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THE WONDERSMITH AND OTHERS by Fitz-James O'Brien, edited, with an introduction, by Jessica Amanda Salmonson. Ashcroft, BC, Canada; Ash-Tree Press; 2008. 1st edition hardcover.

ISBN: 978-1-55310-106-2; xxiv+272pp.

Jacket art by Jason Zerrillo.


FITZ-JAMES O'BRIEN ranks with Edgar Allan Poe as one of the greatest writers of modern horror to emerge from the nineteenth century. The Wondersmith and Others collects for the first time in a single volume the complete macabre tales, dream stories, and fantasies of the Irish-Born American who, from 1852 until his death from a wound during the Civil War, was the pre-eminent writer of supernatural stories of his time.

In her detailed Introduction to this volume, Jessica Amanda Salmonson discusses the almost mystery-shrouded background of O'Brien's arrival in New York, the friends and acquaintances of his bohemian existence in the city, and the manner in which many of his stories, fantastic and horrific though they are, also satirise the newspaper and magazine industry of the time.

Such well-crafted tales as 'The Wondersmith', 'The Diamond Lens', 'Jubal, the Ringer', 'The Wonderful Adventures of Mr Papplewick', 'The King of Nodland and his Dwarf', and 'The Dragon-Fang Possessed by the Conjuror Piou-Lu' will thrill and chill, and introduce a new generation of readers to the work of this much overlooked author of the macabre.

CONTENTS: Introduction Fitz-James O'Brien: America's Splendid Bohemian by Jessica Amanda Salmonson;

MACABRE TALES: Proem: The Ghosts; The Lost Room; The Child That Loved a Grave; The Diamond Lens; The Pot of Tulips; The Bohemian; Seeing the World; What Was It? A Mystery; The Wondersmith; A Dead Secret; A Legend of Barlagh Cave; Jubal, the Ringer.

DREAM STORIES AND FANTASIES: Envoi; A Voyage in My Bed; A Terrible Night; A Day Dream; The Other Night; The Crystal Bell; How I Overcame My Gravity; Three of a Trade, or, Red Little Kriss Kringle; From Hand to Mouth; The Wonderful Adventures of Mr Papplewick; The Comet and I; A Man Without a Shadow; An Arabian Nightmare; The King of Nodland and His Dwarf; The Dragon-Fang Possessed by the Conjuror Piou-Lu.

Sources and Story Notes.

Fine in fine dj.