Archive for Nick Mamatas

Occult Detectives are alive and well

Posted in Horror, Occult Detectives with tags , , , , , , on July 16, 2017 by Occult Detective


I keep hammering the point, but its one I never tire of. The occult detective genre encapsulates so many of my obsessions.

As a writer, I get to explore witchcraft, magic, and religion from the inside out, I get to delve into the mysteries of the universe and dissect the workings of mind, body, and spirit.

As a reader, I get to experience those same themes from the other side of the fence, peeking behind the veil through someone else’s eyes and experiences. I get to thrill at the mysteries these authors have dreamed up, and take a ride through their psyches.

Cover 01 First BornHaving a new book out, First Born: Tales of the Liber Monstrorum, has found me reminiscing about some of my favorite literary occult detectives, from John Constantine to John Thunstone, Harry Dresden to Harry D’Amour, Adam Sinclair to Diana Tregarde…

I have sang the praises of a near countless number of authors who have added to the genre and now, I want to shine that spotlight once more on five modern takes on the occult detective by authors who have made contributions to genre that are sure to be remembered.

5. James Brimstone (Jason Ridler)

Brimstone may have only appeared in one novel this far, Hex-Rated, but he sure made a lasting impression, largely due to the Brimstone Files being set in 1970s Hollywood and all that that entails.

4. Charles St. Cyprian (Joshua Reynolds)

St. Cyprian and his assistant, Ebe Gallowglass, shine in Reynolds’ The Royal Occultist tales. Set in the ’20s, they defend “the battered and dwindling British Empire against threats occult, otherworldly, infernal and divine”.

3. Derek Adams (William Meikle)

If you like your private eyes hard-boiled, look no further than Adams, who stalks the shadowy byways of Glasgow with the same cynicism one might find in Sam Spade…if he had to deal with witches and water demons.

2.  “Golden” Dawn Seliger (Nick Mamatas)

If ever a character deserved a follow-up novel, it’s “Golden” Dawn, who leapt off the pages of Mamatas’ brilliant “Love is the Law”. She’s a teenage devotee to Crowley and Trotsky. If that doesn’t sell it, nothing will.

1. Levi Stoltzfus (Brian Keene)

Stoltzfus is an ex-Amish magus who traverses the back roads with his dog Crowley in a magical Amish buggy, drawn by a horse named Dee, and armed with a magical grimoire called The Long Lost Friend.

There’s a whole host of other authors who “get it right” too. Folks like Steven Shrewsberry, Justin Gustainis, Charles Rutledge, Greg Mitchell, Nick Kaufmann, Amanda DeWees, Tim Prasil, Christine Morgan, and on and on. For that matter, pick up a copy of Occult Detective Quarterly and you’ll see the truth for yourself.

The occult detective genre is alive, well, and kicking.

Now, while I have your attention, maybe I can interest you in trying First Born on for size. It’s available in the following online outlets:

Trade Paperback

Trade Paperback

Trade Paperback



The 2014 Occult Detective Awards: Fiction

Posted in Occult Detective Awards with tags , , , , , on January 2, 2015 by Occult Detective

5thawardsDay two of the 5th Annual Occult Detective Awards finds us looking into the senses-shattering world of horror fiction. I tend to read a lot. Not as much as some, but a helluva lot more than most. I made it through more than 80 works this year (fiction and non-fiction combined) but picking out the best of the lot is never easy. You’ll recognize some familiar names in the following list. Why? Because when you do right by me, I revisit the well. Great storytellers are hard to come by. Write a story that captures my imagination and I’ll be back for more.

Best Novel
Revival by Stephen King

King releases his inner Lovecraft in this superb tale of loss and madness. Disquieting, there is an almost infinite sadness in Revival that bears down on you. King is a master of character and you’ll find a rich tapestry of such within. As for the story itself, well, it certainly went places I wasn’t expecting, especially in the novel’s final pages.

Best Novella
The Last of the Albatwitches by Brian Keene

I am unabashedly a huge fan of Keene’s Levi Stoltzfus. Invoking the spirit of the late, great Manly Wade Wellman, Keene has delivered another tense thriller featuring everyone’s favorite ex-Amish occult detective by taking a local folk tradition and dialing it up to 11. Why? Because that’s what Keene does and he does it well.

Best Collection
The Nickronomicon by Nick Mamatas

One of the things I love about Mamatas is that he’s a literary chameleon and with this collection of Mythos tales he gets to showcase this talent in strange, perverse, and subversive ways. Mamatas is always fresh and innovative, and The Nickronomicon finds him at his neoteric finest. With a knack for seeing not only the man behind the curtain, but also the ghost inside the machine, Mamatas is able to take the reader on a surrealistic ride through chimerical and apocryphal nightmares like few others.

Best Anthology
The Weiser Book of Horror and the Occult, edited by Lon Milo DuQuette

You’d be hard-pressed to find a better assemblage  of esoteric tales. Featuring 15 masterpieces of occult fiction from such notable authors as M.R. James, H.P. Lovecraft, Aleister Crowley, Arthur Machen, and more, this is an anthology I’ve already earmarked to be a Hallowe’en staple.

Best Short Story
“Bedlam in Yellow” by William Meikle (In the Court of the Yellow King, edited by Glynn Owen Barrass)

In the Court of the Yellow King is a brilliant Mythos anthology, but “Bedlam in Yellow” shines just a little bit brighter because Meikle does the unthinkable by writing a Carnacki tale that rivals Hodgson’s original stories. A neo-pulpist, Meikle is a consistent and reliable storyteller, regardless of genre, but he really sings when he delves into occult detective thrillers.

A few thoughts on Nick Mamatas’ Love is the Law

Posted in Archive with tags , , on August 21, 2013 by Occult Detective


“The mystic sees the world as an illusion—but the magician must look reality square in the face.” — Nick Mamatas, Love is the Law

Before I get down to my thumb up or down thoughts on Nick Mamatas’ Love is the Law, here’s the publisher’s back copy for your reading pleasure:

In 1989, punk-rock girl “Golden” Dawn has crafted an outsider’s life combining the philosophies of Communism and Aleister Crowley’s black magic.

One fateful day she finds the dead body of her mentor in both politics and magick shot in the head, seemingly a suicide.

But Dawn knows there’s more going on than the Long Island cops could ever hope to uncover. In setting out to find the murderer herself, she will encounter dark and twisted truths for which no book, study, or basement show could have prepared her.

Award-winning prose author Nick Mamatas crafts a raw, hilarious, original mystery!

My immediate reaction upon completing Nick’s latest was posted on twitter thusly — “On a scale of 1 to 5, ‘ Love is the Law is a 666. Really. Most likely the best novel I’ll read this year.” Now, writing this review many days later, I realize that was a somewhat disingenuous tweet. While it is possible I may read a better book this year, the likelihood of such an event is quite unlikely. I’m tempted to say there won’t be a better book written this decade, but then, Nick’s still young, in his writing prime, if you will, so he just might scale these heights (or depths depending on your point of view) once more.

Love is the Law hit me in my sweet spot. See, I dig a good murder mystery, and if you’re going to mix in heaping doses of Aleister Crowley, sprinkled with late-eighties counter-culture, then you’ve probably made a friend for life.

Nick did his research on this one, mostly likely because he lived it. And it shows. The prose reads like it should, like something real, visceral, you know? These are real, gods be damned characters, living, breathing, fucking. There’s nothing resembling cardboard between these pages.

And the magick? Suffice to say, Nick didn’t thumb through The Book of the Law or Magick Without Tears and copy down some of the naughty bits. He didn’t spend the weekend before bleeding onto his keyboard by reading wikipedia entries on the Master Therion. Nick understands Crowley and Thelema and presents it in a subversive, tongue not quite in cheek, but middle finger prominently displayed for all to see way. He gets it. Or if he doesn’t, he’s a damn good bullshitter, and that’s pretty much one and the same.

Love. It’s a four letter word. And there are four words in the book’s title. Book 4. Love is what I felt for Love is the Law, and for Amaranth. She’s a fucking genius, you see. The only one on Long Island, guaranteed.

Nick’s a genius too. Don’t believe me? Read Love is the Law. You’ll be convinced, if you’re not driven mad.

Love is the Law is available for pre-order via Amazon and other such outlets. It’s due for release on October 8.

ADDENDUM (8/22): It occurred to me, late last night that, if Elmore Leonard and Robert Anton Wilson were to beget a Moonchild, it would bear a striking resemblance to Love is the Law.

How to End a Story…

Posted in Archive with tags on July 9, 2009 by Occult Detective

How to End a Story, an essay by Nick Mamatas

originally posted on 6/20/08

WARNING: Eddie Campbell in How To Be An Artist, his wonderful autobiographical comic, explains that the advice within should be taken as how to be an artist successfully, not how to be a successful artist. All advice here is the same. This is how to write a good ending, not how to write an ending that will make the story saleable. There actually is a difference, which I will discuss at the end of this.

And now, another anecdote — this past weekend I was at Mo*Con, and at Mo*Con was a Celtic rock band called Mother Grove who played an extended set. I’m not much for diddly-diddly music, but it was good and fun and their fiddler player was cute so I stuck around. For most of it. Mother Grove, like many artists who are given free rein, ruined themselves by playing too long. I went to bed before they covered Public Enemy’s “Don’t Believe The Hype”, which should have been how they ended the set an hour before. Then the experience would have been much better, though shorter. Actually, though is the wrong word — because it would have been shorter.

That’s how you end a story: with a) a bang and b) leaving the reader hungry for more. The bang is easy enough, but what about hunger?

Too many stories make one of two errors — they cop-out on the implications of the story or exhaust the reader. Both serve to stop the story rather than end it, both fail to leave the reader hungry for more.


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