The Necromancer


The Necromancer

The Tale of the Black Forest

Founded on Facts

The Necromancer consists of a series of interconnected stories, all centering on the enigmatic figure of Volkert the Necromancer. Filled with murder, ghosts, and dark magic, and featuring a delirious and dizzying plot that almost defies comprehension, The Necromancer is one of the strangest horror novels ever written.

One of the earliest Gothic bestsellers, The Necromancer was first published in 1794, and after more than two centuries still retains the power to thrill and fascinate readers. This edition includes a new preface which reveals for the first time ever the true identity of The Necromancer's author.

Terror of my Name

"The terror of my name soon spread itself all over the country, and the neighbouring magistrates tried every means to get me in their power; a great reward was promised to him who should take me, dead or alive, and if one of my associates, a full pardon; however, I was so fortunate as to elude the watchfulness of my pursuers for a considerable time, and to frustrate every attempt on my liberty.

"I had carried on this infernal trade a whole year, when I began to be tired of it. The gang whose leader I was having disappointed my sanguine hopes, I soon perceived, with terror, how much my fancy, heated by wine and loose desires, had been imposed upon when I consented to become the captain of my associates.

"Hunger and want frequently supplied the place of superfluity and ease, which I had expected, and I was necessitated many a time to risk my life in order to procure a scanty meal, which hardly sufficed to appease the violent cravings of my empty stomach.

"The visionary image of brotherly concord disappeared, and envy, suspicion, and jealousy stepped in its place, loosening the ties of our society; the solemn promise of a full pardon to him who should deliver me into the hands of justice was a powerful temptation to lawless robbers, and I was well aware of the dangers which surrounded me.

"I became a stranger to sleep, a victim to never-ceasing apprehensions; the phantom of suspicion pursued me everywhere, tormented me when awake, laid down with me upon my couch, and created frightful dreams, when my weary eyes were now and then closed by the hand of slumber.

"My conscience, which had been lulled asleep, recovered its power by degrees, and the sleeping viper of remorse was roused by the general tempest which was raging within my breast; the hatred I bore the human race turned its dagger against myself, I was reconciled to human kind, and cursed nobody but myself.

"The dreadful consequences of vice stared me grisly in the face, and my natural good sense dispelled at length the delusions which had led me astray from the blessed path of virtue. I felt how deep I had fallen, and gloomy melancholy stepped in the place of gnashing despair.

"I wished, with weeping eyes, to have it in my power to recall the times past, and was convinced that I would make a better use of the hours I had dedicated to the vile service of guilt. I began to hope that I yet would reform, being sensible that I should be able to effect a reformation.

"On the highest summit of depravity I was more inclined to tread in the steps of virtue than before I had committed the first lawless deed.

"A war had broken out in Germany at that time, and recruits were raising everywhere, which gave me some hopes to retreat in an honourable manner from my associates, and turn a useful member of human society. I wrote a letter to my prince, the copy of which you will find in my pocket-book.

"The letter was produced and read by the clerk; the purport of it ran, as much as I can remember, as follows:

"If your Highness does not think it beneath your dignity to condescend to a villain like myself, if a criminal of my atrocity is not entirely excluded from your mercy, O then do not reject the humble petition of a repenting sinner. I am a murderer and robber, have forfeited my life, and am pursued by the avenging hand of justice.

"I will deliver myself into the hand of the executive power; but I, at the same time, am going to lay a very strange prayer at the feet of your throne. I detest life, and do not fear to die; it would, however, be dreadful to me to die without having lived. I wish to live, in order to repair my crimes past, and to make my peace with human society, which I have offended.

"My execution will be a warning example to the world, but will not atone for my wicked deeds. I hate vice, and have a strong desire to try the path of honesty and virtue. I have shown great capacities to become a terror to the state, and I flatter myself that I yet have some abilities to render services to the country which I have injured.

"I am well aware that I supplicate for something quite uncommon. My life being forfeited, it does not become me to propose conditions to punishing justice; however, I am not yet chained in fetters, am yet at liberty and fear has the least share in my prayer.

"It is mercy that I crave, and if I had some claim to justice I would not attempt now to enforce it; yet there is one circumstance which I have reason to recall to the recollection of my judges. The period of my crimes commences with that rigorous sentence which has deprived me of my honour.