You ever get an impulse to order a cursed book online?
Last month I learnt about Einar Baldvin’s beautiful but creepy graphic novel The Crawling King, and I instantly wanted it. The book is a collection of scraps of stories and records from the kingdom of Gyldenbrae, which fell to something dark long ago. It is also full of Baldvin’s amazing art, and everything is handwritten. The book itself is work of art. Eldritch horror, great art, a story that experiments with the format, and one really fancy hardcover book. Of course I had to buy it.
Which at first seemed like an impossible mission. The Crawling King was funded on Kickstarter in 2017. It was published in 2018, and has since become a bit hard to track down. Secondhand copies often cost an arm and a leg. Fortunately there is an online store with a few ‘stray copies’ to use the author’s words. Click here if you’re interested. The purchase price is much more reasonable than the secondhand listings I was able to find at the time, though shipping to Australia more than doubled the bill. Of course, paying for shipping to Australia is always painful. Now, was it worth it? What was it like unboxing a cursed book? I’ll quote the kickstarter page to give you an idea of what I was expecting from this moment.
“Once in your hands, you will at first caress the tome. After its evil seeps through the tip of your fingers, you will absorb the words within as your eyes cry for help. Finally, regret will be your companion forever.”
– The Crawling King Kickstarter
The fact that that description made me impulse buy an expensive book makes me realise that I will die a really stupid death if we live in a horror movie. Also, it sums up the feeling from open that box. I am just happy to have a book where there is such a story surrounding the physical book itself. Which isn’t a surprise, since I’m into all this weird creepy stuff. If you are, you’ll love unboxing your new book and being consumed with evil too.
But of course, we aren’t here to judge a book solely by it’s cover. What about the contents? Well, the artwork is amazing and super highly detailed. The handwriting isn’t too hard to read either. Except in places where it is supposed to be hard to make out to lean into the whole fragmented collection thing. I flicked through and took a few random pictures as soon as I got the book. I managed to avoid the really disturbing pics in this pass through, but I think this is when the evil truly started to seep in.
The stories within the book were short, but all very creepy. I think Harvest is the stand out for me. That and the first story about King Aemilius I. That one set up everything in the book so well. Then there is that ending. We don’t really get much of an explanation about the fall of Gyldenbrae, but we certainly get to see the aftermath, and it is freakingly disgusting. I’m not going to say too much more though; there is a certain sense of mystery about this book, and I don’t want to give too much away.
If you love horror – or even if you just love creepy bugs – you’ll love this book. I guess if you hate looking at bugs you might want to skip it. There is a lot to discover in these 200 pages, and the hardcover itself is a great addition to any bookcase. Which is good for me, because I have new bookcase now.
This was a great impulse buy. I do so much reading on an ebook and via audiobooks, that it feels weird buying dead tree books nowadays. But nice hardcovers are always nice to have around. Especially cursed hardcovers with dark histories.
Also, my cat Knight really likes new boxes, so that’s another excuse to order more strange books.
Happy Reading Everyone,