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Carnacki the ghost-finder

3.77  ·  Rating details ·  1,817 ratings  ·  207 reviews
Carnacki, the Ghost-Finder is a collection of supernatural detective short stories by author William Hope Hodgson. It was first published in 1913 by the English publisher Eveleigh Nash. In 1947, a new edition of 3,050 copies was published by Mycroft & Moran and included three additional stories. The Mycroft & Moran version is listed as No. 52 in Queen's Quorum: A ...more
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Published by Sphere (first published 1913)
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Average rating 3.77  · 
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Bill Kerwin

Not as good as his House on the Borderlands, but enjoyable and worthwhile nonetheless. These stories improve in quality as the book progresses, beginning with the hackneyed gothic claptrap of "The Thing Invisible" and ending with stories of true cosmic terror.

Carnacki himself is an interesting transitional figure, an eccentric bachelor in the Holmesian mode, who--although relying on his intellect and expertise--yet seems, at bottom, lonely and filled with self-doubt in the wake of his uncanny
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David
Jan 04, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Edwardian ghost-hunters, detectives who hunt Cthulhu
William Hope Hodgson's stories were apparently published during the boom of detective fiction that followed the popularity of Sherlock Holmes, and Hodgson more or less follows Doyle's formula: each Carnacki story involves Carnacki going to investigate some unusual occurrence and using detective work to figure out what's going on. The difference is that Carnacki uses occult techniques as well as "scientific" instruments such as the "Electric Pentacle," and some of his cases actually turn out to ...more
Simon
Starting off strong, I was struck by the effectiveness of Hodgson's writing. He tells a good ghost story, if not as subtle and gradual a build up as M.R. James, they are more tense and frightening, the supernatural forces (indeed, when they were supernatural) more malignant.

But after a while the foibles of his writing began to grate a little. For instance the tendency of Carnacki to constantly ask his listeners/reader "Do you follow?", "Can you possibly understand what I am trying to convey?",
...more
J.G. Keely
Another paranormal investigator in the tradition of Van Helsing, Dr. Hesselius, and John Silence, I was curious to see what Hodgson would do with the idea, especially after reading his House on the Borderland and finding it to be refreshingly uncanny. Unfortunately, the Carnacki stories are so flat and formulaic that they add very little to the subgenre.

Every case follows the same pattern: a group of men gather at Carnacki's house and sit around for a bit before he suddenly launches into his
...more
Mir
Mar 14, 2019 marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ghosts, gutenberg
I've read five of the Carnacki stories, but the edition I read, edited by Jeremy Lassen, mentions that they were reworked before being collected in this Eveleigh Nash volume, so perhaps I'll have a look and see how significant the differences are.

"Thing Invisible"
"Gateway of the Monster"
"House Among the Laurels"
"Whistling Room"
Searcher of the End House"

They are 50/50 supernatural vs human agency.
Shirley Revill
I really enjoyed listening to this audiobook and loved the backing music that occasionally crept into the story. This really added to the atmosphere of this chilling tale.
Sandy
Aug 18, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
British author William Hope Hodgson's "Carnacki the Ghost-Finder" first saw the light of day in 1913. Consisting of six short stories, drawn from the pages of "The Idler" and "The New Magazine," the collection was ultimately expanded to include nine stories, these last three being discovered after Hodgson's early death, at age 40, in April 1918. In this fascinating group of tales, we meet Thomas Carnacki, a sort of occult investigator in Edwardian London. Just as Carnacki seems to be patterned ...more
Arun Divakar
The old masters of horror writing have always excelled in creating the atmosphere which slowly creeps upon the reader. If as a reader, I were to imagine being trapped in a haunted house this is how such an author would have written it (in lay-prose perhaps) :

When I woke up in a cold sweat past two in the morning, I wasn't really sure what awakened me. The rain was still falling heavily outside and it drowned out all sounds. Well, not all of them for that was when I realized what awakened me was
...more
Jayaprakash Satyamurthy


'Complaints continue to reach us from all parts of the country to the effect that Mr. W. HOPE HODGSON's "Carnacki" stories are producing a widespread epidemic of Nervous Prostration! So far from being able to reassure or calm our nervous readers, we are compelled to warn them that "The Whistling Room", which we publish this month, is worse than ever. Our advertising manager had to go to bed for two days after reading the advance sheets; a proof reader has sent in his resignation; and, worst of
...more
Felix
When darkness fell and I encountered the frightening Casebook of Carnacki hinted at in certain passages of the Sigsand manuscript, a dreadful and intense feeling of acute boredom overcame me. It was like gazing into the abyss of repetition but a gaze effected with my "psychical" and not my "physical" eyes. Do you understand me at all? I made the seventh sign of the Saaamaaa ritual and could only hope that my electric pentacle would keep the yawning at bay, that my defences would hold - not like ...more
Lois Bujold
Aug 31, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Lois by: mentioned in another book
I wandered into this and a few more of its ilk via recs from the afterword of The Secret Casebook of Simon Feximal, which is among other things a pastiche of the period. That had an amusing bit featuring a club, the members of which are all assorted heroes of this then-popular genre. The edition of Carnacki I read was one of the, I believe, Project Gutenberg versions distributed for free on Amazon, and was well formatted and proofread.

It's done in a tales-told form, with the eponymous Carnacki
...more
James
Dec 16, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Thoroughly enjoyable series of Sherlock Holmes-meets-H.P. Lovecraft stories, written in the last years before WW1. An entirely disposable narrator re-relates the after-dinner stories of the eponymous Carnacki, an Edwardian flâneur who goes on holiday with his mother and has invented, in ingenious cod-occult detail, such essential ghost-hunting kit as the Electric Pentacle.

It is distinguished by three things. First is Carnacki’s insistence on relating the precise physiological symptoms of his own
...more
Charles Dee Mitchell
Although he had his predecessors, Sherlock Holmes’ appearance in the 1880’s set the pattern for the scientific investigation of crime. It did not take long for an occult element to be added to the genre. Algernon Blackwood anthologized his John Silence stories in 1908. In 1913, William Hope Hodgson collected his tales of Carnacki, the Ghost Finder.

Hodgson relates his stories in fine Edwardian style. An unnamed narrator is part of a group of gentlemen who assemble when summoned to the London home
...more
F.R.
Sep 23, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed this a lot, and at the end have the kind of feeling I would have had if I'd got to the end of 'The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes' and discovered there were no more stories.

True, some of the stories are hokey (particularly those where the hauntings are man-made, very Scooby Doo) and the character of Carnacki doesn't have much character at all.

However good horror runs through these stories, and the descriptions of the supernatural incidents are as spinetingling as any out there.

...more
Jim Smith
Jun 12, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Not exactly notable compared to Hodgson's cosmic masterpiece The House on the Borderland or the flawed classic The Night Land, and they lack the intellectual substance of Blackwood's John Silence tales, but I find them to be a whole lot of good silly fun.

I particularly like how terrified Carnacki gets when finally encountering traces of the supernatural, despite his fastidious preparation.
Karl Steel
Read this because Eugene Thacker uses some of it to good effect in In the Dust of This Planet .

I recommend several of the longer goodreads Carnacki reviews, which hit all the important points.

Odd to come at this after reading Lovecraft (or, for that matter, Ligotti). Unlike Lovecraft's heroes, Carnacki seems to have no special affinity for the otherworldly. He's a scientist, not a man of culture, and doesn't feel himself to be an outsider. There's nothing gothic or romantic about him, nor about
...more
Nev Murray
Nov 12, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favs
You're privileged again. 2 reviews of this one.

Review one: If you own a Kindle and read horror then you must get this......end of. IT IS FREE!!!!!!!

Review two: Thomas Carnacki is an Edwardian ghost hunter. Each time he goes on an adventure, when he returns he calls his 4 close friends Dodgson, Arkright, Jessop and Taylor to his house for dinner and a story. Carnacki is a very forthright chap. He is very set in his ways and can come across as curt in many instances but his friends keep coming
...more
Riju Ganguly
Jul 03, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
One of the first Occult Detectives whom I had encountered was Carnacki, the Ghost Finder. I had found the stories a tad overwritten and long-drawn, especially since the approach was rather Holmesian, which had inspired thoughts of adventures. Slowly, over a second and subsequent readings I came to realise, these stories were more into atmospheres than actual events. In these stories, its often your mind which becomes your enemy, electric pentacles and Saama rituals be ****ed.
And that's how I
...more
Del de la Mare
Dec 26, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: my-favourites
Loved this book, probably about 4th or 5th time I have read it. The Kindle version does not have 'The Hog' or 'The Haunted Jarvee' and 'The Find' but they are available separately.
My favourite stories are 'The Horse of the Invisible','Gateway of the Monster' and 'The Thing Invisible'.
I have read some criticisms of the style or nature of the writing, but I think you have to read books like this while bearing in mind that they are approximately one hundred years old.

Incidentally 'The Horse of the
...more
Mohammed Abdi Osman
Good collection of Carnacki stories, not William Hope Hodgson most compelling work but good enough written to enjoy the stories and the main character.
Denny
Oct 04, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: horror
I wish the rest of the book was as good as The Hog. As creepy as can be.
jzthompson
General Impressions:

I enjoyed this very much. Some stories were inevitably better than others, but overall slightly more than the sum of it's parts. Good use of atmosphere to build tension and nicely grounded in Edwardian occultism. Comparisons with Lovecraft are probably unfair on both, but the field is so crowded with squamous and eldritch fish-monsters it was interesting how the supernatural still has the power to shock when presented in less hackneyed forms.

The introduction - and a lot of
...more
Ralph
It's important to remember these tales of Thomas Carnaki, the "Ghost Finder," were written prior to the Great War, a conflict which WH Hodgson did not outlive,dying in 1918 at Ypres. In that light, the narrative style, that of an after-dinner story told to a group of friends is very much in keeping with the era, the same form affected by Wells for "The Time Machine" and Conrad for "The Heart of Darkness." Actually, Carnaki's friends serve as naught but props for the telling of the story, for the ...more
Ray
Jan 11, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: horror, edwardian
A disappointing collection overall. The main problem is that most of the stories are longwinded and boring. Hodgson clearly has a remarkable visual imagination but his pedestrian writing (at least in this collection) fails to convey his scenes with any vividness or excitement. Then there is the "fish or fowl" problem: some of Carnacki's cases are supernatural through and through; others appear to be supernatural at first but turn out to result entirely from human agency; while still others end ...more
Suvi
An interesting scientific approach that reminds me of Ghost Hunters and other modern day investigators, but there's a lot of referring to things that are never explained further, and the stories have very little variety case-wise. Carnacki goes to investigate, constructs a system of defence against the supernatural forces, and then either the supernatural force is vanquished or the whole thing is revealed to be a hoax.

It's all so formulaic that it makes me think whether Carnacki (who's an
...more
Wreade1872
This is a set of about a dozen stand alone ghost investigations. The potential peril is mitigated somewhat because Carnacki is telling the stories so you know he at least survived the horrors. This is classic monster of the week stuff, think xfiles, shewolf of london, kolchack the night stalker. Except that only some of the hauntings are real, others are fake and some are a bit of both. Author is able to get quite a bit of variety out of this setup but i have to believe he stole most of the ...more
Bbrown
Oct 29, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Hodgson’s Carnacki stories, despite featuring numerous affectations that add nothing, are kept intriguing by the question of whether the phenomena that Carnacki is experiencing are actually supernatural or whether they have a natural explanation (or if they’re a bit of both). This replaces the tension lost through Hodgson’s use of a frame narrative. These aren’t nearly as good as the mysteries of Sherlock Holmes, which Hodgson was obviously influenced by (especially evident in the story The ...more
Marianna
The gateway of the monster: 3*
The house among the laurels: 2*
The whistling room: 4*
The horse of the invisible: 4*
The searcher of the end house: 2*
The thing invisible: 3*
The hog: 4.5*
The haunted Jarvee: 5*
The find: 1*
Wonderful use of language, above all.
Michelle
Free from Gutenberg. The stories are not bad. The pattern has Carnaki encounter a problem, solve it, then brag to his friends about how brilliant he was in doing so. The situations are interesting but Carnaki himself comes across as a blowhard and I don't think I'd enjoy an evening in his company.

I also admit I kept getting distracted because every time I thought about the name "Carnaki" my mind kept hearing Ed McMahon saying, "I hold in my hand the envelopes..."
Roberta
It's been sitting on my virtual shelf too long, and October is a good month to read about ghosts.
Carnacki is surprisingly modern, with all his paraphernalia such as electric pentacles and photo-apparatus, but he still manages to tremble as a maid in the dark.
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William Hope Hodgson was an English author. He produced a large body of work, consisting of essays, short fiction, and novels, spanning several overlapping genres including horror, fantastic fiction, and science fiction. Early in his writing career he dedicated effort to poetry, although few of his poems were published during his lifetime. He also attracted some notice as a photographer and ...more
“I am not given to either believing or disbelieving things 'on principle,' as I have found many idiots prone to be, and what is more, some of them not ashamed to boast of the insane fact.” 0 likes
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