Author(s): Brian Catling
The Vorrh is a vast unmapped and very mysterious jungle in Africa. No-one comes out of it in one piece. Survivors report strange, mind-bending phenomena and horrific monsters. It is rumoured that the Garden of Eden still exists somewhere in the middle of it. In The Erstwhile it transpires that some angels have escaped Eden and the Vorrh and are living in hiding in London, some in disguise as lunatics in Bedlam. It's also revealed that William Blake, a character in these novels, is interacting with these angels. Good and evil angels and humans, including William Blake, are heading towards a final, Miltonic apocalyptic battle for the soul of humanity. The Erstwhile is the second book in the Vorrh trilogy.
I am glad to have the book as a companion on my own dark quest. -- Tom Waits Catling's novel reads like a long-lost classic of Decadent or Symbolist literature, with that same sense of timelessness. It's peculiar, wildly imaginative, unafraid to transgress and get lost, and is unlike anything I've ever read. -- Jeff VanderMeer, author of the Southern Reach Trilogy Darkly imaginative... Packed with striking images ... real beauty and power. Kirkus Brian Catling's The Vorrh blew me away (along with my ideas of what fantasy novels should do) when it came out in 2012. I've just finished the second of the trilogy - The Erstwhile - and it's even better. Set in London, Germany and Africa, the book features William Blake alongside its cast of monsters and adventurers. These are luminous and visionary novels - Gormenghast reimagined by Alan Moore on opium. -- Alex Preston The Observer One of the most original works of visionary fiction since Mervyn Peake. -- Michael Moorcock The Guardian This is fine stuff. Like the best fantasy writers Catling succeeds in creating a compelling and believable parallel dimension. Daily Mail Although comparisons to Michael Moorcock and Mervyn Peake will inevitably be drawn, The Vorrh offers something more...It reminded me of Odilon Redon: a combination of the luminous, the luxurious, monstrous flora and dark wit. -- Stuart Kelly TLS The English language has given birth to some great works of unbounded vision and imagination, and here is another one... It's a very sophisticated and subtle exploration of the decadent, primitive and the mythical. Many books are said to be like nothing else, and aren't, but Brian Catling's really is. -- Philip Pullman I really loved Brian Catling's The Vorrh. It's a hot storm of a novel bursting with art and history, sex and nature. A visionary fantasy epic that is incredibly fun to read. Wildly different, but no less remarkable. -- Max Porter The Guardian
Brian Catling (born in London, 1948) is an English sculptor, poet, novelist, film maker and performance artist.He was educated at North East London Polytechnic and the Royal College of Art. He now holds the post of Professor of Fine Art at The Ruskin School of Drawing and Fine Art, Oxford and is a fellow of Linacre College. He has been exhibiting his work internationally since the 1970s. Some of his most notable works and performances include: Quill Two at Matt's Gallery, Dilston Grove in 2011, Antix at Matt's Gallery in 2006, a commissoned memorial to the Site of Execution, Tower of London in 2007, Vanished! A Video Seance made with screenwriter Tony Grisoni in 1999 and Cyclops at South London Gallery 1996. In 2001 he co founded the international performance collective WiTW. As a writer he has published poetic works, including one compendium A Court of Miracles in 2009. His first prose book Bobby Awl was published in 2007.