“The Garden of Fear” explores reincarnation, anthropology, theology, and evolution, through the quest of James Allison as Hunwulf, living a life that was once his own. It’s a riveting tale of primordial love and cosmic memory, set in a landscape both surreal and dangerous.

In a letter (#262) to Clark Ashton Smith, ca. October 1933, we learn:

I hope Crawford has good fortune with Unusual Stories. I let him have a yarn entitled “The Garden of Fear”, dealing with one of my various conceptions of the Hyborian and post-Hyborian world. He seemed to like the story very well, and I intend to let him have some more on the same order if he can use them. I have an idea which I’d like to work out in a series of that nature.

And in a letter (#265) to H.P. Lovecraft, on November 3, 1933, he says:

I’m looking forward to seeing Unusual Stories. I let Crawford have a yarn called “The Garden of Fear.

In the fall of 1933 William L. Crawford sent a circular to leading fans and authors announcing Unusual Stories. By the time the first issue appeared in the spring of 1934, the title had been changed to Marvel Tales. Howard’s story appeared in the second issue.

The story was published and Lovecraft liked it. We learn about this in a letter (#304) to HPL, ca. December 1934.

Glad you liked “The Garden of Fear” in Marvel Tales. I wrote that especially for Crawford when he asked me for a contribution. I hope he’ll be able to continue the publication.

The story

The story begins with James Allison, who possesses a unique ability to recall his past lives. As he lies on his deathbed, he vividly remembers being Hunwulf, a member of the Æsir tribe. Hunwulf’s life was marked by a ceaseless southward migration and the brutal realities of primitive existence. His intense love for Gudrun, a woman of unparalleled beauty, drives the narrative.

In their journey, Hunwulf and Gudrun face numerous perils, including hostile tribes, natural disasters, and terrifying creatures. After fleeing from their tribe due to Hunwulf’s murder of Gudrun’s betrothed, they find themselves in a village of brown-skinned people, where they learn of a menacing presence in the south.

Tragedy strikes when Gudrun is snatched away by a winged, ebony-skinned being, prompting Hunwulf to embark on a perilous rescue mission. Guided by a primitive map, he ventures into a valley dominated by a mysterious green tower and surrounded by a garden of eerie, blood-red flowers with a sinister life of their own.

Hunwulf’s confrontation with the winged captor—a survivor of an ancient, mythical race—culminates in a dramatic battle. Gudrun, using her own strength and courage, plays a crucial role in their escape. The story ends with the couple fleeing the valley, leaving behind the mysteries of the tower and its ancient inhabitant, unexplored and unsolved.


  • James Allison/Hunwulf: The protagonist, who recalls his past life as Hunwulf, a warrior of the Æsir tribe.
  • Gudrun: The love interest of Hunwulf, renowned for her extraordinary beauty and strength.
  • The Winged Man: A mysterious, powerful being with ebony skin and wings, possibly the last of a prehistoric race.
  • The Brown-skinned Villagers: Inhabitants of a village who warn Hunwulf of the dangers in the valley.
  • Mammoths: Gigantic creatures that inadvertently aid Hunwulf in his quest.
  • The Red Flowers: Carnivorous plants in the garden surrounding the green tower.

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