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The Novel of the White Powder

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Author: Arthur Machen
Published: 1895
Language: English
Wordcount: 6,942 / 19 pg
Flesch-Kincaid Reading Ease: 77.2
LoC Category: PR
Downloads: 4,051
Added to site: 2005.12.04 11866
Genres: Horror, Short Story

A man's behavior takes a strange turn when he begins to take a new prescription. His sister can't decide if this is for the better or for the worse...

Show Excerpt

irs. His footsteps crossed the hall, and there was a pause at the door; I drew a long, sick breath with difficulty, and saw my face white in a little mirror, and he came in and stood at the door. There was an unutterable horror shining in his eyes; he steadied himself by holding the back of a chair with one hand, his lower lip trembled like a horse's, and he gulped and stammered unintelligible sounds before he spoke.

"I have seen that man," he began in a dry whisper. "I have been sitting in his presence for the last hour. My God! And I am alive and in my senses! I, who have dealt with death all my life, and have dabbled with the melting ruins of the earthly tabernacle. But not this, oh! not this," and he covered his face with his hands as if to shut out the sight of something before him.

"Do not send for me again, Miss Leicester," he said with more composure. "I can do nothing in this house. Good-bye."

As I watched him totter down the steps; and along the pavement towards his house, it se

Reader Reviews

Average Rating of 4.5 from 4 reviews: *****
Henry L. Ratliff

(1895) Horror (Supernatural) / Short story

From: The Three Impostors

R: * * * * *

Plot bullets

  • Francis Leicester overworks himself with his studies. His sister is concerned.

  • Dr. Haberden is consulted and Francis is prescribed a stimulate. It is a white powder, that he is to take twice a day.

  • The powder works wonders at first. However, his sister and others begin to notice strange behaviors after a while. There are also strange dark areas on his skin.

  • The doctor is again consulted and begins an investigation into the preparation made by the chemist (drug est).

  • Francis's brother chronicles the events , the effects and the outcome of the drug, to warn others, in 'The Novel of the White Powder.'.

One of the stories in Machen's 'The Three Impostors (1895)'.
In that story he connected several tales, by the presence of 'the man with spectacles'.

Sardo Weems

A short story that starts out as a mystery and ends up supernatural. The writing (descriptions, plotting) is better than most of the type.


It'll keep you interested to find out what's wrong with the brother and how it ended. It's a great story.


Excellent read! The suspense builds page by page to reach a terrifying climax at the end.



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