East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai


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What was I saying about horror?
Because, you see, the postman just delivered my copy of the first issue of Hellebore magazine, and I am revising today’s schedule because I want to dive in straight away. But while my tea is brewing, I may as well give you a quick overview of this new fine mag.

Hellebore is a “limited-run magazine” devoted to the scholarly study of folk horror. For the uninitiated folk horror is that preeminently British sub-genre of horror fiction that uses folk traditions as its main source of inspiration: think about movies like The Wicker Man (the old one, not the one with Nick Cage) or Blood on Satan’s Claw. The genre had its heyday in the mid ’70s, but has been going through a revival in the last few years.

Hellebore presents itself as “a collection of writings and essays devoted to folk horror and the themes that inspire it: folklore, myth, history, archaeology, psychogeography, and the occult.”

As someone that’s interested in history, folklore and supernatural fiction, it was probably quite obvious that I should take an interest in the subject, and so it’s just natural that I ended up investing about twelve bucks in this magazine.
Money well spent.

From a physical point of view, Hellebore – The Sacrifice Issue, published on Samhain 2019 (that would be last October) is a compact, digest-sized magazine – 68 pages, printed on good glossy paper, with a sturdy sewn binding. It’s abundantly illustrated (and it looks beautiful) and printed in black, white and purple.

Contents-wise, the index offers us an editorial, followed by

  • a piece on stone circles and megaliths
  • an article on the use of animals in magic and folk medicine
  • an article on how the Victorians defined folk horror
  • an interview with folklore expert Ronald Hutton
  • a piece on bog bodies
  • an article about M.R. James’ Lost Hearts and the occult
  • an article on certain Medieval findings in East Anglia
  • a piece about folk horror, tradition and politics

Quite a promising start, and a nice reading with a cup of hot tea, as the countryside outside is wrapped in mist, and silent.
Even from a cursory skimming of the contents, I feel like I can recommend this publication, and in case you needed to learn more – or order your own copy – you should check out the magazine’s website.

I hope this is the first of many more issues.

Author: Davide Mana

Paleontologist. By day, researcher, teacher and ecological statistics guru. By night, pulp fantasy author-publisher, translator and blogger. In the spare time, Orientalist Anonymous, guerilla cook.

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