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26 of 27 people found the following review helpful
on October 22, 2002
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
I first read Wm. Hope Hodgson in the Ballantine fantasy reprint series edited by Lin Carter in the 1970's. Therein I discovered a brillant mind of the macabre for the first time, with his "House on the Borderland" and "The Night Land" a new master of the fantastic was given to me. I ended up back in those heady gothick days of ordering a British edition of "Carnacki, the Ghost Finder" and adoring every delicious page. Alternating between supernatural & rational explainations for the phenomena in tow, I was in ghost story heaven! A personal literary belief of mine, is that the ghost story is arguably the best expression of the elegance of the English language extant. Contained in "Carnacki" is the "The Whistling Room" my vote for the best ghost story of all time. An award I do not lightly give.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on May 30, 2004
Format: Paperback
I read this books first years ago, and only now remembered it is most deserving of a great review. The best description I can give of the stories of Carnacki the Ghost Finder is that he investigates stories with some great, classic gothic set-ups. He's something like a Sherlock Holmes of the supernatural, a concept I absolutely adore.
What's even better is that these stories were written by William Hope Hodgson (much admired by H. P. Lovecraft) in the early part of the 20th century (around 1910), so it still has that incredible Victorian feeling of horror, shrouded in antiquity and mystery, with a fantastic and classically spooky atmosphere. Basically, for gothic gaslight ambience, this is one of the most satisfying books you can read. Since it was actually written so long ago, it has none of the modern contrivances you find in books written today set back in that time.
There are a couple of different versions of Carnacki the Ghost Finder. One has only 5 stories, some have 6, and some have 9. I've read both the 6 story and 9 story version; obviously you should try and procure the 9 story version, which adds The Hog, The Haunted Jarvee, and The Find.
Of the stories, all of them are great reading, but my favorites are "The House Among the Laurels," one of the best haunted house short stories I've ever read, and the very Lovecraftian (though Hodgson pre-dates Lovecraft) "The Whistling Room." Other good stories include "The Gateway of the Monster" in which Carnacki bites off more than he can chew in a demonic encounter; "The Searcher of the End House," a frenetic search for the truth behind a ghost, and the unsettling "The Hog," and the nicely done atmospherics of "The Haunted Jarvee."
But the whole book is great. Check it out if you love that classic gothic atmosphere in your stories.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on July 25, 2002
Format: Paperback
I read Carnacki years ago as a child, and loved the first mixture of the supernatural and superscience. Carnacki's use of the Electric Pentagram and other devices feels like a Gothic Quatermass. I'm thrilled that they've been published again, and have fallen in love with them all over again as an adult.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on October 19, 2004
Format: Paperback
So you like tales of the ghostly and supernatural, do you? Well, for the discerning and literate, true terror is much more potent than most contemporary "horror" on the discount shelves. You need to discover the collected stories of M.R. James (there's a really pricey edition out there, but there are also cheaper versions available) and Hodgson's Carnacki stories. I'll just echo the reviewer who thought "The Whistling Room" one of the best, if not the best, ghost stories of all time: One of the scariest reading moments I've ever had came at the climax of that story the first time I ever read it--and even now, years later, it can STILL produce actual physical shivers when read over again. (While I'm at it, if you like James and Hodgson, move on next to Arthur Machen and Algernon Blackwood. Blackwood's short stories have been collected in two relatively easy-to-find volumes.)
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16 of 19 people found the following review helpful
on September 9, 2004
Format: Paperback
I found the book totally engrossing and chilling. What made it even more scary for me was the fact I've studied the paranormal and have had experience in it. Some of the stories in this book were closer to the truth than a lot of people realise. There's too much detail in some stories than what could be passed as fiction. The Whistling Room is one that tells more than a work of fiction should. Same for The Hog. This book is now among my favourites. Fantastic!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on May 15, 2007
Format: Paperback
When I discovered this book I was immediately excited from memories of the extraordinary 'House on the Borderland' and the evocative but arduous challenge of 'The Nightland'. Hodgson is a true visionary with imagery that has a vividness unusual for his time (in my experience any way).

In this collection of short stories you will find occult stories that hinted at Charles Williams. But there are stories reminiscent of Conan Doyle too. The fact that both of these were mixed in the one volume was somewhat unsettling in that I never knew whether I was reading a detective story (and they are ingenious) or a true dip into the occult.

other recommendations:
'The House on the Borderland' - WH Hodgson
'The Nightland' - WH Hodgson
'The Place of the Lion' - Charles Williams
'The Devil's Pool' - George Sand
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on April 8, 2002
Format: Paperback
William Hope Hodgson, who died in World War I as an artillery spotter exposing himself to danger, knew how to capture fear, the sheer, mind-numbing terror that can hide in the dark and the imagination. If a mad scientist on a dark and stormy night merged the essenses of Arthur Conan Doyle and Stephen King, the resulting creature would probably write stories similar to Carnacki.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on February 21, 2014
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
Carnacki is an investigator of hauntings. He is methodical in his techniques to confirm or disprove paranormal activity. He routinely attempts to photograph ghosts, gathers facts on the case, and even uses scientific tricks to confirm the veracity of certain phenomena, such as if doors really opened during activity. He is often called when owners of a home cannot deal with a haunting any longer. This sounds pretty conventional for today, which is why it is impressive that Carnacki, The Ghost Finder was published over a century ago in 1913.

Written by William Hope Hodgson as short stories for magazines between 1910 and 1920, Carnacki, The Ghost Finder collects six cases of the ghost hunter. Each case is written by a friend of Carnacki who recounts the ghost hunter retelling everything that happened through the course of the investigation, giving it an air of armchair reminiscence and a slight nod to Watson's retellings of the Sherlock Holmes adventures.

Carnacki is neither a Christian crusader nor a disbelieving scientist. He is methodical in his investigations, often using hairs or wax to tell if doors have actually opened while an area was locked and setting up unique tools like a camera triggered by a string. Some of his knowledge and ghost classification comes from the mysterious Sigsand Manuscript which he mentions, but Carnacki is hardly an occultist like you might see in Lovecraft or more modern works. Other than drawing circles or pentacles, he has no actual magical ability. He just uses what he has learned for defense and investigation. That is not to say that he is not without his innovations. One of the most intriguing ideas is Carnacki's Electric Pentacle. After noting that electricity appeared to enhance barriers against the paranormal, he merged it with the occult pentacle. Using vacuum tubes, the Electric Pentacle sends electricity continuously in the occult shape and is plugged into a battery within the protected area.

Carnacki himself is an interesting character. He isn't some Lovecraftian scholar, lost in his fear of the unknown, his brain locking up in the darkness. Carnacki is brave, but he is not full of bravado either - he clearly gets scared in the middle of the dark night, fearing things in the unknown and trying to stay immobile in his pentacle. The most dominant part of Carnacki's personality seems to be his can-do attitude. He always has a next thing to try, a new way to continue the investigation. Even when scared, he does not dwell, he merely rests and begins again.

Why haven't you heard of Carnacki before? The name comes up here and there, but mostly in more literary accounts that are usually talking of the history of the horror or supernatural genres. Rarely do you hear him mentioned as a recommendation for reading. William Hope Hodgson died at the age of 40 in World War I and his works fell into obscurity since then. Every decade or so there is a resurgence, and his works capture a few new readers. Though it seems obvious to suggest Hodgson influenced Lovecraft, the latter did not discover Hodgson's works until 1934, late into his career. Carnacki has only been adapted to the screen once, in an episode the 1970s TV series Rivals of Sherlock Holmes where Carnacki was played by Donald Pleasence.
It is impressive that the Carnacki stories are still quite readable for modern readers. Some works of that age come off stilted, slow, or lacking in bite due to all the things we've read in more modern works. But the Carnacki stories are still quite interesting and creepy. While there might be a few words that may be confusing or antiquated, the narrative voice is quite comfortable to read. The biggest drawback is that since this is Carnacki's account to a friend, every paragraph begins with a quotation mark and actual things said appear in nested quotes, which can be confusing at times. But outside of this small annoyance, the stories are still enjoyable to read without them feeling an uphill struggle.

Carnacki has passed into public domain at this point. You can find his stories free as an ebook. This also means that other authors are free to use him in their own works, as they have. Besides cameos in other works as varied as the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen and Doctor Who novels, you can find the further adventures of Carnacki written by a variety of authors. I can speak only for the original works, but if you have an ebook reader, there's no reason not to check him out, if not for the amazement value of a type of story so commonplace now occurring over a century ago.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Format: Paperback
The setup with this story collection is that Carnacki is a ghost buster, and every so often he invites a bunch of mates around for a genial evening at his place, involving dinner and drinks and a smoke, while keeping them waiting for the good bit.

The good bit being a retelling of one of his recent exploits, and pretty good quality stories they are.

Carnacki the Ghost Finder : 1 The Thing Invisible - William Hope Hodgson
Carnacki the Ghost Finder : 2 The Gateway of the Monster - William Hope Hodgson
Carnacki the Ghost Finder : 3 The House Among the Laurels - William Hope Hodgson
Carnacki the Ghost Finder : 4 The Whistling Room - William Hope Hodgson
Carnacki the Ghost Finder : 5 The Searcher of the End House - William Hope Hodgson
Carnacki the Ghost Finder : 6 The Horse of the Invisible - William Hope Hodgson
Carnacki the Ghost Finder : 7 The Haunted Jarvee - William Hope Hodgson
Carnacki the Ghost Finder : 8 The Find - William Hope Hodgson
Carnacki the Ghost Finder : 9 The Hog - William Hope Hodgson

A supernaturally wielded weapon means Carnacki has to resort to fairdinkum old fashioned plate and chain to survive this investigation.

4 out of 5

"Twice more was the dead cat...," as Carnacki waits in his defense pentacle for what comes, and finds a bet and a ring as part of it.

4 out of 5

Carnacki is actually forced to run away in this case, but discovers that it is really a Scooby Doo story, with nastier than cartoon miscreants.

3.5 out of 5

A noisy monster in a castle, as Carnacki investigates, has origins going back a rather long way.

3.5 out of 5

Carnacki, living with his mum sends her on her way when ghosts appear. Working out what is going on he decides moving is a good plan.

4 out of 5

Not good to be the first born girl in this family, it seems. A Scooby Doo hoaxer gets a bit of a shock in real ghostly fashion, as well.

3 out of 5

Weird electrical phenomena at sea suggest a psychic focus Carnacki tells his listeners.

3.5 out of 5

Rare book shenanigans.

3 out of 5

Carnacki tries out a new defense method in a case involving psychic attack by supernatural swine monsters.

4 out of 5
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on January 17, 2005
Format: Paperback
Wm. Hope Hodgson's Carnacki is thematically Holmes's occultly inclined first cousin, a cerebral, driven man who faces apalling supernatural danger (and some more mundane cases) with Edwardian super-science, self-admitted utter terror, and some truly dubious mediaeval manuscripts as guides.

The stories are great and often genuinely scary despite the somewhat trite language and cardboard characterisation. But Carnacki is refreshingly honest about his fears, making his efforts to deal with the 'ab-natural' often truly heroic.

This edition is well typeset in a large face that makes it very easy to read. Unfortunately, it is missing at least two of the Carnacki stories, 'The Haunted Jarvee' and 'The Hog'. These are admittedly two of the more fantastical of the the set but they are also, in my humble opinion, two of the best ('The Whistling Room' is the third of this troika of terror), so I was disappointed to make this discovery.

I am still looking for a complete collection of Carnacki.
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