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The Woodwitch

3.61  ·  Rating details ·  106 ratings  ·  22 reviews
Andrew Pinkney is a young English solicitor’s clerk with boyish good looks and a gentle manner. But he also has a dark side. When his girlfriend Jennifer laughs at his impotence, he lashes out in a violent rage, knocking her unconscious. At the suggestion of his employer, Andrew heads to an isolated cottage in the dark Welsh countryside to take a break and get a grip on hi ...more
240 pages
Published 1989 by Sceptre (first published January 1st 1988)
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Average rating 3.61  · 
Rating details
 ·  106 ratings  ·  22 reviews

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Oct 26, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Fans of quiet, psychological horror
Shelves: valancourt-books
I just finished this literary gem and I don't even know what to think! This nasty little ball of maggots, flies and mushrooms is still bouncing around inside my head.
If you follow CHC, then you may have seen one of these earlier this week. For the rest of you, let me introduce you to the stinkhorn mushroom.

(This is the tamest picture I could find.) Now this may make you chuckle, it certainly made me. But laughter is where it all started; a woman laughed at Andrew Pinkney, and why? Because his m
Michelle F
Alternatively titled (in my brain):
Phallus Accusations: One Aspiring Fun Guy's Field Guide to the Stinkhorn, and Other Adventures on the Welsh Countryside

Never mind my star rating for a moment, the writing in this book was fantastic. There is an off-ness spotted through the beginning that blooms and creeps and spreads, slowly covering everything with a dark moist foulness. The Woodwitch is sinister and deeply disturbing.

Andrew's girlfriend laughs when he is unable to consummate their relationshi
May 04, 2015 rated it really liked it
Andrew Pinkney, angered by his inability to consummate his relationship with his girlfriend, Jennifer, strikes out in a moment of anger. As a result of this, he is "encouraged" to take some time off, in a remote cottage in the Welsh countryside.

Alone with only his dog, Phoebe, the failure of his manhood in that singular moment with Jennifer becomes an obsession with him. He discovers the stinkhorn--a fungi that physically resembles an erect phallus--the irony being that Andrew's own impotence wa
Anthony Vacca
Mar 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A forced sabbatical to a Welsh backwater proves productive for a sexually disgraced solicitor who decides to worship the stinkhorn mushroom. This phallic symbol isn’t the only thing putrid-smelling in The Woodwitch, as the protagonist’s increasing derangement leads to cultivating a dead badger for maggots and a ghastly tryst with a needle-toothed teenager who breeds dogs. Gregory’s impressive second novel is a psychological study that reads like occult body horror. Each page is dense with descri ...more
Andi Rawson
Dec 15, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

Always poetic, Stephen Gregory takes us on a journey through the damp and isolated woods of Wales. The main character, Andrew Pinkney, is a normal bloke with a normal job and a normal girlfriend and a normal life in Sussex. At least until his slightly prudish girlfriend finally gives in to his affections and is subsequently surprised by his limp lack of enthusiasm. With an even greater shock, her laughter elicits blind rage from a man who has failed to rise to the challenge and con
The flaccid villain
collecting maggot fodder
lewd fungus envy.
Jun 24, 2020 rated it really liked it
This is Stephen Gregory's second novel. I read his first years ago, "The Cormorant," which is equal parts gloomy and creepy and this one is both of those and perhaps even more disturbing.

I've read a number of novels with this general plotline -- someone isolates themselves from the world in a rural cottage, maybe with a past they're trying to escape, there's a strong sense of place and nature...then...creepy stuff ensues. Of course, this is one of the most unoriginal set-ups in the horror genre,
Andi Rawson
Dec 27, 2014 rated it really liked it
Review of The Woodwitch by Stephen Gregory ***spoilers***
Always poetic, Stephen Gregory takes us on a journey through the damp and isolated woods of Wales. The main character, Andrew Pinkney, is a normal bloke with a normal job and a normal girlfriend and a normal life in Sussex. At least until his slightly prudish girlfriend finally gives in to his affections and is subsequently surprised by his limp lack of enthusiasm. With an even greater shock, her laughter elicits blind rage from a man who
Jul 30, 2014 rated it did not like it
Shelves: fiction
I feel like I am missing something here because this book has great reviews. The writing was smooth and descriptive, although repetitive at some points. But I feel like it was all about penises... The whole book centers around the main character's shame about not being able to 'get it up' and do the do. After reading the book I feel as haunted by the phallic mushrooms as the main character. ...more
Boris Cesnik
Jul 06, 2014 rated it really liked it
Very good book. Quite original. Not really horror, I would call it macabre and eerie.

The writing flows perfectly. I really enjoyed reading it even if there isn't much dialogue (sort of Poe style...let's say).

Despite the fact that it was written in the late 80s I consider it quite refreshing even today.

I like the author's style, sometimes literal otherwise simply readable.

The story itself is not what you would expect from the short synopsis you can read online or on the back cover.

It may not be
Nov 08, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A fascinating, horrifying, disturbing novel, quite unlike anything I've read before. This upset me greatly in places (if you've read it, you'll probably guess where) but I kept reading, desperate to see how the litany of revulsion would be concluded - or perhaps consummated would be a more apt descriptor. Truly extraordinary, and beautifully written, too. ...more
Mar 07, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
i wasn't entirely sure what was going on in this book so giving it four stars seems strange... but i couldn't stop reading it, so there's that...Gregory definitely has a powerful way of writing, and his affectation of repeating a phrase or sentence a paragraph or two later is odd but it also woks... so, the story of a regular guy who assaults his female friend, then gets a company cabin in the Wales countryside to "expiate" his deed and hopefully return refreshed... huh. well, it was that, and i ...more
He kept his erections on the fireplace mantle...

No spoilers: 3 stars. Warning to some readers: this is a rather explicit review...

Andrew Pinkney has a problem. He wants to have an intimate relationship with his love interest Jennifer but he can't...

After attempting to sleep with her and failing... she uproariously laughed at him and he punched her in the face...

Because they were both lawyers in the same law firm, the boss said one of them had to take some time off so they could both cool down...
Tom Goulter
Oct 24, 2019 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jul 07, 2020 rated it it was ok
I was excited to read this book after reading the reviews for this book and his other works. Well, to say I was letdown is pretty accurate. The story plods along, stacking weird imagery with synonyms for 'penis' and 'erection' and some gory descriptions of decay and maggots. The plot is weird: A guy fails to 'rise' to the occasion when his girlfriend finally decides to go all the way with him. She laughs at this, he gets angry, decks her, and is sent to his boss's cabin in Wales. There he finds ...more
Dec 20, 2019 rated it it was ok
What. The. Fuck. I have no words. This was just confusing and disgusting. We're talking about a character who is obsessed with his own phallus and mushrooms that resemble phalli, putrefying animals and the maggots he can shake out of them. There's male on female violence and a coupling of the same character and a very underage girl. This was just not fun, supremely gross and fucked. Probably the authors intention but I can't think of a single person that would enjoy reading this. A little ashame ...more
Aug 29, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
oh this is so not going to be for everyone...I actually had a lot of fun with it...
Dec 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A fungus and lots of insects. Dark, creeping horror. Love it!
Aug 08, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016, valancourt
This is the first book I've read that I cannot imagine recommending to a single person. In fact, I'm loathe to admit that I read the entire thing for fear of being required to explain myself. What, exactly, is wrong with me?

A word count summary of The Woodwitch (240 pages):

Stinkhorn - 146
Badger - 85
Maggots - 46
Eggs (we're not talking chickens here, folks) - 45
Erect - 35
Pupae - 22
Phallus - 21
Spores - 16
Putrefaction - 6

(Numbers thanks to the search function on my kindle)

Okay, so now you know what
Oct 18, 2017 rated it it was ok
I just didn't get this. I didn't like it, but forced myself to finish because I took the time to search this book out after reading some reviews and owed it to myself. Writing reviews for books like this are hard without revealing spoilers, but for the love of Christmas! (view spoiler) ...more
Eric Henderson
Apr 17, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Unsettling, upsetting, disturbing, and often disgustiing. This book was very uncomfortable to read, and I'm glad it wasn't much longer. The setting is a place you don't want to be, the characters are people you don't want to know, and the events are things you don't want to hear about, but apart from that, it's really, really good. ...more
Jul 13, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2015
Decadent and often repulsive; also oddly compelling and elegantly written. Can't say I would recommend this to anyone, but in the end I'm glad I finished it (was ready to give up 50 pages in). If you enjoy delving into the dark heart and mind of a psychopath, this might be for you...? ...more
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Jun 19, 2019
Rupert Breheny
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Jan 03, 2020
Matthew Bielawa
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Jul 06, 2019
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Oct 31, 2013
Hillary Tyson
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Jan 09, 2020
Steven Doby
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Mar 31, 2020
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Dec 25, 2019
Maryna Moynihan
rated it it was ok
Aug 03, 2014
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Valancourt Books: The Woodwitch (1988) by Stephen Gregory 6 16 Dec 16, 2014 06:45AM  
Don't waste your time 1 18 Jun 06, 2008 10:53AM  

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Stephen Gregory (b. 1952) was born in Derby, England, and earned a degree in law from the University of London. He worked as a teacher for ten years in various places, including Wales, Algeria, and Sudan, before moving to the mountains of Snowdonia in Wales to write his first novel, The Cormorant (1986), which won Britain’s prestigious Somerset Maugham Award and drew comparisons to Poe. The book w ...more

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