Horror Story Review: "Mother of Toads" by Clark Ashton Smith

@msiduri (5750)
United States
March 13, 2016 4:04pm CST
In this uncomfortable little tale, Pierre Baudin, an apothecary’s apprentice, is sent out to the swamp to the witch Mère Antoinette’s house to obtain a certain substance for his master. As he’s about to take his leave, she asks, "Why must you always hurry away, my little one?" Upon receiving no answer, she persists, "Stay awhile tonight, my pretty orphan. No one will miss you in the village. And your master will not mind." Pierre wants to get out, even if walking through the swamp is unpleasant, even if the fog is moving in. “She was repellently fat and lumpish, and her skin possessed an unwholesome pallor. Also, her repute was such as to have nullified the attractions of a younger and fairer sorceress. Her witchcraft had made her feared among the peasantry of that remote province, where belief in spells and philters was still common. The people of Averoigne called her La Mère des Crapauds, Mother of Toads…” But she knows what he wants and offers him wine. He pauses. Will she assure him she hasn’t added anything of her own to it? Why, of course she hasn’t. He drinks. He gets sleepy. And next morning when he wakes up, the things he sees… I found this story unpleasant and uncomfortable reading. It was a disappointment after the recent story, “Monsters in the Night,” which I enjoyed. This story is part of what is called the Averoigne series, that is, a group of stories set in a fictional province of France. Author Clark Ashton Smith based Averoigne on the real province of Auvergne. The text of the story is available here. _____ Title: “Mother of Toads” Author: Clark Ashton Smith First published: Weird Tales July 1938 Source: ISFDB
Clark Ashton Smith Weird Tales Edited Version "Why must you always hurry away, my little one?" The voice of Mere Antoinette, the witch, was an amorous croaking. She ogled Pierre, the apothecary's young apprentice, with eyes full-orbed and unblinking as tho
3 people like this
4 responses
@celticeagle (119157)
• Boise, Idaho
14 Mar 16
Sounds like an interesting author.
2 people like this
@msiduri (5750)
• United States
14 Mar 16
The author is interesting for anyone who like early horror, but this particular story I didn't care for.
2 people like this
@celticeagle (119157)
• Boise, Idaho
15 Mar 16
@msiduri .....Sounds dark. I sure don't need that.
1 person likes this
@msiduri (5750)
• United States
15 Mar 16
@celticeagle I don't blame you.
1 person likes this
@JohnRoberts (60971)
• Los Angeles, California
3 Jun 16
Weird Tales is more pulp fiction. It does sound odd and Pierre is an idiot.
1 person likes this
@msiduri (5750)
• United States
3 Jun 16
Well, that made me chuckle.
• Preston, England
14 Mar 16
I have read quite a lot of Clark Ashton Smith - he really captures strange mysterious landscapes brilliantly - a great fantasy writer
1 person likes this
@msiduri (5750)
• United States
14 Mar 16
I agree. Like his contemporary, Lovecraft, he's fantastic at setting an atmosphere. This particular story struck a sour note.
1 person likes this
@teamfreak16 (41175)
• Colorado Springs, Colorado
13 Mar 16
I'll be sure to stay away.
1 person likes this
@msiduri (5750)
• United States
13 Mar 16
*chuckle*
1 person likes this