Fantasies, Sketches, Realities and Dreams by A.L. Salmon

Introduction by Johnny Mains


My previous reviews of Johnny Mains HERE and the publisher HERE

When I read some of these stories, my reviews will appear in the comment stream below…

(My previous reviews of older or classic fiction: )

10 thoughts on “THE FERRY OF SOULS — A.L. Salmon


    “A sensation of fleeing in terror came to him, followed by a swift sense of security.”

    Like reading ghost or horror stories like this. Or just fiction in general. Vehicles for our souls for a nonce of creative nonsense or something far more serious or enlightening. Terror or excitement, dread, eventual healing… for those who grow old doing it.
    This young man who has become a ferryman needing a strong arm for the currents thereabouts, and has taken over from a now weakened old man who used to do the job, and who once told him of the souls that use not only the ferry but also the ferryman himself as vehicle to cross, and as payment for their fare.
    Think of it. What the journey, who the traveller? Or vice versa.
    A short work that is a mighty vehicle for what we do, what we read, or what we write.


    “….in touch with the whole of humanity’s back-lying shadowland of fear and presentiment.”

    A densely packed vignette regarding a fear of self, and of self’s utter loneliness unless one can escape both the self itself and its home.
    In certain sentences, a work that outdoes even Walter de la Mare in such a nocturnity of within and without.


    “He was hearing strange music in a dream. Perhaps it was the moonshine that waked him, yet as he awaked the sound continued with no break, and he sat up in his bed with wide open eyes.”

    The story of a violinist as leader of an orchestra makes a pact with the daimon or demon here playing with seeming wondrousness on a violin or viola d’amore when he wakes, a pact whereby he had to promise that as payment to the demon or daimon he would need to accept he would ever play as wondrously as that.
    And what vile violins he did then engender around him ….yet you need not worry. Full of potential orgies and Satanic rites, this story is safe for you to read, viz. “Persons also of sluggish or unimaginative nature escaped altogether from its morbid charm.”
    But even if you are not one of those sluggish souls, this book as a ferry of souls (in eponymous story or overall collection’s title) has also hidden benefits as the tutelary devil’s viol continuo behind this book shows full well that “Even on the sensitive its effect was not the same in all moods; so that it would seem that the listener himself was always partly responsible for the result, hearing that which was already in his own soul.”
    The reader, too.



A carefully telegraphed horror, yet miraculously unrestrained in that very horror for a man and his ‘faithful’ dog lost within a darkened forest and reaching a crazily pre-expected cottage of shelter, a maiden. if not red riding hood herself (?), as sole inhabitant of this cottage and she insists, if he is given shelter, he must tie up his dog. A story of ‘abuse of his position’ in sexual desire, as tellingly, in effect, a self-released dog fights dog. As self fights self within us?

    “‘Where I am he must be also,’ he answered simply.”

  5. The Place of Haunting Sorrows

    “There are times when silence thrills with sound, and when solitude becomes densely peopled; this, according to our personality or our mood, is the terror or the charm of solitude and of silence.”

    This is the apotheosis of atmosphere! The atmosphere of countryside, imbued with de la Mare, and a traveller stumbling through such senses of terror and charm, like a mocking phantasm of sound, a copse, into an old village now a farm? Except he only sees one old man (probably a representative of the present reader) that betokens farm work and who pooh-poohs what he called clever folk who sometimes come to investigate the church thereabouts and the residua of ‘uncounted centuries’. I sense, an alien feel, an aloofness and indifference, and this sentence is just one clue as to what such indifference is indifferent to! — “All the griefs of the world seemed to be pent within one utterance, a concentration of the woes of centuries, a wail of humanity utterly bewildered and desolate.” Leaving, for this traveller, a question, a question relevant to this book’s ‘ferry’ syndrome adumbrated above: “Had he only found what he brought?”


    Because of its telegraphed ending, this is a masterpiece manqué. Long neglected, no doubt, and now coming out of the literary closet thanks to this book. It is an exquisition of a monk, bolstered by aspects of his backstory, who falls sexually in love with an image of Our Lady. I feel that it should be topped and tailed by removing the title and also its ending.
    It is utterly utterly powerful, couched in perfect prose. Its innards should be removed from the cheaper veneer someone forced around them and thus make whatever is inside to stand alone and pure, a potential religion of sorrows’ temptations as literature.

  7. Pingback: ‘A – – – – – – – E’ by A.L. Salmon | The Gestalt Real-Time Reviews of Books


    “A garden, to be perfect in its appeal, should never be new; the youth that each Springtime brings to it is not the garish tidiness of the new, but the rich quickening life of the old that is always young.”

    This wordvine is so idyllic, so part of past’s dreamland, its description of a garden becomes perfection outweighing the proverb’s good for the very first time. The narrator is that ‘good’ trying but failing to catch the cupid de-winged as a beautiful boy dallying with the statue’s nymph. Just as the gardener in Bill and Ben never caught Bill and Ben playing, and even missed seeing the Weed even though she stared into his face?
    Books are my garden, these days, but “perhaps my faith failed.” Something I shall always fail to see, staring me in the face, even if it’s my own soul still playing?

    “It is with such a feeling that we turn to the book still unread, and even to the volume whose pages have already delighted us; there must be something that till now we have missed.”


    “…the sweeping sand has been the enemy here, not the sea as on the east coast, and it has many secrets that it might tell us.”

    I have an instinct that this book’s works, many necessarily left unread, are reader-bespoke nugget apotheoses of Walter de la Mare, where in a number of his works we read epitaphs on gravestones, as well as these A.L. Salmon works also uniquely being unexpected word-ferries linking place to place, soul to soul, self to self, except I cannot read the epitaph for whose soul this work’s older woman and younger woman pine… I imagine or hope it is my wife and daughter, after I have gone, but I know I am wrong. Whether sand or sea, the pattern is true simply if I make it true — as the story allows me to do…

    “There is nothing to tell us of what semblance were these men and women, what were their hopes and their despairs; we are not mocked by the impossible perfections of the customary epitaph; we can dream and mould them as we will,…”

  10. Pingback: Links to some of my recent reviews of miscellaneous and older ghost or horror stories…. | The Gestalt Real-Time Reviews of Books

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