Wanderer, The

Wanderer, The

An obscure writer disappears, a typescript is found. Is it fiction, perhaps the author's last novel, or something far stranger?


After obscure author of strange stories, Simon Peterkin, vanishes in bizarre circumstances, a typescript, of a text entitled, 'The Wanderer', is found in his flat.
'The Wanderer' is a weird document. On a dying Earth, in the far-flung future, a man, an immortal, types the tale of his aeon-long life as prey, as a hunted man; he tells of his quitting the Himalayas, his sanctuary for thousands of years, to return to his birthplace, London, to write the memoirs; and writes, also, of the night he learned he was cursed with life without cease, an evening in a pub in that city, early in the twenty-first century, a gathering to tell of eldritch experiences undergone.
Is 'The Wanderer' a fiction, perhaps Peterkin's last novel, or something far stranger? Perhaps more 'account' than 'story'?


'The Wanderer' is one of the best books of 2014, hands down. Weird fiction is dominated by short stories and novellas, and it's rare that a novel length piece of work comes along that is as engaging throughout as this book. Jarvis explores many ideas over the course of his novel: what happens when man crosses borders into strange places he is not meant to be, what is it like to be hunted and live in fear, how does immortality over the ages affect a person? The novel is filled with scenes of terror, scenes of awe, and a glimpse into an ordinary man's millenia-spanning world. I say this is my favorite novel of 2014, and it's a statement I stand by. Jarvis has chops, and 'The Wanderer' is an epic sized tale of weirdness and horror that no one should miss. It's terrifying, mind-bending, beautiful and unforgettable. ~ Justin Steele, Arkham Digest

'The Wanderer' is a labyrinth of fact and fiction, of stories within stories, of textual ambiguity. It somehow manages to combine elements of the Gothics and pulps, old-school science fiction, with a thoroughly modern understanding of horror and the weird. It contains shout outs to many classics of the genre, in particular Poe, Lovecraft and Jules Verne... and indeed, in one bravura passage it manages to encompass almost the entire history of weird fiction into its own fictitious universe. It's gory in places, it's philosophical, it's darkly comic, it's deeply serious yet in parts has the tone of a shaggy dog story told in a disreputable public house. In short, it's one of the best novels I've read for a long time: original, disturbing and witty. I'm certain it will repay rereading as well, as the significance of certain earlier sections only becomes clear later on. I thought it outstanding. ~ James Everington, Scattershot Writing

A lost writer, an old manuscript (partly in unknown tongues), a sinister puppet show, a timeslip into the far future, and a bitter understanding of what lies behind the façade of the world. It’s a brave writer who could take those ancient rituals of the dark fantastic and make them work in a fervid new form. But that is the achievement of 'The Wanderer' by Timothy J Jarvis, an astonishing debut novel deeply infused with the traditions of supernatural and metaphysical fiction. Most of all, though, 'The Wanderer' is that rare thing, a thoroughly engrossing and exhilarating story, laced with playfulness, which also glimmers with intelligence and audacity. We should be wary, though. The book itself reveals a force seeking out certain artists, poets, and others, as prey it can pursue forever through the underworld – an infinitely dark and cruel game of the kind hinted at by Sarban in 'The Sound of His Horn', but vaster still in its remorselessness and terror. How do we know it isn’t one more lure in that labyrinth? Don’t read this book unless you’re ready to defy the gates of Hell. ~ Mark Valentine, Wormwoodiana

In his introduction to the recent New York Review of Books edition of two horror novels by William Sloane, Stephen King writes that the books are 'actual works of literature,' in that slightly embarrassed way fans of genre fiction have of explaining themselves to others. 'Actual literature' is code for things like 'well-developed characters' and 'non-formulaic plots,' and as much as genre fans may bridle at such distinctions, few of them have not experienced the rush of joy that accompanies the discovery of a book that can be safely recommended to one’s non-genre-reading friends. Look – characters! Accomplished prose! Literature! This is approximately the sensation one feels when reading 'The Wanderer', Timothy J. Jarvis’ debut novel. A tricky, postmodern work that can function as a collection of short stories as easily as a science fiction novel, and is best received as both at the same time, it’s the sort of weird fiction that you’d give to someone to convert them to weird fiction. This is an extraordinarily accomplished first novel, and readers of weird fiction have much cause for celebration at the prospect of a second. In a corner of the literary world where 'actual literature' is all too rare, Timothy Jarvis’ 'The Wanderer' is the real thing. ~ Tom Breen, Muzzleland Press

'The Wanderer' is the debut novel by Timothy Jarvis. I read it a couple of months ago and the book’s blend of Shielian 'last man' fantasy and time-twisted, oneiric horror has stayed with me ever since the last page. This review is a much-expanded version of a short post I felt I had to put on Facebook shortly after reaching the end of this brilliant, brilliant book. This is an intelligent, ludic work, beautifully articulate and poetic, with respectful yet impish reverence given to the best writers of strange stories over the last few decades. It’s also surprisingly and delightfully grim in all the right ways. 'The Wanderer' has been my novel of the year so far, and there’s only a few weeks left of this one so I can’t see it being bettered; in fact, I haven’t read as cohesive and compelling a weird fiction novel in a very long time. The fact that it is a debut makes it all the more revelatory and I cannot recommend this book enough. Even with the teetering pile(s) of titles on my to read list, I sense that I’ll be revisiting this one very soon to see what I may have missed along the way the first time. ~ Brian Lavelle, No Time Is Passing

'The Wanderer' by Timothy J. Jarvis is a novel, or a found manuscript, or a dream. It tells of those who have seen through rifts in the thin veneer of our superficial world and entered into a deeper, unfathomably dark meta-reality. The story (or stories, as it contains many) spans vast swathes of time, and equally traverses the geography of our globe's cities, shadows and far flung desolate spaces to tell its story of impending, unassailable terror. This is the kind of novel that demands to be read again, and surely new aspects will then surface to delight and disturb. Who knows where I'll find myself re-reading this in the future though? In a cosy pub, on board a founded ship, at a Punch and Judy show, in Glasgow, London, or somewhere beneath them all? ~ Chris Whitehead, Taphonomy

Imagine a novel that tries to define supernatural horror fiction while re-defining it for a modern sensibility. The nearest example I can think of is 'The Ceremonies' by T.E.D. Klein, a book many considered a qualified failure. Well, a second contender has now emerged in the form of 'The Wanderer', a remarkable debut from a British author. 'The Wanderer' is a remarkable achievement, albeit a flawed one. As one review (quoted in the book) succinctly remarks, reading it is a little like wandering through a library assembled by some insane devotee of fantastic atrocities and excesses. ~ David Longhorn, The Supernatural Tales Blog

If you love good old-fashioned weird stories or if you've ever considered yourself to be a fan of weird fiction, you must read 'The Wanderer'. This novel is essential reading material for fans of the weirder side of speculative fiction, because it's an exceptionally good and well written novel. A few excellent weird fiction short story collections have been published this year, but 'The Wanderer' is without a doubt the best weird fiction debut novel of the year, so readers of weird fiction should put it immediately to their reading list. 'The Wanderer' is an ambitious, gorgeously weird, beautifully written and stunningly original novel. In other words, it's weird fiction as it should be. It's a literary masterpiece that beckons readers to re-read it and enjoy its strange atmosphere time and time again. 'The Wanderer' is yet an undiscovered gem, but I'm sure that it will be found and loved by many readers. Highly recommended! ~ Seregil of Rhiminee, Risingshadow

I thought this book was impressive, especially for a first time effort. I will be looking for more from this author in the future, because I did enjoy his imaginative telling of this super weird tale. Highly recommended! ~ Charlene, Char's Horror Corner

A fiendishly wrought labyrinth of tales within tales, opening out from the most intimate horrors into aeons of desolation, wonderfully written and devilishly compelling. ~ Hal Duncan, author of 'Vellum' and 'Ink'

Achieves an uncanny and unsettling quality, trailing itself spookily across the tender membrane of the reader's imagination. ~ Adam Roberts, author of 'Twenty Trillion Leagues Under the Sea' and 'Jack Glass'

Easily one of the best modern horror novels I have read in many, many years. Imagine M P Shiel and William Hope Hodgson channeled through Mark Samuels, with frequent scenes of quite nightmarish ghastly horror and cruelty that read like Reggie Oliver doing a novelisation of CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST. Witty, clever, and utterly, deliciously horrific. I can't begin to describe how impressed I was with this, and how much I enjoyed it. Just marvellous. ~ John Llewellyn Probert, author of 'The Nine Deaths of Dr. Valentine' and 'The House that Death Built'

From a satanic Punch and Judy show staged in the catacombs beneath London, to a ruined city stalked by warring immortals at the ends of the Earth, and maybe even beyond, Timothy J. Jarvis's debut novel draws together London horrors familiar and fresh, retold and reinvented, to thrilling effect. 'The Wanderer' is a grimoire, filled with stories about stories, stories within stories, legends, folktales, histories and foretellings. It's a book you’ll stay up all night reading – both to find out what happens next, and to forfend the nightmares it will surely inspire. ~ Neil D. A. Stewart, author of 'The Glasgow Coma Scale'

A little like wandering through a library assembled by some insane devotee of fantastic atrocities and excesses. ~ Robert Maslen, editor of 'Mervyn Peake: Collected Poems'

Timothy J. Jarvis
Timothy J. Jarvis Timothy J. Jarvis is a writer and scholar with an interest in the antic, the weird, the strange. His short-fiction has appeared in 'Caledoni...
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