Nethescurial by Thomas Ligotti (1991)
Tuesday’s Tale of Terror March 21, 2017
Are you in need of reading a wild yarn? The real and the unreal, swirling freely and madly about. Take a ride into darkness. Be brave. If any author can satisfy these desires, it’s Thomas Ligotti. Some critics say that Ligotti’s work requires re-reading. I can attest that my second read of this tale dug deeper and I enjoyed it all the more. Some might prefer to read this as non-literal. One thing I can promise is that Nethescurial will hold you to the spot. Maybe it all psychosis (no explicit violence) but it’s undoubtedly a jolt to the consciousness with lots of philosophy. The emotional effect is shock. The psychological impact, mesmerizing. You will be unnerved in full Ligotti style.
The story is framed from four narratives: the ancient cult of the Nethescurial; Dr. N.; Bartholomew Gray; and the narrator.
Here is the lonely island of Nethescurial in the northern hemisphere.
…contorted rock formations; pointed pines and spruces of gigantic stature and uncanny movements; the masklike countenance of sea-faring cliffs; and a sickly, stagnant fog clinging to the landscape like a fungus.
Our narrator is recounting a story (epistolary writing) of a manuscript he found that was written by a Mr. Bartholomew Gray during his visit to Dr. N, an archeologist who was living on the island. Dr. N lived in a primitive house built of leprous stones and no windows. Dr. N has excavated a buried treasure on the island—a piece of a dismembered hand-carved religious idol from the Nethescurials.
Gray’s goal is to reassemble the idol to wholeness and revive its powers. Only one more piece is needed. And Dr. N possesses the last piece. Ancient cults (Lovecraftian style), dark truths, murder, visionary intrusions, a secret door, apocalyptic, a dash of madness, this story is twisty horror. Do you believe in transcendent evil?
Remember this chant:
In the rooms of houses . . . across moonlit skies . . . inside each star and the voids between them … within blood and bone, through all souls and spirits. . . behind the faces of the living and the dead …
I normally don’t rate my featured short stories here, but this cosmic adventure is a 5-star literary achievement.
Click to read the short story at Ligotti.net.
Click to listen to the audio at YouTube.
Thomas Ligotti is a contemporary American author. He writes “philosophical horror” with nihilistic themes. His works have received high praise from NY Times, LA Times, Washington Post, and The New Yorker.
Interview with Ligotti at TeemingBrain.com “I Was Born to Fear.”
The Horror of the Unreal. The New Yorker.
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