
Apr 14, 2012 BJ Haun rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: did-not-finish
Forced myself through the first story, and it was pretty terrible. Started on the second one and doesn't seem to be much better. Throwing in the towel on this one.
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Arthur Machen was a leading Welsh author of the 1890s. He is best known for his influential supernatural, fantasy, and horror fiction. His long story "The Great God Pan" made him famous and controversial in his lifetime, but The Hill of Dreams is generally considered his masterpiece. He also is well known for his leading role in creating the legend of the Angels of Mons.

At the age of eleven, Mache
More about Arthur Machen...

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“Holiness requires as great, or almost as great, an effort; but holiness works on lines that were natural once; it is an effort to recover the ecstasy that was before the Fall. But sin is an effort to gain the ecstasy and the knowledge that pertain alone to angels, and in making this effort man becomes a demon.” 2 likes
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