Reviewed by: Sandra Scholes
Comedy horror has long been a staple of the English diet, and William Rosencrans’s Freaksome Tales takes us into the mind of Lovecraftian style writer V.V Swigferd Gloume. Here he is Gloume by name and by nature, known as the “Bard from Beyond,” he is supposed to rival Lovecraft and Poe, but as we have all come to realise, this is a parody of their work. Swigferd Gloume’s writing can be seen in pulp magazines such as Lewd Detective, and The Fleet Street Review and his unusual style has lasted a long time as you will see.
This particular volume is edited and introduced by William Rosencrans who just happens to be the founder of the Gloume Quarterly. In here are ten tales in order of publication that give readers not acquainted with his work an idea of how unusual and strange they are. From Hysteria Horrificans to The Veil Betwixt, Vile Sickness of This World Born Not, Flesh of my Flesh and the strangely titled Manuscript (Found Beneath a Service Pipe.) Gloume had his share of failure with publishers rejecting his work a staggering ninety-eight times. One such story, Hysteria Horrificans brings to our attention a certain Doctor Finrod Broakmuth, a man who had sworn an oath to heal anyone who needed his help. The story is an instant reminder of Lovecraft’s works and injects some well needed humour into it. One who has a dire view of women, he is studying hysteria in them and gets a letter from a Comtesse de Feuillade who is tormented by being alone and unhappy. Broakmuth, trapped in his own unhappiness and high on laudanum and other opiates unable to cope takes her up on her offer to help her, though his obvious love of opiates could serve to be his undoing. Like the others in this volume this is written in Lovecraft’s style but has considerable humour in it.
Other than the stories, on page 129 is a small collection of Gloume family photographs and their house on Frognal Rise, of Hortense and Egwidge Gloume, a very young Swigferd and others who parody the look of Lovecraft and Poe, and like the cover art their faces have been distorted using a computer paint package that strangely looks like Kai’s Power Goo. The Black Widow spider in the left hand corner is a nice touch as it is the only thing in colour.
For those who have read Lovecraft, it is easy to see where the inspiration has come from for most of the stories, and it’s great to read these freaksome tales with the humour in them so they are not so gloomy after all.