The Sucking Pit


The Sucking Pit
Guy Smith | New English Library | 1975 | 111 Pages

Jenny Lawson plans a visit to her eccentric uncle, a woodsman living in seclusion on a large country estate. Tom Lawson has a dark connection to the Romany people who live in the woods, and to the Sucking Pit, a black-water sink where legend suggests the devil came to earth in human form. Upon arriving at her uncle’s cottage, she finds him collapsed on the stairs, his dying words to find his “black book”.

Jenny discovers the book filled with magic spells at her uncle’s bedside, and immediately falls under its insidious influence. She performs a rite contained in its pages, drinking shrew’s blood while–of course– nude under the light of the full moon. The ritual unleashes an insatiable carnal desire (to a degree that perhaps the book’s title refers to her character rather than the murky bog in the woods) that devours her old persona, leading her to seek new realms of satisfaction.

Cornelius, the leader of the local gypsies, discovers Jenny’s magical possession and recognizes her as a kindred spirit. Seemingly the only man who can satiate her desires, Cornelius uses her to manipulate the owner of the estate into making a safe haven for his people, and to ultimately raise the diabolical presence that dwells in the woods.

At a short 111 pages, Jenny transforms instantly from thoughtful niece to harbinger of evil. Characters are introduced, and then killed moments later. An arbitrary romance, culminating in pledges of love after just one meeting, forces the plot along to an ultimate showdown at the Sucking Pit.

A woodland fox, inexplicably named Reynard, frames the narrative, perhaps raising some greater cosmological questions. Do all foxes have names? Does a greater “Fox Society” exist that humans are unaware of? Does an omnipresent fox observer WATCH OVER US ALL?


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