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THE LIST: Ten non-existent books used as props in other stories
Perhaps the most famous non-existent book of all. The invention of HP Lovecraft, a writer described by Stephen King as: “The 20th Century horror story’s dark and baroque prince.” The volume, supposedly the work of a madman called Abdul Alhazred, is a key component of Lovecraft’s fictional universe, in which ancient gods bide their time until they can dominate the world. Necronomicon pops up in numerous stories by Lovecraft’s devotees.
2. The Revelations of Gla’aki.
Invented by Liverpool writer Ramsey Campbell in the 1960s for a Lovecraftian story called The Inhabitant of The Lake. Said to be the holy book of a deranged cult who worshipped a terrible deity.
3. Der Vermis Mysteriis – or Mysteries of the Worm.
An occult volume supposedly by a sinister magician called Ludwig Prinn, Der Vermis Mysteriis was actually the invention of early Lovecraft devotee Robert Bloch, who would go on to write Psycho. First appearing in a short story called The Shambler from the Stars, the book is namechecked or alluded to in stories by several other authors. Stephen King’s vampire novel, Salem’s Lot, includes an apparent reference to an edition bound in human skin.
4. Air Dance by Ben Mears.
Still in Salem’s Lot, this is a fictional novel by a fictional author who is the hero of King’s novel.
5. Darts: Master the Discipline.
This volume appears in London Fields by Martin Amis, playing a crucial role. Amis has never written a book about darts, but many years ago he did write a video game how-to called Invasion of the Space Invaders.
6. The Pension Grillparzer by TS Garp.
The author was the eponymous hero of the bestselling 1970s novel The World According to Garp by John Irving. Garp’s fictional novel, about a peculiar family running a guest house, was echoed by Irving’s real-live novel, Hotel New Hampshire.
7. Survival in the Snow by TH Mouseholder.
One of many books invented by Terry Pratchett for his Discworld novels.
8. The King in Yellow.
Not a fictional book but a fictional play crucial to a series of stories created in the late 19th Century by American author Robert Chambers. Merely reading the play, about a mysterious being in a location called Carcosa, is said in the stories to drive people mad.
9. Canon Alberic’s scrapbook.
Featured in a story of the same name by master of the English ghost story MR James, the book is stumbled upon by an academic who is thrilled by the ancient manuscript pages it contains. Unfortunately, one of those pages is a portal for something with teeth, claws and a foul disposition.
10. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them by Newt Scamander.
Part of JK Rowling’s Harry Potter world. Like another such book, Quidditch Through the Ages by Kenilworthy Whisp, it is rare among fictional volumes in that it became real. Rowling wrote and released the books for charity in 2001.
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