Edited and with an introduction by Gary Hoppenstand.
Slithering from these pages are never-before-collected tales of suspense and wonder by the woman who invented modern-day dark fantasy: A man goes quietly to bed aboard the doomed Lusitania and awakens on a magical South Pacific Island just as the passenger liner is torpedoed. In a future where women rule the world, a sentient island becomes murderously jealous of a shipwrecked couple. Dire consequences await a human swept into the dark, magical world of elves. A deadly labyrinth coils around the dark heart of a picturesque landscape garden. Within an Egyptian sarcophagus lies the horrifying price of infidelity. Swirling unseen around us are loathsome creatures giving form to our basest desires and fears. A beautiful, veiled medium may hold the key to preventing unspeakable evil from slipping through the borderlands between life and death. On a lost island a woman pipe player and her monstrous dancing partner bring death and terror to five adventurers.
The stories in this collection have played an integral role in the development of modern dark fantasy, greatly influencing such writers as H. P. Lovecraft and A. Merritt.
Gertrude Barrows Bennett (1883–1948) was the first major female writer of fantasy and science fiction in the United States, publishing her stories under the pseudonym Francis Stevens.
She completed school through the eighth grade then attended night school in hopes of becoming an illustrator, a goal she never achieved. She began working as a stenographer, a job she held on and off for the rest of her life. She began to write a number of short stories and novels, only stopping when her mother died in 1920.
Bennett wrote a number of highly acclaimed fantasies between 1917 and 1923. She has been called "the woman who invented dark fantasy." She has been recognized in recent years as a pioneering female fantasy ... (more)