About this book
Coming in 2022
A New Ghost House Book!
November, 1799. Jonas Layne, the acclaimed “world’s greatest violist” who performs on a notorious viola known as the Inamorta whose previous owners all have succumbed to violent fates, begins keeping a journal. He is weary of the touring life and plagued by a terrifying reoccurring nightmare of a monstrous wolf. When Jonas and his father/piano accompanist Theodore are commissioned by the enigmatic Count Rufus Canis, they travel to his residence, Teethesgate Castle, in the hinterland. Teethsgate is eccentrically opulent and grandiose, but things there are not as they seem. Something ghostly clings to the castle and its bizarre family. In Larmes Harbor, the decrepit village south of the castle, people are disappearing, and the Count’s seductive daughter, Daeva, has a fearful and powerful secret which will force Jonas to confront one of his own—and the reality that his nightmare might be more premonition than dream.
A Warning to the Reader:
The text you are about to read has been transcribed (and typeset and published by Weird House Press) from a journal which I discovered at the bottom of a tattered viola case at an antique dealer’s in the town of Rye, E—. I was spending the weekend there several years ago during a research trip, wandering its meandering brick streets and admiring the scores of Tudor period houses with their sharply-gabled roofs and small windows with wavy leaded panes. The weather had been quite brutal—hard rain and rogue winds which prevented me from exploring in as much detail that I had intended the many architectural wonders of the little hamlet on the sea.
Upon one such stormy early afternoon, I had sought refuge in the antique dealer’s. This shop was located on the first level of a leaning, half-timbered structure which I guessed to be at least five hundred years old. Within was the usual junk mixed with rarities: ephemera, quotidian objects, objects of value which were absurdly overpriced. In one windowless and silent corner, while perusing a series of phantom-like Victorian glass plate negatives, I spotted an instrument case lying on the bottom plank of a crude wooden shelf. As I once worked as a luthier many years ago, I am always intrigued by such objects, hoping with a treasure seeker’s enthusiasm that I might uncover some masterpiece of the Italian school forgotten and neglected amidst the desultory bric-a-brac of centuries.
Casting the plates aside, I crouched, placed the case on my lap and opened it. To my dismay, no instrument lay within. A suffocating must emanating from the padded interior caused me to turn my head for a moment, and when I at last looked back I noticed the small book lying within. It was maroon, with gold embossed lettering, and two words on the cover in block capitals: THE INAMORTA. The unlined, cream-laid pages within were filled with a fine script written in pale brown ink which grew increasingly erratic, even frantic, the further it progressed. It was an incredible, terrifying story—almost certainly a work of fiction. I hesitate to confirm that it is indeed such due to the eerie urgency in the hand which penned it, as well as the locations and the protagonist and his father that it mentions, which I have through subsequent research confirmed to have all actually existed.
The proprietor of this shop, a gaunt and willowy gentleman of advanced years who informed me that his family had lived in the town since before the Norman Conquest, was attentive to my inquiries regarding the instrument-less case, and the surprisingly well-preserved piece of writing within. When I asked why the journal—an historic piece penned by a most illustrious classical musician—had not been separated from the case, the proprietor said that he had felt a powerful intuition that to do so would “bring ruin” upon him and his shop, and that what he really wanted was to “be rid of the thing altogether”. Shrewdly I offered him an absurdly low price, which to my surprise he accepted eagerly with a grin, baring hideously decayed and crooked teeth. Greatly satisfied with my new acquisition, I left the shop, removed the book and tossed the rotten case in a trash bin behind a fruit seller’s. Then I returned to my quaint room at the Mermaid Inn to read the little tome in full. Later that night, I was woken by the low humming of some dark and minor key musical passage. I could not determine if it was coming from within my room, outside my window, or inside my own head. I have heard this song again and again over the years, accompanied sometimes by shifting shadows in my room where I lay still in dread upon my bed during the long hours between night and morning.
Has some trace of the horror told in this story permeated these pages? If so, is it communicable? I cannot determine that song I hear—the one which surfaces in my mind like something emerging from black water under a full moon, something with red eyes and char-black hair—is an existing piece of music. Nor is the dark melody a product of my own decidedly uncreative and scholarly-driven mind. What I am certain of is that both the story and its song have become and increasing distraction for me—an obsession that has led me towards an ever increasing madness. Therefore, a word of warning to all you who peruse these pages: what follows is a sort of consuming narrative spell, and a music which animates the shadows.
ABOUT THIS BOOK
A New Ghost House Book!
Coming in 2022
The Inamorta by Joshua Rex
Edited by Joe Morey
Front cover art by Nick Greenwood
PRAISE FOR JOSHUA REX
“I love to read Josh Rex. He’s the poet’s novelist. Dark, funny, mysterious–Josh creates pages that are a joy to get lost in. I would lavish more praise on him if I weren’t so jealous of his writing.”
NY Times Best-Selling Novelist Thomas Lennon
“From the stark warning for our times in the first story to the poetic beauty of the last paragraph, this is a collection that won’t fail to impress, intrigue and enthrall. Joshua Rex is a fantastic new talent with a deep appreciation of history, an eye for the telling metaphor and above all a flair for storytelling.”
“Joshua Rex’s stylistic execution is both distinct and discrete, deftly-crafting tales that coax his audience into a sort of uncanny collusion. The stories collected in The Descent and Other Strange Stories entangle the reader like a winding sheet.”
Clint Smith, author of The Skeleton Melodies
“Joshua Rex continues to demonstrate why he is one of the most dynamic young writers in the weird fiction field. The Inamorta is a splendid example of old-time Gothicism–a Golgotha of horror and grue livened with deft character portrayal and crisp narrative pacing. And in its attempt to achieve the supremely difficult task of evoking terror from music, it is a thunderous success.”
S. T. Joshi