The Double Shadow: A Clark Ashton Smith Podcast

Episode #7: “The Mandrakes”

A transcript of this episode is now available.

This week’s episode is on “The Mandrakes.” At the beginning of the episode, we noted a change in our line-up and an error we’d made regarding story order. The proper story order is reflected on our About page, although we kept Colossus where it had been and noted where it should have been.

The movie Phil referenced about a woman whose feelings flow into her cooking was Like Water for Chocolate (1992). The Japanese horror film was Cure (1997).

Information about Gilles de Rais can be found here. De Rais was also hanged, but the article does not mention whether or not his corpse was then burned.

The Winners of our Giveaway

Many congrats to the winners of our giveaway, whose “lost or unwritten Averoigne story” ideas were read on the podcast today:

From Jason:

In the decaying ruins of an unnamed abbey, a young woman finds a manuscript purporting to be a true and accurate account of the habits and deeds of the wild loup-garou. She returns to her village and becomes obsessed with proving the validity of the document (and the veracity of the existence of the feral beasts) to the disbelieving townsfolk, going so far as to maul an old woman in a manner consistent with the manuscript to provide “evidence.” She is caught and cast out of the village, wandering in madness through the primeval forest until, joyously vindicated at last, she meets her death on the claws and teeth of a loup-garou.


In modern day Averoigne two friends embark on a road trip to sight see the horror haunted historical sights of the Averoignian countryside. Their adventure turns perilous when they realize that their journey is closely tailed by a stalking, flesh-hungry werebeast and they have to keep moving to survive.


A highwayman is hiding out in the woods of Averoigne at night when he comes upon a young woman; she tells him a disturbing story about a village whose inhabitants were picked off one by one by a loup-garou. At the end of the story the girl reveals that she herself was the loup-garou, and devours him.


The body of a sorcerer washes up on the shore of the Isoile River; whispers of his death begin surfacing around Averoigne and of the binding spell that died with him. Now free from the sorceries that imprisoned their shapeshifting abilities, an ancient family attempt to reclaim their wolfen birthright.

Thanks to all the listeners who submitted and promoted the contest!

Next time, we’ll be doing the published version of “The Beast of Averoigne.” For extra credit, though, read the original version of the story to understand the style he first intended and get a little more background than we’re given in the final version.

Music by: Kevin MacLeod and T.H. Larsen/Gracehoper (with permission) Egypt-style soundscape and Southern Gothic.

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  1. Ilker Yücel says:

    Gilles de Rais was indeed the basis for Bluebeard, and he was also referenced in several Lovecraft stories, including The Rats in the Walls.

  2. Sophia says:

    Another great episode!

    I wanted to mention another possible inspiration for the name of the villain in this story, Gilles Garnier, a 16th century French serial killer and alleged werewolf. Garnier, executed in 1573, killed and ate children. He was burned at the stake for murder, canibalism, sorcery and being a werewolf. wiki has a little bit about him here:

    • Ruth says:

      That is too awesome! I think that could definitely be one of his inspirations. Even if he’s less well-known than de Rais, we know that CAS read French and studied a bit about their history, so he could’ve encountered him.

    • Yogge Sothothe says:

      Sounds very plausible indeed.

  3. Genus Unknown says:

    There was also a Jean Grenier with pretty much the same story:

  4. Sophia says:

    I think it’s likely that CAS would have known of both Gilles Garnier and Jean Grenier, they are both really notorious cases amongst French werewolf stories and are frequently mentioned in the literature.

    Werewolves and wolf-like monsters are big in French folklore right into the mid-18th century (cf the Beast of Gévaudan in the 1760s), in a similar way to vampires in the countries of the former Yugoslavia.

  5. Sophia says:

    Thankyou! I’ve applied to join the forums, awaiting admin permission as we speak. I only know a bit of CAS’ work, mostly the Averoigne stuff (which I really like, he gets the feel of western European folklore right) plus a few odd bits here and there like the Death of Ilathotha (sp?).

    • Ruth says:

      Approved! And it’s really cool that you know the Averoigne stuff. Most people are only familiar with Zothique and possibly Hyperborea.

  6. Sophia says:

    It’s a matter of what was available. Until the invention of web archives like Eldritch Dark (, CAS’ work was really hard to get hold of here in the UK; it was mostly the odd story here and there in anthologies. The Averoigne stories were the most likely to appear so that’s where I started.