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Our Lady of Darkness [Paperback]

Fritz Leiber


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Book Description

October 1978
Middle-aged San Francisco horror writer Franz Westen is rediscovering ordinary life following a long alcoholic binge. Then one day, peering at his apartment window from atop a nearby hill, he sees a pale brown thing lean out his window…and wave.

This encounter sends Westen on a quest through ancient books and modern streets, for the dark forces and paramental entities that thrive amidst the towering skyscrapers of modern urban life…and meanwhile, the entities are also looking for him.

A pioneering work of modern urban fantasy, Our Lady of Darkness is perhaps Fritz Leiber’s greatest novel.
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Distribution Services; New edition edition (October 1978)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0006148611
  • ISBN-13: 978-0006148616
  • Product Dimensions: 18 x 11.8 x 1.6 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 100 g
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #2,344,873 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

For an accomplished pro like Leiber, a sorry performance. A hack writer of horror stories, recovering from a three-year alcoholic binge with the aid of a pure and lovely harpsichordist, cottons on to some funny influences on the loose in his 'Frisco apartment. It all started with a long-ago weirdo who wrote a volume of dark mutterings against the sinister spiritual forces in modern cities. Leiber can toss off a polished phrase or - with disturbing frequency - a purple inanity. The plot, which involves an occult booby-trap laid fifty years ago for none other than Clark Ashton Smith, has enough loose ends to cover Colt Tower in double macrame. (Kirkus Reviews)

About the Author

FRITZ LEIBER, who died in 1992, was one of the most important SF and fantasy writers of the century.
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 3.3 out of 5 stars  15 reviews
41 of 49 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Lovecraft's Horror updated to the Mid-Twentieth Century June 29 2001
By Dave Deubler - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Leiber takes a stab at modernizing the H.P.Lovecraft school of horror in this peculiar novel of mid-twentieth century San Francisco. The story revolves around one Franz Westen, recovering alcoholic and horror writer, whose fascination with the steep, solitary hill called Corona Heights leads him into the creepy world of Thibault de Castries, an eccentric mystic. Anarchist, founder of a secret order, and theorizer of the dreaded paramental entities, de Castries' power has touched the lives of many of San Francisco's most illustrious citizens. Can Franz somehow keep from being drawn into its tantalizing maw?
Leiber does an excellent job of migrating Lovecraft's growing disquiet to mid-twentieth century urban angst, theorizing the existence of dark forces that draw their power from the mass aggregations of metal, electricity and lost humanity that compose our great cities. Still, it's difficult to keep an air of suspense for any great length of time, and much of this book is just a slow buildup without very much tension. Leiber has too much good material here for a short story, but as it stands, the novel could have been cut by 50 pages or more without much loss. For example, the protagonist's friends Gunnar and Saul, who appear in so many scenes, don't do anything and really have no function, while the romantic interest, the intellectual Calpurnia, is usually absent despite the critical role she plays.
If you're a big fan of Lovecraft, give this review an extra star - you'll really enjoy Leiber's new take on some classic themes. Add another if you're really into San Francisco's geography and/or literary history, because this book has lots of both. So if you find that you fit the fairly narrow target audience this book seems to have been written for, you'll probably love this novel. This reviewer didn't.
19 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Literate and Intricate Nov. 28 2010
By Thomas Parker - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
I'm not sure what those who slight this book were looking for - maybe Stephen King horror/populism or Clive Barker fashionable extremisim. It certainly isn't any of those. What it is is literate, atmospheric, intricate, subtle, slyly humorous, and character-driven. It's well worth a read.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of my favorite fantasy/suspense books of all time. Dec 27 2010
By J. Furr - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
If you like veins-in-your-teeth horror, this isn't for you. But if you like extraordinarily well-written, deeply unsettling fiction that captures its setting and action so vividly that a later trip to the actual locale revealed no surprises, then this IS for you. After reading "Our Lady Of Darkness" I happened to have a chance to travel to the Corona Heights park in San Francisco and other locales depicted in the book and went "Wow. Leiber REALLY captured this place." Few authors could have equalled the visionary characteristics of Leiber's writing. I recommend this book to all my friends.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Atmospheric and gripping Feb. 20 2008
By Charlie Brown - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
This is a fine example of the modern horror novel. Having lived in San Francisco in the 1970s (as did Leiber), I responded very positively to the authentic setting and even took out a map to check the sites. The main characters (Westen, Cal and Donaldus) were believable and I cared about them. The connections with occult scholarship and earlier weird fiction added other dimensions. The writing seemed a bit careless at times, so perhaps this book was written in a hurry. But I recommend it to Stephen King or Dean Koontz fans who wish to sample other recent dark fantasy.
9 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars American occultism Oct. 25 2010
By Megan N. Woodrum - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
I really disagree with the reviews written about this book, for multiple reasons.

While this book does have a philisophical bent, it is more musings on the nature of insanity and reality and the possibility of cities creating their own special brand of supernatural, deemed "paramental" in the book.

The book is very reminiscent of Crowley's "Diary of a Drug Fiend," even mentioning him by name a few times. The writing style is very similar, which could perhaps may cause some readers problems in really becoming engrossed. However, about halfway through the book when the main character begins to truly study the mystery of the paramental, the story becomes very quick and engaging.

While labeled "urban fantasy" it is more in line with horror, and even more specifically, it is dealing with a new breed of occult, something that La Vey and Crowley had a serious hand in. I actually really love this book, and I'm incredibly happy I picked it up despite the reviews I read.

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