11 thoughts on “The Ruins of Eden and other Witcheries – Harold Billings

  1. I am sporadically breaking my reviewing sabbatical by dint of a brief nonce…

    Luxuriously upholstered book with quality materials, guessing about 13 inches by four, marker ribbon, all generously designed with artwork etc, stiff paper and even stiffer dust jacket, and illustrated endpapers.

    THE RUINS OF EDEN

    .
    Pages 7 – 12

    Seems an intriguing sequel to this author’s genius loci of ‘Daughters of Lilith’ reviewed here, with Eden’s scion David tempted or teased into potential fatherhood by his mother with regard to bare-breasted women in the area and inveigled towards parting with the black stones he found from meteors, reminding me — gestalt-synchronously in my now seemingly endemic reviewing life — of the pieces of coal made into a black mirror that I just read about a few minutes ago here.

  2. Pages 12 – 17

    “One provided one fact, another a different fact, and others still others…”

    I am utterly captivated by David’s quest to visit the ruins of Eden (and its Serpent?) helped by the satyr Magus map made in accordance with music scores…as a form of early writing. And the people he is recommended to be his companions on such a trip, one such companion being an enticing sounding woman based on the music of the satyr’s words via Billings’ own words.

  3. Pages 17 – 21

    Faced with known dangers like volcanos, David — with the brother and sister as his companions (Hamar and Iliana), companions on this quest for Eden — is also faced with “something that we do not know even exists” or “a problem that has not yet appeared.” And also faced with his need to resist Iliana’s innocent beauty when sleeping near her or when watching her wash. Faced, too, with each rapt reader like me watching the threesome’s adventure with a critical mind’s eye. Each character careful to leave no sign or spoor.

  4. Pages 21 – 27

    “Despite his being a satyr, it was clear that he had a great deal of empathy with the humans and had been extremely pleased in finding the three of them with whom to share not only his writing system…”

    …and if this is Billings himself, no wonder there is such empathy!
    I am inspired by this clean-cut adventure and their continued quest for Eden and its perhaps residual Serpent, encountering foes and personal accidents along the way.
    One such accident to Iliana (and its post-care by David) delightfully causes his own passing ‘foe’ to be a faux pas of natural volition from his “maleness”… 🙂

  5. Pages 27 – 33

    Either

    The perfect ending to this story with the threesome’s cautious resistance to sleep’s encroaching dreams near or within “the birthplace of our races.” Followed by the final sentence’s throwaway deadpan prospect of an even more perfect ending on top of the previous one!

    Or

    A doubt that those encroaching dreams were not from residual Eden’s idle or dying Serpent but from the actual imposed or plotted map of the Magus who is telling us about their story.

    Whichever it is,
    this doubt of ‘whichever’ creates another perfect ending layered upon my reading mind.

  6. Des. I am always pleased to have your thoughts about my stories, especially when you find one like this one that I so enjoyed finding the story somewhere within my unexplored geographical imagination — and am able to tell it to myself and some receptive other. Unlike more mundane stories. Shall it be more of Iliana, whom I love, or her brother who comes to visit — or an effort to find out what has happened to that owl thing? I don’t know.

  7. Pages 35 – 40

    CHANTS FOR BROKEN GATES

    “, the breaking of the physical gate to our most private parts –”

    A tempting of nunnishly constrained temptress-wenches themselves, I guess, by dint of those oblique figures chanting nearer, a tempting chant caught in the words of this story. One such nunnish wench is tempted through the night towards a lake with “several handfuls of swans.” I felt tempted to join her, despite my own constrained desires. Other readers younger or less infirm than I am may find this story even more tempting, and thus more dangerous.

  8. Pages 43 – 52

    UNCLE HIRAM’S HOUSE

    Akin to that final sentence of the Eden story, here an equally enticing ending, where love’s promise is about to be fulfilled, we hope and trust, with at least a lick of lust. But not before the “particulates” make the male narrator (neglectful keeper of his late Uncle Hiram’s house) wonder what he’s got his young female cousin into, “that I dragged you into such a situation”, into a most unusual haunted house, with even Uncle Hiram equally ‘dragged’ back and forth to and from his old home and death’s home in tiny bits? This will haunt me in a gestalt of such a bits for at least the rest of my life. Seriously.

  9. Pages 55 – 59

    THE EAR TRUMPET

    “…who had owned a large plantation in the Old South before his great-grandparents and grandparents moved to East Texas.”

    The perfect coda. The sound of history or of the story itself. As Ann, a hard-working interviewer for journalistic articles, tells me, her loving reader and maybe husband, of the ancient days and the ear trumpet that recorded it, a story told through several levels, to me, to you, and we finally realise that this book itself is perhaps equivalent to that ear trumpet, in our actual hands now. “A segment of sound kept repeating itself each time”, like that earlier chant.

    “, just go with your stories.”

    This is a good-hearted book of seriously unmissable new Weird FIction. A recurrent young timer with seasoned haunting tales still to tell.

    end

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