These Black Winged Ones by W.H. Pugmire is a chapbook issued by Myth Ink Books. It is a limited edition with only 100 copies printed. I think some may still be available from the publisher, for the astonishing bargain price of $9.00.
First I need to say that the production values are marvelous. The cover art by Luke Spooner is gorgeous and perfectly evocative for the story. The introduction by Peter Rawlik is almost as long as the story itself and it was quite moving. In fact I think it was the most poetic prose I have ever read by Mr. Rawlik. He echoed my thoughts about Wilum almost exactly.
And now we come to the story itself. It originates from some passages in The Call of Cthulhu by Lovecraft, from the “The Tale of Inspector Legrasse”.
There were legends of a hidden lake unglimpsed by mortal sight, in which dwelt a huge, formless white polypous thing with luminous eyes; and squatters whispered that bat-winged devils flew up out of caverns in inner earth to worship it at midnight.
All denied a part in the ritual murders, and averred that the killing had been done by Black Winged Ones which had come to them from their immemorial meeting-place in the haunted wood.
Using this background and setting to good effect, Wilum gives us a meditation on the lengths a woman will go to, to finally dream. She will sacrifice anything (one) for this sensation. I absolutely adore this story. Often I think Mr. Pugmire is most interested in conveying a mood in prose rather than a plot, achieving anoesis with his words. Here he does so magnificently, but with exquisite attention to the details of characterization and dialogue.
This is the best thing by Mr. Pugmire I have read in a long time.
I was not so enamored of Inhabitants of Waithwood, mainly because the dialogue fell flat to my ear. In These Black Winged Ones, Mr. Pugmire makes no pretense to vernacular and what we have is perfection.
Is there a flaw? Yes! It is not the hand tooled leather volume that this prose so deserves. Bravo, Mr. Pugmire. More please. All Lovecraftians must have a copy.