(Critical Survey of Science Fiction and Fantasy)

Little is known of Alexander de Comeau. No biography survives, and neither an obituary nor pictures have been found. His nationality may be either French or English. He wrote only two books, the first published by a vanity firm in London and the second, Monk’s Magic, issued simultaneously in London and America in 1931 by Methuen and Dutton, respectively. Letters sent to his publishers prove equally negative: The American publisher referred the matter to the English house, and Methuen reported that all correspondence and records were destroyed during the London Blitz. What survives of the author is encompassed within the 250 pages of his only readily available novel.

Monk’s Magic is a marvelous story, witty, sparkling, and filled with life and joie de vivre. It is an adventure of magic, fantasy, sorcery, love, and life. Dismas is a complex character, a shy, scholarly recluse who grows emotionally into a fully rounded human being. Not a man of action, he nevertheless does what is necessary to save his friends from death or torture. Radegonde, his paramour, has a bolder, more sparkling personality. Intelligent, humorous, and directly courageous, she takes fate into her own hands. Comeau’s humorous style anticipates that of L. Sprague de Camp and Fletcher Pratt ten years later, in their stories of Harold Shea, the incomplete enchanter.