One of the greatest horror novels you’ve never read, Hébert’s dualistic perception of existence is seen in Children of the Black Sabbath, set in Quebec in 1944, with flashbacks to the preceding decade. Satanic rituals in an isolated mountainous area and religious ceremonies performed in the Convent of the Precious Blood are juxtaposed by means of narrative shifts. Witchcraft, demonic possession, exorcism, and satanic initiation find their corollaries in prayers, dedication to God, Mass, and initiation into cloistered life.
Children of the Black Sabbath is unsettling in its depiction of sordid sexual initiation in the world of sorcerers and deceit within the walls of the convent. As do many of Hébert’s other works, this novel probes the traditional conception of reality, suggesting the existence of another world that is dark and powerful.
As Thomas Tessier says in his introduction: “No spoilers here, let me just say that it is my favorite of all Anne Hébert’s work. It features a demonic young woman, Julie, and an inverted (or perverted, you may think) Immaculate Conception with the Devil. Thatís a starter. And it delivers on all fronts — superb writing, characters that engage, fear and dread. Oh, and some real nastiness along the way.”
Children of the Black Sabbath received Canada’s highest literary prize, the Governor Generalís Literary Award. Hébert won it three times, twice for her fiction and once for her poetry.
This edition features a new introduction by Thomas Tessier and new color and black & white artwork by Samuel Araya.