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Eldritch Location / Literature

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Eldritch Locations in literature.


  • The Kavach Building in 14 by Peter Clines SEEMS innocuous enough. It's not. It has a door into SPACE for starters.
  • Hinted at in 2666 by Roberto Bolaño. All of the characters notice that something's... off about Santa Teresa, a fictionalized version of Ciudad Juarez, where some 3000 women have disappeared or been murdered since the 1990s. And then there's the mysterious nature of the book's title, which is hinted at in other Bolaño works as well. As one reviewer put it:
    There is something secret, horrible, and cosmic afoot, centered around Santa Teresa (and possibly culminating in the mystical year of the book's title, a date that is referred to in passing in Amulet as well). We can at most glimpse it, in those uncanny moments when the world seems wrong.[1]
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  • In Animorphs' The Andalite Chronicles, Elfangor, Loren, and Visser Three get hold of the Time Matrix, a time machine, at the same time and each simultaneously tries to use it to take them back to their home planets. The result is a horrifying mishmash of their memories of all three. At the edge of that world, there's nothing but zero space, and Loren's arm gets bent spacially back into her face when she tries to reach out there. At the center is the Time Matix itself, which is the key to getting out of there, but time speeds up for all matter that comes close, causing Elfangor and Loren to age five Earth years before they reach it, and are unable to change back after they escape.
  • Bas-Lag is a strange place to begin with, featuring dozens of sentient races, a city built in the corpse of a dead giant, bears built from flocks of birds and more, but any place that's been touched by the Torque is considered an Eldritch Location in-universe. Torque is a special kind of magic that, as its name suggests, twists things. The primary villains of Perdido Street Station are from the Cacotopic Stain, Bas-Lag's premier Torque locality. There is mention of the city of Seuroch, which was hit with a Fantastic Nuke to cover up what the Torque bombs it was initially hit with did. The Stain itself is probed in Iron Council, and it isn't pretty.
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  • Giant country and The Land of Dreams in The BFG. They're somewhere on Earth, but they've never been seen by man before the events of the book, no one had even suspected they may exist, and not even the BFG, who lives in the land of Giants, knows where it is. He gets there by homing instinct. The animated movie depicts it as actually being in another dimension entirely.
  • Glen Cook's The Black Company novels feature the Plain of Fear. The Plain is a vast wasteland that is home to wind-whales, flying mantas, walking trees, talking stones (called "menhir"), coral reefs (despite being a desert), and "change storms" that temporarily distort reality. In the third book, it is revealed that the strange denizens can leave the Plain if they so desire, though most of the world doesn't know that. It's also revealed that the Plain is the way it is because "Old Father Tree," the giant tree at the Plain's geographical center, is actually a Physical God summoned from Another Dimension thousands of years ago to serve as the can for a now-forgotten Big Bad. The oddities of the Plain are actually pieces of Old Father Tree's home world seeping into the Company's reality.
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  • The titular building in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and its sequel is imposing from the outside, but inside it turns out to be a Big Labyrinthine Building / Elaborate Underground Base that gets stranger and stranger the further one goes into it. There are chocolate rivers and fields (the latter work the way oil fields do), rock candy mines, fudge mountains, all in a curious variety of rooms and corridors. They can exist at least 10,000 feet below the surface of the Earth (in the 2013 stage musical adaptation, one character points out in vain that this can't be possible). Should one dare to go down deep enough via the Great Glass Elevator, a sinister Minus World where the spirits of people de-aged out of existence go can be accessed. The really unsettling thing is that, rather than a preexisting location that unknown forces might have left in this world, this wonderland was the secret work/design of a human being who doesn't have any magical abilities, but does have an extremely eccentric way of thinking.
  • Chronicles of the Emerged World: The layout of the sanctuary of time, due to the power of its element, has very little to do with regular laws of time and space. Sennar and Nihal are first faced with a room filled with a chaotic tangle of stairways; the first one they try leads to a dead end, and leaves them in a completely different, empty room when they go back down. They are afterward left wandering in a seemingly infinite maze of rooms and stairways connected by doors that often vanish when crossed, and when comparing notes cannot agree on how much time they passed there — Sennar believes they were only in there a few hours, but Nihal experienced several days.
  • The City & the City includes a rare non-supernatural example. The titular cities of Beszel and Ul Qoma occupy the same geographic area, but are separate political and cultural entities. Residents of one city are taught from birth to completely ignore the existence of the other, using among other things body language and color cues. Breaking this rule will invite a visit from the Secret Police that enforces the cities' separation, which never ends well. This means that next-door neighbors can be living in two separate countries and be completely unaware of the other's life. It gets particularly unusual in so-called "crosshatched areas", where the cities intersect and their citizens come within hair breadths of one another. However, there's nothing magical enforcing the separation: only tradition and the aforementioned police.
  • The Black Cathedral in Cthulhu Armageddon is a location which is made of organic and inorganic material, is made of non-Eulicidean geometry, and is located in several dimensions. It's also the base for the Big Bad and a former domain of the Elder Things.
  • H. P. Lovecraft's Cthulhu Mythos.
    • R'lyeh, the abode of Great Cthulhu, as described in "The Call of Cthulhu", is a city where angles of buildings seems to make little to no sense, creating optical illusions at every turn, and even gravity seems to not work entirely as expected. Of note, when Cthulhu himself awakens and chases down the unfortunate crew of sailors who have ended up there, one of them ends getting caught and eaten when he gets stuck by "an angle of masonry which shouldn't have been there; an angle which was acute, but behaved as if it were obtuse."
    • Lovecraft's writings have several of these in addition to R'lyeh. These include the subterranean N'knai, the planet Yuggoth with its black towers and rivers of pitch, and the Outer Void that exists beyond our four-dimensional space and is the dwelling place of the Outer Gods. The Dreamlands may also count, as it's apparently a separate plane of existence that shares a connection with our world.
    • The Plateau of Leng, that may exist somewhere in the Himalayas, in Antarctica, or in the Dreamlands, or possibly in all these places.
    • Wherever (or whatever) it was that could be seen from Erich Zahn's balcony, and drove him to compose such music. Probably extends somewhat to the entire street, given the narrator's later incapacity to locate it.
  • Bellona in Samuel R. Delany's Dhalgren. Bellona is a city located in the American Midwest, isolated from the rest of the world by some unknown space/time glitch. You can still get to it on foot. It is now inhabited mostly by gangs of various couleurs and civilians unsure about leaving for good.
  • Pandemonium and Heaven in Diablo. Both appear in the games, but the books go into more detail. Pandemonium is a chaotic never ending wasteland filled with the remains of fallen Angels and Demons, and scavenging predators. In addition to being made of marble, silver, and crystal buildings, Heaven is blindingly bright with the sun never setting, permeated with never ending music, and has no moisture in the air. Storm of Light shows that being in either place is extremely disorienting and hazardous to Humans, and Tyrael must train several characters to be able to withstand both places.
  • The titular Dis of Dis Acedia, a universe-sized, living maze composed of smaller worlds patchworked together.
  • Discworld:
    • The Dungeon Dimensions, which are basically an elemental plane of chaos. It exists outside of the borders of reality, and the Things that live there are just as shapeless and mind-bending as the place itself. It extends infinitely in all directions and completely lacks magic of any kind.
    • Death's Domain is definitely this. While it appears normal at first glance, the house is much Bigger on the Inside than it appears, there are a wide variety of shades of black, a peculiar blue glow appears on the horizon, the mountains can never be reached, time does not pass for mortals, and peculiar and unsettling shadows appear.
      • And in The Light Fantastic, when Rincewind and Twoflower pay Death a visit, they use a picture-taking imp to take a picture. The imp sees what is really there, is confused at the location ("Where ARE we? Three bloody years at F8 if you ask me.") When they look at the picture later, it is extremely unsettling and was NOT remotely what the visitors saw.
      • Death's boss Azrael potentially qualifies as an eldritch location in and of himself.
      • Time's glass house and the Tooth Fairy's castle also count as this. The Tooth Fairy's castle is surprisingly creepy, even the portions not influenced by the Tooth Fairy's previous job as the first Boogeyman. Justified because the Tooth Fairy is the protector of the teeth to ensure no one uses the teeth to control the children.
      • On the subject of Time, the monastery of Oi Dong probably also counts, as time functions differently there.
    • Lancre contains a few places like this, including the portal to the elves' world from Lords and Ladies and the "gnarly" ground in Carpe Jugulum.
    • As seen in Pyramids, time is rather screwy in Djelibeybi due to the massive presence of pyramids. Since in the Discworld pyramids accumulate time over the day, and release it back through their tips in the night only to reabsorb again during the day. This was originally made as a way to sharpen razors (or rather, as a way to "remind" razors of a time in which they were sharper and let them revisit it for a little while), but then proceeded into burial arrangements until there were so many pyramids around that time was always the same. Not a "Groundhog Day" Loop; there was a yesterday, there'd be a tomorrow, but the day was always the exact same 24 hours, causing heavy stagnation. And the very last pyramid stockpiled so much time during construction while unable to release it that it suddenly turned around 90 degrees, and dragged the rest of reality along, turning Djelibeybi into a whole pocket dimension inside a one-dimensional crack where all periods of time were simultaneous even if the day advanced normally, causing the whole Continuity Snarl of a pantheon to come to life and battle for dominance. Once this pyramid is detonated, along with all the rest, the whole land returns to a proper timeflow.
    • Unseen University, especially the library, which, in addition to being bigger on the inside than on the outside (quite possibly to the degree of being significantly larger than the entire rest of the planet including Great A'tuin) also, among other things, has corridors that lead off to other points in time.
      Rule 3 of the Library: Do not meddle with the nature of causality.
      • Note that most of the library's strangeness has nothing to do with being part of a Wizarding School. On the Disc, Knowledge = Power = Energy = Matter = Mass, and sufficient quantities of this "mass" can warp space until it creates a portal to an extradimensional library filled with every book that could ever possibly exist. "L-space" is connected to every library and bookshop in any given time period, which makes all of them eldritch to some degree and allows anyone familiar with it to travel between them.
      • The whole university in general is so magically charged that it randomly causes weird phenomena like animals spontaneously becoming sapient. Also, most of the rooms are larger inside than out (although not as much as the library)
    • The Empirical Crescent houses designed by Bloody Stupid Johnson, who managed (as usual) to create an Eldritch Location by mistake. The place is livable, but disquieting - for example, the front door of No.1 opens into the back bedroom of No.15, the ground floor window of No.3 showed the view from the second storey of No.9 and smoke from the dining-room fireplace of No.2 came out of the chimney of No.19.
    • The Desert is a massive, vast, sandy plane full of dunes and surrounded by mountains that never seems to get any closer, but is also ultimately what mostal souls must traverse to pass on. All beings end up there where they die, until they journey to the end to accept their afterlife. Despite this being where Death deposits everyone after harvesting their souls, it's incredibly rare for two individuals to meet in The Desert, and in fact only happens once in the series which surprises and impresses Death.
    • Inverted in The Science of Discworld books, where the mundane physics of the Roundworld universe — i.e. our own — seem like this trope to the wizards, who are used to things running on narrativium rather than rules.
  • Doctor Who Expanded Universe:
    • The Doctor's mind in Timewyrm: Revelation after the Timewyrm gets into him. It comprises of a well-kept garden, a library and even a ferry piloted by one of the Doctors. No wonder the Doctor's companion Ace is rather confused as to what is happening.
    • Faction Paradox:
      • The Eleven-Day Empire, a tract of space/time, shaped like XVIII century London, ritualistically separated from reality by eleven days that never existed. Specifically, when the 18th century British Empire shifted from the Julian to the Gregorian calendar, the date changed from the 2nd to the 14th of September. Figuring that nobody was using them, the Faction took those eleven days, cut them off from the rest of causality, and turned them into a twisted shadow version of Victorian London under a perpetually burning sky. It's a weird place. (In its introduction, it's explained that if you were to point out that the above doesn't really make sense, because a shift in the calendar doesn't "create" unused days, Faction Paradox would say that that's rather the point.)
      • And then there's the City of the Saved: the result of the fusion of the ultimate sum of all human technology in all of history merged with a goddess from the end of time. What does that equate to? A galaxy-wide sentient space station, containing all humans to ever exist in immortal, perfect bodies, including all hybrids and virtually all fictional characters ever, permanently anchored at the edge of the Universe in its last nanosecond before the birth of the next. Unfortunately, there was an infection of something that came out of the other end, and now the normally very pleasant City's infected with nightmarish industrial wastelands specialized in human experimentation. It's as horrific as it sounds.
  • The inner circles of Hell in Draconian Symphony seem to make sense at first glance, but Lascivus reveals that the landscape is an incestuous labyrinth of mismatched spatial dimensions.
  • The Realm in Dragoncharm. The Naturals have no inkling of it, and the Charmed can only see it by imagining a gateway so that they can choose whether or not to enter. If they do, masses of Eldritch Abominations are waiting to prey on the weak. Cumber chooses to see it as a thick membrane and to scratch a gash in it as his means of getting through.
  • The Dresden Files:
    • The Nevernever. In size, it is to Australia what Earth is to the Rhode islandnote , and the laws of physics just don't work the way they do in our world. In fact they almost never do. What goes beyond that is the dimensions between entrances isn't 1 to 1. There is a portal in Chicago that leads to a trail. Following the trail, one can get a person to Edinburgh, Scotland in a 30 minute walk. Even just moving a few feet in one direction can change where you enter into. Open a portal in a cemetery or shady area and expect a place with negative attributes, but move away from that to the nice home close by and you could find a veritable paradise. And that said, just because the place looks like a nice visit, Light Is Not Good may apply. The region Harry Dresden's apartment connects to is a beautiful garden with a giant killer centipede that if cut in half, now one has two centipede monsters to fight.
    • Demonreach, introduced in Small Favor, is a less alien but no less powerful site. Aside from being the source of a massive dark energy ley line, it is also self-aware and does not show up on any maps because ships disappear around it and aircraft navigation goes out close to it. In Cold Days, it is revealed to be a prison for Eldritch Abominations with skinwalkers being only in Minimum Security. And Harry's connection to the place sensed in Small Favor was the possibility where he become the Warden of the entire island, with the power to free everything inside on a whim.
  • In The First Law Trilogy, the House of the Maker qualifies. A massive, mysterious structure that nobody has been in for thousands of years that completely defies physics, such as the ability to ascend floors without the use of stairs or any other means.
  • The setting of Full Tilt is superficially an Amusement Park of Doom, but the "rides" expand into mini-worlds, ranging from a burned-out slum to a mock-up of ancient Egypt to an asteroid field made of Pintos that explode when touched. According to throwaway dialogue from its creator, it's less "real" than our own world, but it will become more real as more and more people are drawn into it, and all other worlds will become mere shadows.
  • The further West you go in the titular Half-Made World, the more the world becomes this. Since the world is still in the process of being created, the West exists in a constant state of flux where reality is more mutable. This manifests in the settled portions as the appearance of various supernatural entities or spirits note . The wild portions are significantly stranger. Notably, Your Mind Makes It Real but your mind also defines them and makes them concrete, so the further West people settle, the less strange the West becomes.
  • Harry Potter
    • Hogwarts school is definitely one: the staircases change; some doors will only open if tickled or asked nicely; the statues, paintings, suits of armor, and tapestries are all alive; it's occupied by ghosts and one poltergeist with a bad attitude; its lake is home to merpeople and a giant squid; and then there's the Forbidden Forest.
    • The Room of Requirement, a secret room found at Hogwarts, is strange even for Hogwarts standards. This room appears as what its user desires it to be, even when the user is not aware of the nature of the Room. For example, when Dumbledore needed to go to the toilet, it appeared as a room containing a collection of chamber pots and when Fred and George Weasly needed a place to hide from Filch, the Room appeared to them as a cupboard. This room was famously used by Harry Potter as a classroom for his illegal Defense Against the Dark Arts class during Umbridge's reign and once more as a hiding place for members of Dumbledore's Army to hide from the Carrows, a pair of Death Eater Sadist Teachers, during the height of the Second Wizarding War. In both cases, the Room of Requirement supplied the occupants with the appropriate furniture.
    • Harry describes the Burrow (the Weasley's house) as one of these, looking like it's held up by magic due to its uneven proportions.
    • Also a very confined one, whose rooms are organized by variety of weirdness (time-based, outer-spacey, etc): the Department of Mysteries in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. It exists for the purpose of studying how magic "really" works.
  • The ancient, expansive mansion of Evenmere in James Stoddard's The High House certainly is one. It is Bigger on the Inside with several rooms being able to support entire kingdoms, oceans and climates. Some sections are more surreal than others and the attic has an eldritch dinosaur (who is really a shape-changing draconic personification of despair.) It proves to be a benevolent example as the House is a mechanism for God to keep Creation from falling prey to entropy and chaos.
  • The cave in Hollow Places. It changes layout with every visit, contains a pool of water with strange restorative/wish granting properties, and features an anomaly that transports whoever takes eighty-one steps past a mysterious column to wherever they most desire to go (So long as such a place exists). In addition, there are a number of smaller phenomena, including a hall full of quartz formation that change shape depending on the explorer’s mood, preoccupations, or future concerns, and an echo that occurs in places it shouldn’t.
  • William Hope Hodgson's The House on the Borderland is a portal into vast abysses of time and space. Additionally, the surrounding countryside is infested with things from Beneath the Earth.
  • In the Incarnations of Immortality series, the raw, unmade substance from which Clotho spins thread is deep within one of these. Trees start to become geometric abstractions, and she walks on a path which goes upside down, and everything breaks down as she reaches the area from which she must collect the raw material from which to spin her threads.
  • The Duat in The Kane Chronicles. It's the expansion pack version of the Underworld from the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series by the same author (and canonically in the same universe). There are the shallower regions where we find the Halls of Maat, the center of Order in the universe and stronghold of the Egyptian Gods. And, presumably, the region controlled by the Olympians for their underworld and imprisoning the odd Eldritch Abomination. But then there are the deep reaches of the Duat, where there are vast gulfs even the gods fear to tread and Apophis lurks. This corresponds to the reaches where the Olympians tossed the remains of Kronos.
  • Stephen King:
    • The Dark Tower
    • From a Buick 8 theorizes that the eponymous car is a portal to such a place. Possibly subverted, as the... things that come out of the car seem to find humans just as horrible and terrifying as we find them.
    • The room in 1408. Both the short story and the movie are insistent that there's no ghosts.
    • The Overlook Hotel is even more clearly this trope in the original novel of The Shining. Not only does it retain the spirits of dead guests, it seems to control them and has an active intelligence and an agenda (specifically, murdering Danny so that it can absorb his psychic powers). At various portions in the book it actually speaks directly to characters, either through the ghosts or via direct telepathy (and it isn't particularly polite when it does). Furthermore, when the hotel explodes at the book's climax, one character sees something that cannot be described fly out of it and disappear into the sky.
    • The standing stones on Ackermann's field in N, from the Just After Sunset collection. And similar to that, the field, home of the ancient stone in Stephen King and Joe Hill's In the Tall Grass.
    • His forays into the Cthulhu mythos has Crouch End, which is perfectly normal if you overlook the multiple portals to a version of London filled with Creepy Children and monsters, and street signs bearing names from Lovecraft's work.
    • Another, less outwardly malicious eldritch location in King's work is the gentlemen's club at 249B East 35th, as featured in "The Breathing Method" and "The Man Who Would Not Shake Hands". It is filled with books and art that do not exist in our world, and is implied to be a gateway to several other universes.
    • Many of King's works include places that, while not necessarily supernatural by themselves, seem to attract evil. Such places include the Marsten House from Salem’s Lot, the Black House and, perhaps most interestingly, the Texas School Book Depositorynote  from 11/22/63. When Jake Epping saw the latter for the first time, he was deeply disturbed by its ugliness and described his feelings as being the same that when he met Pennywise the clown.
  • The lost city of Carcosa, "where black stars hang in the heavens; where the shadows of men's thoughts lengthen in the afternoon, when the twin suns sink into the lake of Hali. . ." From Robert Chambers's The King in Yellow, which he borrowed from Ambrose Bierce's "An Inhabitant of Carcosa". Later used by Lovecraft and his successor, August Derleth.
  • Charles Stross' The Laundry Files: In The Atrocity Archive, a portal to another universe is opened in which Heinrich Himmler and the Ahnenerbe SS managed to make a deal (via mass human sacrifices, natch) with Eldritch Abomination s (the Ice Giants) to win WWII. Guess what happened next in that universe. While you can admire Hitler's portrait chiseled onto the moon's surface by giant hands, it just so happens that alter-earth is now frozen to near absolute zero while the universe itself has redshifted into collapse mode and has just a few hours left to go. And something wants to get back through the portal to our side. This is bad!
  • Tar-Net from MARZENA is a cyber prison meant for AI super criminals, but don't think that would keep anybody from putting real humans in there too.
  • Robert Holdstock's Rhyhope Wood saga, starting with Mythago Wood. The titular wood is Bigger on the Inside, stretching far back into the mists of pre-literate human history and mythology. It's also something of a Genius Loci, with ways to prevent those who don't understand it well from penetrating beyond the outer fringes.
  • Brian Lumley's Necroscope novels have the vampire world which is home to a White Hole that plunged half the planet into and towered eternal night, and the Möbius Continuum.
  • The Neverending Story has quite a few of these:
    • The Wandering Mountain, an incomprehensibly large glacier-covered mesa said to be the size of an entire country, yet never occupying the same place twice, making the journey different every time. Additionally, no one may journey there until the last person to do so has not only died but passed out of all memory, or the mountain will simply not be accessible.
    • The Southern Oracle, which can only be entered through a Stargate-like door called the No-Key Gate. This door simply stands alone in an open field, and the only way to unlock it is to forget the reason you came in the first place.
    • Salamander, a city whose buildings and people are made entirely of fire. Atreyu's horse, quite naturally, would not go near the place.
    • Fantasia itself, if the incident at the Star Cloister is any indication. Bastian uses an enchanted stone to produce a light so blinding it pierces the heavens, and the space beyond is revealed to be... the attic of Bastian's school. In other words, he is looking out through the pages of the book. Not only this, but it's hinted that the real world is actually another Neverending Story that someone is reading in another universe.
  • Hodgson's The Night Land is a portrait of a sunless earth inhabited by ghosts, phenomena and monsters closing in on the Great Redoubt, the last city of humans, now a Dying Race. There are guys in the Redoubt whose job description is to peer into the Night Land from the pyramid's top and write down any changes, occurrences or notable events. Maps can be found at www.thenightland.co.uk.
  • Old Kingdom:
    • Death. It's divided into Nine Precincts, each separated by a gate, with a river running through them all. In all but the Ninth Precinct, the light is grey and has a closed-in quality that makes it difficult to see far. The water is always trying to pull people in, which is particularly not good if you're an Abhorsen or necromancer traversing it while alive. In the first eight precincts, it's also consistently chilly. The Fifth Precinct has water so deep that anything submerged in it comes out looking no longer human, and the Fifth Gate at the end is a waterclimb instead of a waterfall, which unsettles people. The Sixth Gate can open up at random, which is also dangerous. The Eighth Precinct has wandering clumps of smokeless fire. And this isn't even getting in to the Dead lurking about, who can be quite dangerous.
    • Goldenhand visits the Great Rift in the far north. It's indicated to be a connection between the world of the Old Kingdom and the remnants of one destroyed by Orannis. The Rift's first mention in Clariel, coupled with its appearance, suggest that it can link to both the destroyed world and an endless forest. The world beyond the Rift is an airless desolation filled with Free Magic.
  • The Perry Rhodan setting has seen its share of these. A prominent example used as the backdrop for basically an entire arc was the Land in the Deep ("Tiefenland" in the original German) — an artificial construct built into the void between the universes, a light-year across but with a nigh insurmountable ceiling only a couple thousand and change meters above its surface, populated by all manners of weird lifeforms whose ancestors were usually recruited from all over the universe millions of years ago... And then the subtle influence of the Deep eventually proved hostile to lifeforms from "above", with the results of overexposure resulting in anything from death (often via petrification) to corruption into antagonistic "grey life". By the time the protagonists Atlan and Jen Salik finally ended up there, things had already gone much as one might expect.
  • The Reynard Cycle: Vulp Vora, a land twisted and broken by ancient Demonic sorcery. Its cities rot beneath toxic jungles, wastelands burn with invisible fire, and mutants and monsters that defy easy description prowl in the shadows. It says a lot about the place that its best known functioning settlement is the haunted city of Carcosa. Needless to say, no one is keen on the prospect of traveling there.
  • Zones in Arkady and Boris Strugatsky's Roadside Picnic are areas afflicted maybe by the passage of aliens. Magic physics, acausal occurrences, strange (and monetizable) objects and sudden death can be found therein. Rumour has it that the Zone near Harmond, Canada contains a Wish Granter. Used by Andrei Tarkowski as the basis for the movie Stalker. No special effects were used; weird foam and snow are actual carcinogenic chemicals unloaded from industry around Tallin. This actually gave Tarkowski and several other people, as well as the dog, terminal cancer.
  • The land of the elves from the SERRAted Edge series, at least those parts not formed by a sufficiently strong will into some definite state. As with all travels into the realms of the Elves in this series, it is EXTREMELY hazardous to enter an unformed region without adequate (usually magical) assistance, and anything one can imagine (and many things one would rather not) may be found there. Entering with an unfamiliar Elf is actually MORE dangerous, because an untrained mortal is effectively incapable of distinguishing the Seelie (relatively benign) Elves from the Unseelie (Always Chaotic Evil) Elves until it's FAR too late.
  • In Dean Koontz's Seize the Night, military scientists have found a way into some kine of parallel universe of red skies and black, fungus-like trees. The protagonists initially believed the scientists had been building a time machine to the future. Actually, they may have opened a doorway to Hell - so to speak. One of the characters later postulates that our ideas of Heaven and Hell may have come from genuine mystics who were able to glimpse alternate dimensions, some incredibly alien to our own.
    "That's not the future. That's... sideways."
  • The Darke Halls in Septimus Heap are described as this, having the power of driving people to madness.
  • The Sister Verse and the Talons of Ruin is set within a sentient book that actively makes the reality of its occupants as miserable and bizarre as possible, including toxic landscapes of meat and teeth that exhale benzene into the atmosphere, and a world composed entirely of liquified flesh.
  • Stanislaw Lem's Solaris is a planet with an ocean not made of water that is alive and can manipulate the orbit of the planet (so that it stays in a stable orbit around its two suns) and reach into the minds of the research expedition to bring to life their inner daemons. Luckily for the protagonist, this turns out to be his late girlfriend. Which he drove to suicide.
  • A Song of Ice and Fire:
    • The House of the Undying, home of the Warlocks of Qarth. It only appears once, but as soon as she starts walks through it, Daenerys realises that the path she's taking should be impossible due to the positions of the building's outside walls. This is in addition to the various visions and illusions she sees while inside. It's unclear whether there is anything special about the building itself, or if it's simply the power of the its inhabitants that causes these effects, or what the intentions or morality of the Warlocks/the House/the Undying really are, since the Undying give Dany cryptic visions and prophecies and then try to eat her, but certain hallucinations she receives seem to be trying to draw her to some different eventuality from this, and the warlock is furious that she set fire to the place as she tried to escape.
    • The series also has the Ruins of Old Valyria. Valyria was The Empire of its day, a Magocracy that discovered dragons and used them to conquer much of the known world before the (thus far unexplained) Doom destroyed the heart of the empire in a single day. Now the coast of Valyria is known as "The Smoking Shore", which according to legend is haunted, (or worse) and any ships or explorers who try to visit it tend to vanish. The only exception to that thus far is Euron Greyjoy, a cunning and sadistic Pirate who practices Black Magic, (in a series where magic is usually extremely rare and limited) and returned from Valyria with numerous artifacts, some of which are hinted to be powerful magic.
    • Then there is the city of Asshai in the Shadowlands. It mainly consists of the ruins of an ancient and forgotten civilization, and it is bigger then all other great cities combined, though its population is quite small. The buildings are made of a black, greasy stone that drinks light, casting the city in an eternal gloom. All food has to be imported, as plants don't grow and animals die shortly after being brought there. The river 'Ash' is phosphorous, green and its fish are twisted and misshapen, with only very few able to eat them. Due to these conditions the only ones living there are powerful sorcerers practicing all kinds of forbidden Black Magic. And if all of this isn't enough to showcase just how wrong this place is, there is the fact that in the entire city there are absolutely no children.
  • The Wildeeps in The Sorcerer of the Wildeeps is a largely impassable jungle through which only one safe road exists. Said road changes locations almost by the hour and to step off it means certain death, reputedly by the hands of monsters that live in the Wildeeps, but actually by getting lost between worlds, as the Wild Deeps, as they are actually called, are a place where unnumbered universes and times intertwine.
  • The Southern Reach Trilogy is about expeditions into an eldritch location called Area X. It is separated from the rest of the world by an invisible barrier, with the only access being through a disorienting glowing corridor. The landscape inside seems similar to the environment outside, but the wildlife behaves strangely and the stars are in the wrong positions...
  • Star Wars Legends: Nathema from Revan appears pretty normal at first glance, albeit devoid of life. However, anyone that comes close enough senses an immense emptiness. The entire planet is devoid of the Force itself, the thing that is omnipresent everywhere else in the galaxy, even hyperspace. Being on the planet itself causes discomfort even in those who aren't sensitive to the Force, and it gets gradually worse the stronger ones connection is. Theron Shan, who has no sensitivity to the Force, expressed discomfort. The Exile felt the vacuum pull on her, trying to consume her to fill itself. Revan, one of the strongest Force users in history, was knocked unconscious before he even set foot on the planet.
  • The Stormlight Archive: Shadesmar. It is a parallel realm of reality built up entirely of tiny black glass beads, which represent the ideas of various things. One bead, for instance, is everything that people know about a certain stick in the wilderness, plus everything the stick knows about itself and the relevant portions of what humans think about sticks in general. Oh, and land here is sea there, and vice-versa. Technically, it's not a location, just another layer of reality. It is the Cognitive Realm, the realm of the mind, just as the normal world is the Physical Realm. Different worlds in The Cosmere have their own Cognitive Realms, which look different but function identically. Scadrial's Cognitive Realm, for example, has bundles of mist instead of beads.
  • In Sweet Story, the blurry side of town is a side of town where everything is blurry. No matter what you do, nothing ever comes into focus there and it's impossible to see any details of anything. People living there are poor and usually illiterate (it's hard to learn how to read when reading is impossible in your home) and it doubles as The City Narrows.
  • In Those That Wake, the tower is only visible to the protagonists and opens up into many different buildings across the city. There's also an endless looping forest.
  • Warhammer 40,000:
    • In Dan Abnett's Eisenhorn series, there is a similar place; the Alien Geometries is taken to its describable extreme (for instance, there are triangles that clearly have more than 360 degrees internally) and every little thing is another impossibility made possible. Most of those who enter lose their minds in a short while.
    • John French’s Thousand Sons trilogy takes place within the Eye of Terror and various other Warp-tainted regions of space, so it should come as no surprise that Ahriman visits such locations at least once a book:
      • Several locations in the trilogy are connected to the Crystal Labyrinth of Tzeentch, where stray thoughts and telepathic messages echo off the walls as audible sound, and where travelers can wander the seemingly endless corridors for long stretches of time before suddenly finding themselves in cavernous chambers with no visible entrances or exits. Unchanged shows that another part of the Labyrinth is a misty void full of floating stairways that veer off randomly and change directions when not observed, or in response to a person’s thoughts.
      • Ahriman: Exile: The Mad Oracle Menkaura lives within the hollow core of a perfectly smooth, spherical moon made of a single piece of black crystal. Its interior is implied to be part of the Labyrinth, and The Tale of Ctesias reveals that the moon is a "fane of oracles" which compels any daemon that takes up residence there to answer any question asked of it truthfully.
      • Ahriman: Sorcerer: Apollonia appears to be a normal moon on the surface, but its interior is riddled with perfectly circular tunnels that were formed by the stray thoughts of Magnus the Red. The place has been so heavily eroded by the Warp that the Athenaeum of Kallimakus (a psychic conduit into Magnus’s mind) is the only thing holding it together, and Apollonia implodes once Ahriman takes the Athenaeum for himself.
      • Ahriman: Unchanged: The Planet of the Sorcerers exists in a state of constant change. The buildings and streets of the capital city shift around on a daily basis, the streets echo with whispers and conversations that happened centuries ago, and the only semi-fixed landmark is the Tower of the Cyclops, which only appears when Magnus chooses to manifest on the planet. Magnus himself has complete control over the planet’s weather and geography, and he can grant this power to anyone he chooses. In the same book, Prospero isn’t just a dead world with a corrosive atmosphere and frequent acid rainstorms. The planet is surrounded by a Warp storm born from the pain and terror felt by its long-dead inhabitants, and several characters describe Prospero as a bleeding scar in the Warp. Anyone who enters the storm or sets foot on Prospero’s surface will be plagued by the whispers of the dead and vivid hallucinations of marauding Space Wolves.
    • In Graham McNeill's Ultramarines novel Dead Sky Black Sun, Uriel and Pasanius find that a Chaos-warped Afterlife Express has carried them into the Eye of Terror. Hideous, impossible landscapes haunted by monsters and holding many dead bodies, with tunnels that can drive people to murder and suicide, and a city of Alien Geometries with strange light creatures and impossible to trace routes, pollutants that come to life as Living Shadows and an Evil Tower of Ominousness. In fact, this sort of thing is common in Warpspace, Another Dimension which spaceships use for all interstellar travel. Also, there's a few regions where Warpspace and real space overlap, the largest one being the Eye of Terror.
  • Most of Wayside School is just an Academy of Adventure and not this trope. Its nineteenth story, however, is a classroom that does not exist run by a teacher no one has heard of whose students do the same mind-numbingly repetitive task over and over again forever, and those unfortunate souls who wind up there eventually find that after a while they lose all memory of the world outside the nineteenth story. One character even sincerely speculates that it may be hell.
  • Welcome to Night Vale, besides the titular Night Vale under Web Original, has King City, a small town in California that is impossible to reach if you try to drive to it.
  • The realm of the Aelfinn and the Eelfinn in The Wheel of Time is a pocket dimension full of bizarre Alien Geometry.


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