After a down-on-his-luck scholar takes a job as a live-in secretary, translator and general assistant to an elderly occultist, he begins to experience a sense of deep unease. Strange noises in the night disturb his sleep and the obvious state of fear in which his employer lives only enhance this feeling.
Soon, events cause the occultist to divulge the fact that he and his brother had been dark magicians before he killed his more-powerful twin, and that the noises are his sibling's dismembered body parts returning to drive the man insane with terror before murdering him. He further reveals that he brought the other man into his home in an effort to find a way to banish his brother's restless spirit.
The story culminates with the various body parts of the dead body rejoining themselves, then killing his treacherous brother and dismembering the corpse with the same tools that were used upon his.
- Mr. Ogden, a well-educated man fluent in Arabic who goes to work for elderly occultist John Carnby.
- John Carnby, a lifelong occultist who grew jealous of his brother's superior knowledge, and killed him. He was later haunted by the discorporated spirit of his more-powerful sibling.
- Helman Carnby, John's brother and fellow occultist who was capable of delving deeper into the dark arts than his twin ever could, and was subsequently murdered for this. Later returned to wreak his revenge upon John.
Behind the Mythos
The Return of the Sorcerer was first published in Strange Tales of Mystery and Terror in September 1931, then in the March 1933 edition of Wonder Stories, and later received an eBook issue with Wildside Press's The Cthulhu Mythos Megapack in 2012.
In Other Media
The story was adapted as an episode of television horror anthology series Night Tales (first aired 24 September 1972) starring Vincent Price and Bill Bixby, and an episode of radio drama series Suspense featuring Tucker Smallwood (first aired 2012).
- The volume consulted by Ogden and Carnby in the search for a spell to exorcise Helman's spirit was an original Arabic version of the Necronomicon.