The mythology of the British Isles fascinates me. Long before Christianity reached their shores, the people of England, Scotland and Ireland had their own fascinating, rich and complex religions. Sadly, their gods and monsters were given the short straw– devolving into leprechauns and pixies if they survived in our social conscious at all. But if you dig deep, you can usually find them still, primal and brutal, beautiful and mystic. And that’s where The Blackness Within shines.
The Blackness Within is Apex Publication’s collection of stories on the Celtic god Moccus, a god traditionally associated with boars. While both pigs and boars were held as sacred by the Celts, the boar was specifically revered for its ferocity and the strength one would require to bring it down. Little is known about Moccus– he may have been a fertility God, or one of the Hunt, or even a psychopomp, but little can be said for certain. The Blackness Within sets out to answer these questions with another: what would happen if the savage, earthen god returned today?
The collection opens with a rather powerful introduction by the editor, Gil Ainsworth. Titled “The New God, the New Order”, the introduction eerily asserts that the tales to follow are not mere fiction, but truth– warnings to be heeded. The tone is so dire and serious that one begins to question whether they believe they’re about to read works of fiction or accounts of true supernatural events, giving the anthology the feeling of a dark Bible, “The Gospels of Moccus” if you will.
Overall, The Blackness Within is a mixed bag of horror stories with the good far outweighing the bad. This anthology contains some great gems, including “Abattoir Blues”, “For They Are as Beasts”, “Daughter of God” and “Dreaming”, and overall leaves very little left to be desired. In the end it makes good on the promise made in “The New God, The New Order”, and becomes its own Bible. It truly is the tale of the rise of the Lord Moccus, a God powerful enough to plunge the world into two wars before taking his place as the one supreme Being. His rise to power is engrossing and fascinating, at times both horrifying and surreal, and this collection of His stories is well worth a look for any fans of mythology, horror or, of course, obscure Celtic gods.
Read the full review at Flames Rising: