Tartarus Press


Please note that The White Hands by Mark Samuels is now out of print.

The White Hands

and Other Weird Tales


Mark Samuels


This is the first collection of strange stories by contemporary writer Mark Samuels. The themes that thread through these nine accomplished stories are drawn from the great tradition of the twentieth-century weird tale, and they are suffused with a distinctly cosmopolitan, European feel. Mark Samuels writes about the fundamental fears of modern life, especially the effects of isolation and the dislocation that city dwellers can experience in their inhospitable, man-made environment.


H.P. Lovecraft wrote about entities beyond human comprehension that might be summoned from beyond the stars, but did he ever consider that they would feel quite at home in the sodium glare of some run-down inner-city? When one of Samuel’s characters stands alone looking up at the vast, illimitable darkness of space, the reader is forced to wonder if there is much difference between the hopeless emptiness of eternity and the bleak interstices between the concrete and steel of their daily life?


The White Hands was shortlisted for the British Fantasy Awards  in the best Collection category. The title story of The White Hands was also on their shortlist for the best Short Story category.


Born in 1967 in London, where he has lived ever since, Mark Samuels’ first story was published in 1988. His writings have appeared sporadically since then in a variety of small press magazines. He is currently working on a weird novel set in London.



'Samuels' prose is some of the most highly polished and surreal it has been my pleasure to read since I first discovered Thomas Ligotti.' Scott Connors in Weird Tales, issue 342

'In The White Hands, Mark Samuels earns a reputation as the contemporary British master of visionary weirdness.' Ramsey Campbell, Postscripts Number 5

'A really impressive collection of stories: genuinely chilling -- almost mercilessly so, I kept thinking -- with really sharp, elegant writing, great sense of mood, and great intelligence and control in each piece. And they work extremely well with one another; I especially love the way the final story ties the whole collection together by once more bringing in Lilith Blake.' T.E.D. Klein

'This is a book that was recommended to me about a week ago by Stephen Jones, who is a British anthologist, one of the two or three leading anthologists working in the UK. He said he'd come across a book called The White Hands and Other Weird Tales by Mark Samuels, published by Tartarus Press. It's a beautifully made book, published in an edition of 350 copies. Steve Jones says Samuels is the most exciting new young(ish) writer that he (Jones) has come across in at least a year. … I think that there is just a chance that we are seeing the emergence of the next Clive Barker. Certainly a name worth keeping in mind.' Richard Lupoff, Cover to Cover

'[The White Hands] is a treasure and a genuine contribution to the real history of weird fiction ... Even when the settings and characters are modern Samuels manages to convey a sense of otherworldly nightmare. For example, the use of computers in 'The Impasse' gives these infernal machines the feel and function of the strange books that stock the shelves of so many of the best weird tales from Lovecraft to Borges. ("Mannequins in Aspects of Terror" is the other major instance of this wonderful feat.) I thought the most impressive story in the collection was "The Search for Kruptos". The exotic locale and the historical setting are not the sort of thing that I would attempt in a story, and I thought Samuels handled both tasks magnificently, not to mention the ingenious and awful concept of a book in innummerable volumes. The other stories that were among my favorites, and served most powerfully to convey a uniform sensibility to The White Hands, were "Apartment 205" and "Colony".' Thomas Ligotti

'In my opinion, although already in his late thirties, Mark Samuels is a rising star of supernatural horror fiction. Pick up a copy of his first collection now and be in at the beginning of the career of a major new British talent. You'll only regret it if you don't.' Steve Jones, The Alien Online

'An impressive debut collection, The White Hands is an unexpected dark miracle of invention, tradition, and archetypal revision.... The author exhibits in this carefully arranged onslaught of weird fiction individualistic taste, thoughtfulness, and a strict control of literary subtlety. Re-envisioning the archetypal images and concerns of traditional supernatural fiction with distinctly contemporary, urban settings and bleak if heartfelt characters, Samuels weaves a deceptively subtle, menacing web of wizardry.' William Simmons, Hellnotes

'If you thought The White Hands sounded like a lost story by Arthur Machen you would not be far from the truth. Machen is the dominant influence on this collection . . . One can also detect the influence of Kafka, of Christopher Fowler's urban nightmares, perhaps even Beckett at his most surreal. Samuels articulates brilliantly what modern man secretly fears most about death: not that it is extinction, but that it is an eternity in which the utter meaningless of life is fully revealed.' Reggie Oliver, All Hallows

'Those good folks at Tartarus Press publish books that are beautifully presented collectors' items and this anthology of macabre tales by Samuels is a sewn hardback with a silk ribbon marker. Tartarus has cornered an intriguing market of cult writers who deal with arcane, supernatural fiction. They publish Arthur Machen and M.P. Shiel alongside lesser-known contemporary writers, such as Mark Samuels.... The stories have an old-fashioned feel about them, owing something to the sinister atmospheres evoked by Poe and Lovecraft, but without the torture and slime.... Much of the writing is subtle with sinister undercurrents, always understated even when describing torment and suffering.... Samuels has certainly mastered the art of ambiguity most effectively and understands well the power of fantasy.' Jeff Gardiner, Prism

'Mark Samuels is a perfectionist when it comes to creative writing. The fact that this is his first book actually makes me wonder if he's been holding back, continually striving for a level of creativity with which he's truly satisfied. And who wouldn't be satisfied with a book written to this standard? I found this collection of stories totally stunning! It's a book that Machen, Lovecraft, or Ligotti would be proud to have written. The stories are beautifully dark nightmares that mix escapism with strange, haunting qualities, fascinating and always compelling.' John B. Ford, Terror Tales

'With his unique style, best described as something of a cross between Lovecraft and Robert Aickman, Thomas Ligotti has become an inescapable influence on the younger crop of promising writers of literary horror like Matt Cardin, Stephen Sennitt, Quentin Crisp and Mark Samuels. Samuels may be the best of the lot, if this excellent collection of weird fiction tales from Tartarus Press is any indication. There are times when I actually prefer Samuels to Ligotti, partly because he eschews the latter's often maddening obliqueness but also because of his uniquely urban sensibility.' Gabriel Messa, 'A Year's Best List', Fantastic Metropolis

'Samuels is an extremely talented writer, his stories are superb and the present collection highly recommendable.' Mario Guislandi, Supernatural Tales

'Probably one of the most important debut collections by a writer of ghost stories since Terry Lamsley and Thomas Ligotti more than a decade earlier, The White Hands and Other Weird Tales contained nine strange stories (two reprints) by London writer Mark Samuels, limited to just 350 copies from Tartarus Press' Steve Jones, Mammoth Book of Best New Horror #15 (Oct 2004)

'The White Hands and Other Weird Tales is a highly impressive, extremely well-written book that will appeal to all with an interest in contemporary horror or “weird” fiction. This is one to place on the bookshelf in the company of Robert Aickman, Elizabeth Hand and Thomas Ligotti.' Paul Kane, The Compulsive Reader

'Sheer unadulterated brilliance, this title is recommended for all lovers of the weirdly fantastic.' Bob Freeman, Monsterlibrarian.com

'...dark, tragic, ominous but ultimately a reflection on ourselves and the society we live in. Mark Samuels, like Thomas Ligotti, looks beyond the supernatural into some dark void which lurks in our minds, he then proceeds to show us the really scary stuff that lurks in that darkness. This a marvelous collection...' Highlander's Book Reviews


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