Short Reviews – [Just a Tease] The Dark World, by Henry Kuttner

Friday , 19, October 2018 5 Comments

The Dark World, by Henry Kuttner was originally published in the Summer 1946 issue of Startling Stories. Right now, I’m reading the reprint in Winter 1954 issue of Fantastic Story Magazine, which can be found here on

I’m not going to be able to do a full review of this story this week, as I’m buried in Cirsova submissions and of course the first story I’d pick up would be “a complete novel”, but I don’t want to deprive you of this gem and leave you hanging on Friday.

I’m only a few chapters in, but Kuttner’s got this dark, Byronic gothic vibe down. It’s been ages since I read Norton’s Witch World, but the setup has some striking similarities.

Kuttner’s hero is a wracked and soul-cursed WW2 vet who’s never been the same since his plane crashed over Sumatra. The witchdoctors did what they could, but if those heathens were the sort, they’d all be crossing themselves at the sight of him.

Witchfires, shades, nightmares and werewolf apparitions haunt him even back in the good old US of A. Then, she appears…


  • Fenton Wood says:

    This is an interesting novel because it bridges pulp and New Wave … it has some obvious influences from The Night Land, and it was a major influence on Roger Zelazny in his youth!

  • John E. Boyle says:

    This is my favorite story by Kuttner. I think the influence on Zelazny really shows up in the Amber novels.

  • deuce says:

    Like Brackett’s SWORD OF RHIANNON, this owes a big debt to Merritt’s DWELLERS IN THE MIRAGE. One of my favorites from Kuttner. He and Moore were both Merritt fans.

    For that matter, Merritt’s THE FACE IN THE ABYSS was what made Andre Norton want to become a writer. It’s been so long since I read the first Witch World novel that I couldn’t say for sure what parallels there might be with either Merritt novel, but the man was a profound influence on Norton.

    • John E. Boyle says:

      You can say that again, deuce. Merritt’s influence is wide and deep, especially in American SF&F. He was called the Lord of Fantasy for more than fifty years and for good reason.

  • D.M. Ritzlin says:

    “The Dark World” is one of three incredible Merritt-influenced novels Kuttner wrote for Startling Stories. The other two are “The Mask of Circe” and “Lands of the Earthquake.”

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