Forty-one years ago in New York City, a man known only as Simon walks into a witchcraft supply shop with a cardboard manuscript box, the kind of thing you see in library rare book departments. He estimates that the work in his possession is six or seven hundred years old.

Simon is a Slavonic Orthodox priest, a student of the occult, but until he walked into that shop he didn't know anything about H.P. Lovecraft, a writer of "weird fiction" (the literary forefather of both science fiction and horror). Neither had he heard of the Necronomicon, a book that the author had invented for his stories. It's supposed to be an incredibly powerful grimoire, or collection of spells and incantations, and as Lovecraft was in the habit of blending reality and fantasy in his books — even going so far as enlisting other "weird" writers to expand on his characters and locations in their own stories — more credulous readers came to believe that the Necronomicon was real. It was as if Luke Skywalker was real, or the flying skateboards from Back To The Future were real.