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Conjure Wife/Our Lady of Darkness (Tor Doubles)

by Fritz Leiber

Series: Tor Double (36)

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272473,530 (3.76)18
Conjure Wife Witchcraft. Norman Saylor considered it nothing but superstition, until he learned that his own wife was a practicing sorceress. Even still, he refuses to accept the truth that every woman knows...that in the secret occult warfare that governs our lives, witchcraft is a matter of life and death. Our Lady of Darkness Middle-aged San Francisco horror writer Franz Westen is rediscovering ordinary life following a long alcoholic binge. The one day, peering at his apartment window from a top 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...and, meanwhile, the entities are also looking for him.… (more)
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» See also 18 mentions

Showing 4 of 4
_Conjure Wife_ was a bit dated, but still fun. Have not read _Our Lady of Darkness_ yet. ( )
  dbsovereign | Jan 26, 2016 |
I've always wanted to read "Conjure Wife" as I'm a huge fan of the British film adaptation "Night of the Eagle", and although I already own a copy of "Our Lady of Darkness" I snapped this up immediately. I'm glad I did. The two complement each other wonderfully.

The first novel is in some ways a period piece, but a wonderful period piece at that. Leiber's greatest skill seems to be taking a slightly hackneyed bit of story - overly rational university professor finds his dizzying rise in academia is more to do with witchcraft than talent - and then making it seem somehow *real*. There's a quote by Damon Knight on the back of the book to this effect, but basically it has to be as real as possible for the story to work. And Leiber seems to really enjoy taking something quite nonsensical - the various magical rites of the book - and somehow trying to piece together a way in which they *could* work in a rational manner.

Leiber takes this one step further in "Our Lady of Darkness", especially with his concept of "megapolisomancy", somewhere between a magical rite and a more hysterical form of psychogeography. The real bit of genius though is that the book is basically Leiber's own tribute to the horror writers he loves so much. Plot aside - which is a wonderful thing, a brilliant riff on several tropes from M R James' stories - it's the very obviously semi-autobiographical tale of a recovered alcoholic, recently widowed horror/ sci fi writer finding the source of the real horrors in the world is intrinsically linked to the horror books he so loves to read. It works as a commentary on writers such as Ambrose Bierce, Lovecraft and Clark Ashton Smith as well as a sort of pastiche of them. The ending particularly runs with this idea - literally bringing these books to life. A very clever, and beautifully ruminative, book. Also improved by nestling with what for another writer would be seen as juvenilia, but in Leiber's terms just seems like a slightly different angle to pursue very much the same idea. ( )
  irkthepurist | Jul 7, 2010 |
Horror story written in a slow-building style, full of the protagonist's unfocused dread. Reminiscent of Lovecraft, structurally. Quite a bit of the plot revolves around San Francisco geography, and some of the climactic scenes take place just up the hill from my apartment. ( )
  aneel | Jan 15, 2006 |
If you've never read Leiber this is a great place to start. 2 great books from an undisputed master. ( )
  LastCall | Dec 27, 2005 |
Showing 4 of 4
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Conjure Wife Witchcraft. Norman Saylor considered it nothing but superstition, until he learned that his own wife was a practicing sorceress. Even still, he refuses to accept the truth that every woman knows...that in the secret occult warfare that governs our lives, witchcraft is a matter of life and death. Our Lady of Darkness Middle-aged San Francisco horror writer Franz Westen is rediscovering ordinary life following a long alcoholic binge. The one day, peering at his apartment window from a top 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...and, meanwhile, the entities are also looking for him.

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Contains the novels Our Lady of Darkness and Conjure Wife.
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