A hundred years ago, a series of terrible murders was committed in the village of Morbing Vyle. Now the place lies hidden behind a forest of burned-out blackened trees, and people in neighbouring towns prefer to forget it ever existed.
But Martin Smythe rediscovers it, following an old signpost and a hidden path. All that remains is a vicarage and a vast building site.
Eccentric characters inhabit the vicarage: Mr Quode, Melestrina Quode and their son, Baby Panker; Mr Caulkiss and his wife, Craylene; and Mr Scrab, kept outside in the back garden. They make Martin welcome – but there’s a price to pay.
Ignorant of his own danger, Martin investigates. What strange religious belief drives these people to try and build the largest church in the world? If they’re so religious, why is Mr Caulkiss obsessed with mechanical inventions, why is Mr Quode obsessed with gourmet cuisine? Martin is sure that the mysterious Vicar is at the bottom of it all.
Then he discovers that he is no longer free to leave . . .
Readers are advised to exercise extreme caution in relation to Chapter 45 of The Vicar of Morbing Vyle. describing the Vicar’s intended ‘Ultimate Work of Art’. The nature of the actual ‘Work’ itself should not be contemplated. Readers who attempt to imagine or hypothesize beyond the words of the text do so at their own risk. The publisher accepts no responsibility for any mental, emotional, or psychosomatic damage incurred.
There are many strange features to The Black Crusade, but ignore them! Enjoy the novel as a novel! Don’t worry about inserted diagrams, summarized chapters or the attempted preachings of Martin Smythe. Don’t worry about the conspiracy of vileness–it can’t touch us in the real world!
The story takes place in 1894, and tells of a Hungarian bank clerk, Basil Smorta, who falls hopelessly in lust with Volusia, aka ‘the Australian Songbird’. He follows her across Europe in company with a group of Fundamental Darwinists led by Lord Malicide Sain. They pursue their ‘Black Crusade’ at first by cart and carriage, then in Ingel Brankel’s Mobilator.
One bizarre and gruesome adventure follows another. The Ordeal of the Five Senses in the monks’ lavabo, the excruciating apotheosis of Brother Dragorian, the doting love of the Love-Vampires, the bomb-throwing police force of Orblast, the sleep-tranced villagers in Morbol Villica and the sarcophagus of the Great One, the legendary marquis himself.
Lurid, grotesque, black, bizarre, tasteless, gross and very very funny! There’s never been a novel like The Black Crusade!
Why do Horace Cull’s little loaves of bread have bones in them?
What is homicidal sexual mania and does Volusia really suffer from it?
Why do the Black Crusaders worship the evolutionary theory of the Holy Darwin?
How can the Black Crusaders recover a key from Brother Dragorian’s bowels?
And what IS the connection between the Marquis of Morbol Villica and the Vicar of Morbing Vyle?
(In 2004, The Black Crusade won the Aurealis Award for Best Horror Novel and the Aurealis Award for Best Novel in All Spec Fic Genres)