Nightmare’s Disciple (1999/2016, novel)

My first (Lovecraftian) novel is out of print. The Lovecraft eZine Press is reprinting NIGHTMARE’S DISCIPLE, and will make it available in print and for Kindle. Coming very soon!

cover by Raven Daegmorgan


ISBN-10: 1568821182
ISBN-13: 978-1568821184

Publisher: Chaosium

“How to describe this novel by Joe Pulver? Pulver-izing! Joe really puts the Mythos through all its paces across what amounts to a cosmic chart of Lovecraft-land.”
– Brian Lumley, author of Necroscope

* * * * *

Even a man of faith will find it no easy matter to discern and to follow the guidance of his god. What if that god is one of the Great Old Ones of the Necronomicon? And what if the will of that deity is for you to become its messiah? Will you prove worthy? How will you know? The more real this faith feels, the more insane it will seem to those outside—especially if they are marked for sacrifice! Joseph S. Pulver, Sr., has conjured up just such a scenario, one in which two planets are slowly swinging into one another’s orbits: one a would-be Mahdi and serial killer, the other an embittered detective pursuing him from murder to hideous murder, eager to prevent others from bearing the cross of suffering he carries. Between them these adversaries launch a battle between worldviews. One is Nightmare’s disciple, the other the champion of daylight sanity. It quickly becomes evident that the insanity as just as likely to be true as the sanity we take for granted. What is at stake here? A man-monster of murder who must be stopped for the sake of his victims’ safety? Or an awakening into a horrific enlightenment that will scour the world clean of humanity? It is the human worldview, the world of humanity itself that lies in the balance. Will one man’s faith in the Lovecraft Mythos be revealed as a rationale for mind-sick killers? Or will he be revealed as the Christ of Cthulhu, the herald of universal madness? You will feel you have met these engaging and unsettling characters. You will find yourself making cameos here and there on the page. And when you are done, you will find that you, too, have become Nightmare’s Disciple. Joe Pulver has absorbed the spirits of a great host of fine writers, and in Nightmare’s Disciple you will see them emerge, one by one, sometimes in amazing dialogue on the pages, which seem almost to curl with awe and revulsion. The author channels many narrative voices in order to create a frightfully convincing world that impinges rather too closely upon our own. You will feel you have met these engaging and unsettling characters. You will find yourself making cameos here and there on the page. And when you are done, you will find that you, too, have become Nightmare’s Disciple.

* * * * *

“Joe Pulver’s Nightmare’s Disciple comes as a total surprise! It takes for granted a trick which no one else has, for my money, ever able to play, namely, making the Lovecraft Mythos seem dauntingly real, even within a narrative universe in which people like you and me are reading Lovecraft, Carter, and Campbell … You will at once feel completely at home and isolated in a strange land, dropped off by the Celestial Omnibus in the wrong part of town.”
– Robert M. Price

* * * * *

Praise for Nightmare’s Disciple

“Joseph Pulver manages to pull off a fine bit of alchemy in interweaving what seems a this-worldly serial murderer crime novel with the cosmic-scope Lovecraftian epic. So deftly does he balance focal characters and their very different frames of reference that the reader is kept off balance: is the strong, apparent supernaturalism just part of the killer’s delusion? Or is it real, and much more terrible than the killer himself? I have never seen anyone maintain the narrative tension of such a juggling act so well. Those familiar with the horror fandom scene will find that this book’s many references to it ring true. They will readily see themselves in it. And yet the book never becomes self-indulgent fan-fiction, an excuse for in-jokes. Also noteworthy is Pulver’s near-multiple personality syndrome when it comes to literary voices appropriate to a variety of moods and characters. How can he sound like Dashiell Hammett on one page and Thomas Ligotti on the next, and you don’t even notice any transition? Pulver is a wonderful writer, and one can only look forward to more of his excellent fiction! (By the way, he is of course not the editor but the author, despite the listing.)”
– Robert M. Price

“The potential of Joe “Da Beast” Pulver as an author has been woefully overlooked. Looks like that will soon be changing, however; look for a first collection of short tales by Pulver in 2009.
He’s somewhat self-indulgent in this novel, getting a bit too much into his favorite topics of music, books, films, etc. for some mainstream readers, but there’s no way this drags the book down. With some editing, this could be a bestselling thriller without any problem whatsoever! The bestselling horror authors today write 900 page books one after another, each luring the reader along with the expectation of something great to come; problem is, the climax withers on the vine and leaves the reader pissed at having been tricked into wasting all that reading time for nothing. The other reviews here make it sound as if Pulver’s novel does the same thing, but it doesn’t!
S.T. Joshi didn’t like this book but loves Pulver’s recent short fiction. So look out, folks, Pulver’s up and coming! And he deserves it!”

– Stan Sargent

“I have read this novel three times, and enjoyed it more with each new reading. There simply are not enough well-written Cthulhu Mythos novels to be read, and this one is so unusual and well done that it makes one wish that Joseph Pulver would try his hand at a new Cthulhu Mythos novel every two or three years. His imagination is unique, and there are many voices in this book — each voice coming across as strange yet authentic. Nothing is cliche, and the novel enhances the genres that spawned it.
I’ve always considered it a problem when writers include both the fiction of H. P. Lovecraft and the lore of that fiction as equally existing in the “real” world. With Pulver, there is no problem whatsoever. This novel is written by a true fan, yet it never comes across as “fannish” in any way. The prose style is rich and strange, at times poetic and at other times sounding like it comes from a straight detective novel. Pulver’s imagination is at times extremely brutal — we never forget that this is a book about an extremely violent psycho-killer, n’est-ce pas. The book’s one critical error comes on page 108, where Edgar Poe’s middle name is misspelled. The characters in this book are fascinating, and each one is extremely well developed and believable, strange as they may be. There are also portions of humor that are quite delightful. There’s wisdom about buying Arkham House books such as Gary Myers’ sensational THE HOUSE OF THE WORM.
There simply aren’t enough really good Cthulhu Mythos novels around these days, and for the wee price being charged here at Amazon, you would be an eldritch fool to pass this one up. Buy it, and be amazed! Those who say the book is badly written are proved wrong here at Amazon, for the first six or seven pages of the novel may be read by clicking on the book’s cover — and they are extremely WELL-written! Ia!”

– Wilum H. Pugmire




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