The Sign of the Spider

Cover image for


Author: Bertram Mitford
Published: 1896
Language: English
Wordcount: 89,714 / 266 pg
Flesch-Kincaid Reading Ease: 79.8
LoC Category: PR
Downloads: 3,162
Added to site: 2008.12.10 22820
Genres: Adventure, Pulp

A classic British adventure novel that turns the imperialistic genre on its head, with an anti-hero protagonist and a monster arachnid.

Show Excerpt

omotive, ultimately declining to go to sleep save with one tiny fist shut tight round the chimney thereof. That would counteract any passing effect that might be inspired by a vacant chair, thought Laurence Stanninghame, amid the roar of the mail train speeding through the raw haze of the early morning. Sentiment? feelings? What had he to do with such? They were luxuries, and as such only for those who could afford to indulge in them. He could not.



The R. M. S. Persian was cleaving her southward way through the smooth translucence of the tropical sea.

It was the middle of the morning. Her passengers, scattered around her quarter-deck in the coolness of the sheltering awning, were amusing themselves after their kind; some gregarious and chatting in groups, others singly, or in pairs, reading. The men were mostly in flannels and blazers, and deck-shoes; the women affected light arra


Average Rating of 4 from 3 reviews: ****
Henry L. Ratliff

(1896) Adventure African/ Pulp

R: * * * *

Plot bullets

  • A man leaves his responsibilities and sets off to South Africa to seek a fortune.

  • He makes good and then goes broke.

  • He joins a notorious man for a trip into the interior to replace his losses.

  • He gets involved in the slave trade.

  • He is captured by the race of the Spider.

  • His problems are not just with at race of people, but their namesake.

  • The sign of the spider seems to be everywhere. And he unknowingly carries it in the form of a gift. A gift that saves his life more than once.


As the previous reviewer said, the first third of this book is an endurance, mainly due to the main character. He’s self-pitying and selfish, and blames the world and his wife for his poor choices. He deserts his wife and family very early on, and they’re barely mentioned again throughout the book, other than as an irritating impediment to him doing exactly as he pleases. He gets involved in some pretty nasty doings, too. He does improve somewhat throughout the book, and the story itself is quite entertaining. The fight against the beast is particularly gripping.


To be honest, the first third of this book wasn't lighting my fire, but neither was it sending me to sleep.

We just had to endure as our anti-hero made his way to Africa and pondered his fate and life.
It was only when his luck and money ran dry that he was forced into an adventure of canibals, slave traders, man eating crocodiles, fighting off hordes of Zulu's and the terrifying spider-beast. The adventure portion has real propulsion and thunder.

Gripping, exciting and a beast so freakish you will be telling everyone about it. - A cracking adventure yarn that once underway is unputdownable.

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