The Darkly Splendid Realm

About the Author: Richard Gavin

A resident of Ontario, Canada, Richard Gavin is the author of many acclaimed works of horror and the occult, including Charnel Wine, Omens, and Primeval Wood His non fiction appears frequently in the pages of Rue Morgue magazine and other journals Richard s latest collection, The Darkly Splendid Realm, will be released by Dark Regions Press in autumn 2009.


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  • Hardcover
  • 187 pages
  • The Darkly Splendid Realm
  • Richard Gavin
  • English
  • 02 April 2019

The Darkly Splendid Realm If You Ve Felt Eyes Studying You From The Shadows, It Has Seen You If Crooked Branches Have Rapped Upon Your Window At Night, It Has Summoned You If Your Dreams Are Plagued By Half Glimpsed Terrors, It Has Claimed You From One Of The Most Gruesomely Original Voices In Contemporary Horror Comes This Book Of Thirteen Nightmares Richard Gavin Will Plunge You Into Underworlds Of Hellish Beauty Give You Flight On Dread Moths Wings Tend For You A Thicket That Blooms With Feral Children More Than A Volume Of Horror Tales, This Collection Offers Visions Of A Realm Whose Splendours Are As Illuminating As They Are Dark.

10 thoughts on “The Darkly Splendid Realm

  1. Seregil of Rhiminee says:

    Richard Gavin s The Darkly Splendid Realm contains thirteen stories It also contains a wonderful introduction by Laird Barron and an interesting afterword by the author.The stories are Prowling Through Throated Chambers Where the Scarab Dwells Phantom Passages Primeval Wood Final Night in Nevertown Children of the Mound The Language of the Nameless Region The Astral Mask Dreaming While Adrift on the River of Despair Getting the Strap Waterburns The Bitter Taste of Dread Moths Following the Silent HedgesThe Darkly Splendid Realm is a real treat for fans of dark fantasy and horror literature I think that Richard Gavin s stories will be of interest to everybody who likes modern and well written horror stories, because his stories are fascinating and his prose is good.Richard Gavin s stories owe a lot to old horror masters and their eldritch stories Gavin s stories are firmly rooted in old school horror, which is the founding stone of modern horror literature It s easy to notice that Gavin s writing style has been influenced by the likes of Edgar Allan Poe, H P Lovecraft, William Hope Hodgson, M R James and Arthur Machen The reason why I compare Gavin to these old masters is that his stories are full of subtle psychological horror and dread of the unknown which can be found in their stories The legacy of these old horror writers seems to live on in Gavin s stories.When I read these stories, I liked Gavin s writing style very much In his stories suspense and surprise are not merely devices to intrigue the reader s mind, but they re also used to stir the reader s emotions The dark and threatening atmosphere, which is always present in Gavin s stories, creates an unsettling and disturbing feeling this feeling will haunt the reader for a while after he or she has finished reading the stories Only the best writers are capable of creating this kind of creepy atmosphere and sense of dread, so it s easy for me to say that Richard Gavin is one of the best modern horror writers he can be compared to Laird Barron, Livia Llewellyn, Barbara Roden and other modern writers.The characters in Gavin s stories were real and interesting characters His characters were almost similar to the characters in certain old horror stories, because they were unable to resist temptation and were almost helplessly drawn towards darkness and weird things.Gavin s stories range from normal horror to mysterious horror and from supernatural horror to psychological horror He masters all of these elements amazingly well and he often blends them that s why his stories feel fresh, exciting and original Most of these stories can be called weird fiction, because weird fiction is probably the best way to describe them.Here s a few words about certain stories Prowling Through Throated Chambers is one of the finest stories in this collection It s a dark and gothic story about a man who visits a haunted house attraction This story can be found at the publisher s website Please, do yourself a favour and read it it s a good story Children of the Mound is a great dark fantasy story It s a story about crusaders who are bringing Christianity to a pagan land.Final Night in Nevertown is an interesting story about a town that begins to disappear one piece at a time.The Astral Mask is a great story about a man who begins to question his sanity.Getting the Strap is a different kind of story It isn t exactly horror, but it s a bisturbing story about abuse and the relationship between a boy and a grandmother.Following the Silent Hedges is brilliant weird fiction It shows the reader a fascinating glimpse of the unseen world.When I began to read The Darkly Splendid Realm I wasn t familiar with Richard Gavin s stories, because I had only read one story Prowling Through Throated Chambers Now that I ve read this collection I can say that I m glad I read it, because Richard Gavin a gifted writer We need horror writers like Richard Gavin, because writers like him remind us that there s much to horror than blood and guts Subtle psychological horror and weird happenings are often far powerful and disturbing than explicit scenes of violence several readers probably have nothing against gory horror, but I m sure that most of us love good old fashioned weird fiction very much and want to read well written weird stories.I can highly recommend The Darkly Splendid Realms to all readers who want to read good dark fantasy and horror It s one of the best new short story collections I ve read These weird, bizarre and shocking stories will seduce all horror fans If you re as big a fan of quality horror as I am, do yourself a favour and buy this collection you ll love it

  2. Benjamin Uminsky says:

    Well this one is another winner from Dark Regions Press I just finished up Simon Strantzas newest collection, NIGHTINGALE SONGS from DRP, and went head into Gavin s newest collection from DRP I m on a bit of a DRP kick as I have Pugmire s newest DRP collection in front of me as well This one came highly recommended from many folks on Goodreads, and I am glad I gave it a chance.Gavin s prose is highly stylized and really brings some of his phantom settings into a stark reality, particularly in the verbs and phrases that he uses that bring alive in a a bizarre anthropomorphic fashion inanimate objects and places The first time I read one of these phrases, I was a bit startled and he was simply describing the foyer of a building What struck me most about Gavin s approach to atmosphere and setting is his ability to juxtapose the realms of the living with those darker cosmic and dream like realms, hovering on the edge of our consciousness Further, where Gavin really excels is his ability to enshroud the reader with amazing imagery as he leads you from the land of the living into those nocturnal dream realms These dark worlds are disturbing in a Ligotti esque Shadow at the bottom of the world kind of way Where Ligotti is supremely artful in his description and development of urban decay, Gavin goes a bit further and infuses some of his urban settings with a kind of natural or forest like fairy glamor or dream like veil This kind of effect is most notable in his stories, Primeval Wood and Following the Silent Hedges , and Language of the nameless regions This approach is a little reminiscent of some of Brian Hodge s settings, particularly like those found in Cenotaph and Come unto me, all ye heavy laden and a few others.Gavin s other stories are heavy on combining the urban with the darkly cosmic, like in Phantom Passages , Where the Scarab Dwells , and many others.There wasn t a single disappointing story in this entire collection, easily meriting the 5 stars Some of these dark embers smoldered fiercely than others though Phantom Passages This might have been my favorite story if the collection didn t include Bitter taste if dread moths I love stories that examine the forbiden knowledge and hint at dark realms that are attainable through the pursuit of this forbidden knowledge Gavin s antagonist though really takes the cake for grotesque villainy The description of the flesh caul was masterful and sent shivers down my spine particularly when Aidan was clawing his way out of the hole just terrifying imagery Bitter Taste of Dread moths What happens when our fear and dread can be congealed into something real something that can be harvested by just the right technique ritual and by just the right amibitious practitioner of the dark arts This one very much reminded me of Ligotti s The Cocoon I wonder if we are going to see any Dr Valzer stories absolutely loved this character and would love to see him further developed.I highly recommend this collection Gavin has two previous collections, which I am now very much compelled to seek out These are dark dark worlds that Gavin is sending you into be wary of what else you find down there because it may come back to haunt the peripheries of your vision

  3. Simon says:

    What ties much of this collection together is the concept of what lies beyond Gavin is fascinated with the other side , with our travels there, and with what might return Tales like Following the Silent Hedges and The Astral Mask are most obvious about it, but it also plays a bit in Waterburns and the wonderfully bizarre Children of the Mound Gavin s work is concerned a great deal with this topic, and his use of mysticism to convey it is rare in today s fiction It harkens back to masters such as Machen and Blackwood, and is reminiscent of tales like Lewis s The Tower of Moab which suggest a deeper, longer history to events than anyone is aware He s fascinated by the dark world s intrusions upon our own I honestly believe there is no one writing like Richard Gavin today, and it s only a matter of time before his contributions to the field of the weird are recognised and given their due.

  4. Orrin Grey says:

    As I already said in my review of Omens, I ve rapidly become a big fan of Richard Gavin, but Omens felt a little slight to me Fortunately, The Darkly Splendid Realm solves that problem in spades While there were several great stories in Omens, The Darkly Splendid Realm was pretty much nothing but.Special mentions must go to Prowling Through Throated Chambers, which would have been enough to sell me on the collection on its own merits even if I d never heard of Richard Gavin, Waterburns, The Bitter Taste of Dread Moths, and Phantom Passages I have a special soft spot in my heart for the monster in Phantom Passages, but to say much would be to give too much away This was also my first experience with a book from Dark Regions Press and while I was forced by financial circumstances to go the cheaper trade paperback route, I must say I was impressed by the product, and by the service I received So bravo on all counts

  5. Gemma Files says:

    Another fine collection of short horror fiction from Gavin, whose voice blends hints of Arthur Machen, M.R James and H.P Lovecraft, yet updates all three of them ably into the 21st century Like Poe and Ligotti, he s fond of declarative statements which sound normal on first reading, then twist into something dreadful and alien when you try to parse them further Particularly unique Children of the Mound , The Astral Mask , Waterburns Also includes his novella Primeval Wood , previously available from Burning Effigy Press.

  6. Justin Steele says:

    At Fear s Altar was one of my favorite reads of the past few months also ranking high in my list of favorite single author short story collections I own Gavin s other three collections, but have only read a few stories from them I am a reader that is quite guilty of picking up short story collections and anthologies only to read a story or two here or there, and before blogging it was rare that I would read a collection anthology from start to finish Fellow reviewers seem of the opinion that At Fear s Altar is Gavin s best work, and since I loved that book so much I was a little nervous that Gavin s previous collection, The Darkly Splendid Realm, would fall a bit short Luckily, this was not the case, and I enjoyed this collection almost as much as I did At Fear s Altar.The Darkly Splendid Realm is Gavin s third collection, and in the author s afterword he refers to it as his earthiest Many of the tales within have recurrent themes dreams play an important role in several stories and most all of them deal with other worlds encroaching on our own.The collection opens with Prowling Through Throated Chambers, and follows a man who s attraction to dark places brings him to an abandoned amusement park and a true house of horrors The setting alone should resonate with horror fans of all sorts, but the horrors Gavin explores are bleak and reminiscent of classic weird tales Where the Scarab Dwells takes a guilty, corporate worker into a dark tenement, where his ancestry and guilt merge leading to a redemption of sorts.Phantom Passages is a morality tale of sorts, and takes a look at a character who s greed spells his doom So much is hinted at throughout the story, building up to a terrifying conclusion Primeval Wood marks the longest piece in the book, and is a great example of the earthiness I mentioned earlier A city man who was recently abandoned by his girlfriend, goes on retreat to a small, rural cottage Finding than he bargained for, the man loses time and undergoes a dark transformation Final Night in Nevertown is an eerie, dreamlike story where a town is disappearing in mist The imagery is surreal and makes for quite a moody piece.Gavin takes readers far back into history with Children of the Mound A group of Roman soldier missionaries visit the far reaches of their kingdom in order to learn the fate of an earlier group sent to build a church and convert the savages One of the best blends of historical fantasy and weird horror I have ever read, the story starts off reminiscent of a typical horror plot group arrives to find no sign of anyone and quickly descends into weird nightmare territory The Language of the Nameless Region is a story where dreams take center stage The story features an accomplished dreamer a la Lovecraft s Randolph Carter who comes across a woman straight out of his dreams He turns into the obsessed, creepy suitor, giving her strange gifts of dreamstuff The story is well written, and melancholic than horrific, but creepy enough.The Astral Mask is one of my favorite stories of the collection What began as Gavin s attempt to explore UFO extraterrestrial horrors, has become much, much The main character finds himself questioning reality Stories that blur the lines between sanity and insanity and feature a character struggling to tell what is real and what is not always hold an interest for me, and the horrific nature of this character s episode made for quite a chilling story Dreaming While Adrift on the River of Despair is another story that drips melancholy and puts aside horror It s a beautifully told story of loneliness, and is proof that Gavin can pen than just horror stories.Getting the Strap explores a disturbing relationship between a boy and his grandmother, and Waterburns blends sorrow and horror for a story about a woman who s fate was sealed when she was only five years old.The Bitter Taste of Dread Moths is another favorite from the collection, and is another story that explores only the tip of the iceberg A woman s essays about fear capture the attention of an eccentric man, and the ensuing correspondence strikes a deep chord within the woman and brings back a horrifying memory from her childhood A great story where mad science meets the essence of horror Gavin closes out his collection with Following the Silent Hedges, an experimental story told in the unconventional second person narrative Gavin makes this unorthodox style work in an exploration of the veil between worlds, and the thin places where we can cross over.While not quite as brilliant as At Fear s Altar, The Darkly Splendid Realm still stands strong as a collection where it is hard to find faults The stories within explore thin places, the power of dreams and fear, and how dealings with all of the aforementioned can lead to transformation Originally appeared on my blog, The Arkham Digest.

  7. Monster says:

    The thirteen short stories in this collection by Richard Gavin are the stuff of nightmares They are dark, gruesome and bleak, eerily reminiscent of Poe and Lovecraft All of the stories seem to question what lies beyond our world, and Gavin uses magic and mysticism to try to give an answer One of my favorite stories in the collection is Final Night in Nevertown , about a town that has been plagued by disappearances for thirteen straight nights Both people and property have disappeared without a trace there is no phone service and the town seems to have been completely cut off from the rest of the world The town manager has decided to go into the mist that has enveloped his town in a search for answers What he finds however is not what he expected nor wanted to see Another favorite of mine is Phantom Passages , about a young man who went looking for Autumnal, a place where the old gods dwell, wrote down what appeared to be spells to open these passages which were sold to Gideon who buys and sells manuscripts Gideon got a bit greedy and went to try to get of these manuscripts but what he found was not what he expected Other notable stories include Getting the Strap , about a boy who grows up in his grandmother s house with horrible whippings as punishment which affect him in a very disturbing manner even after her death Following the Silent Hedges , in which someone begins to notice the other world in their grief after losing a spouse Waterburns , about how childhood abuse creates real monsters for two girls, and Prowling Through Throated Chambers , in which a man goes through an old carnival attraction and is pursued by the beast of his life through a tightening and terrifying labyrinth Another notable story is the novella Primeval Wood , about a young man who inadvertently stumbles upon some very powerful magic that begins to take over his life This a wonderfully scary collection that is well written and well edited There isn t a bad story in the bunch I thoroughly enjoyed reading it I highly recommend The Darkly Splendid Realm to all horror fans.Review by Colleen Wanglund

  8. Ronald says:

    The Darkly Splendid Realm by Richard Gavin is a collection of supernatural short stories, with an engaging introduction by Laird Barron This book is not only published in a hard cover, but is also available as an ebook.This book is another fine contribution to our current renaissance in weird fiction I enjoyed all these stories All of them were well written and had interesting ideas.Comments on some of the stories Final Night in Nevertown is about a town which, everyday, a portion of its people and physical objects vanish.In the story Waterburns the main character has, early in life, an encounter with a lake monster But this story totally avoids B movie cliches This one early encounter with the monster is to have a deleterious effect on her life.In the weird fiction genre, one type of story that I m interested in is occult fiction Ligotti has written some stories in this vein In this book, the story The Bitter Taste of Dread Moths is about a man who cultivates insect like beings which are living totems of fear.On a final note, I ve read all the reviews of this book here at goodreads, and they all have something insightful to say.

  9. Cathy says:

    I want so badly to like this book It s a collection of short horror stories influenced by Lovecraft and Ligotti, with a focus on eerie ideas and atmosphere over gore or jump shocks just my sort of thing And so many of the ideas are good What s killing it for me is clumsy writing and no apparent copy editing sentences are awkwardly constructed, word choices are often not quite right, and there are frequent syntax errors Darkside Press should have done much better by this book With even a cursory polish, these stories could have shone As it is, I itch to take a red pen to them and fix everything,.

  10. Matthew Young says:

    This collection of dark short stories was pretty powerful I really liked the Dread Moth installment If you re into Lovecraftian style horror, you will really enjoy Gavin s collection I d really like to see a novel length book from Gavin in the future