I stayed up far too late one night recently (for a school night), to finish THE REVENANT, by Michael Punke. Parts of this novel reminded me of Algernon Blackwood:
“It was an interlude that he held as sacred as Sabbath, the brief segue between the light of day and the dark of night. The retreating sun drew with it the harshness of the plain. Howling winds ebbed, replaced by an utter stillness that seemed impossible for a vista so grand. The colors too were transformed. Stark daytime hues blended and blurred, softened by a gentle wash of ever darkening purples and blues.
It was a moment of reflection in a space so vast it could only be divine.
And if Glass believed in a god, surely it resided in this great western expanse. Not a physical presence, but an idea, something beyond man’s ability to comprehend, something larger.”
I think that is a great evocation of the wonder and awe often found in the weird and horror. I once had a similar experience, in that same stillness, but combined with a near suffocating terror in which I felt too close to the sky; this was on top of a mountain, Cadair Idris, in 2012 (my cellphone pic was taken after the descent).Too much beauty on an epic scale became terror. I’d guess that a few of us chase this kind of experience in the fiction we write.
THE NORTH WATER by Ian McGuire was another treat when I had a yearning for an epic adventure story. I thought this novel was superb. One for readers who love Cormac McCarthy’s novels (do we have an English McCarthy here?) and Dan Simmons’s THE TERROR. As gruesome, sensory, and as epic as a Shakespearean tragedy. Loved it.
Cavendish and Drax, what horrors.
I find the chapbook and novella great formats to read before bedtime (a short book that I can finish in one sitting) and the book specs in the chapbook format have come a long way too.
THE VISIBLE FILTH by Nathan Ballingrud was an insightful character study, and commanded an effective build of dread and of the inexplicable. It’s also, quite simply, as fresh and surprising as everything else that I’ve read by the author. One of the best final pages I can remember reading in horror too. I think I may have actually shuddered.
THE HARLEQUIN by Nina Allan is a clever and imaginative speculative story about the catastrophic effects of war (Great War) on its survivors. Had I’d been told that this had been written in the 30s or 40s by one of the leading writers of the time, I’d have believed it.
William Gay’s two story (plus a short essay) chapbook, WITTGENSTEIN’S LOLITA & THE ICEMAN is wonderful and worth collecting. Sadly departed, but what a master he was. I thought these two stories were as good as just about anything in the superb, I HATE TO SEE THAT EVENING SUN GO DOWN.
Right from the opening paragraph, the quality of the authorial voice in each of these works, assured me that I was in for a treat, and I was.[From Wittgenstein’s Lolita]: “Through a deep blue dusk that fell at the very end of a season of ruin he came up past the landscape of ruin itself. Looming palely out of a coming dark were statuary, birdbaths, Madonnas, unarmed Venuses, capering cherubim, shapeless shapes past all indentifying. The yard as it climbed toward the yellowlit house at its summit looked like a dumping ground for sculptors, the repository for misbegotten art that resulted from clumsy hands, hangovers, dementia praecox. A yard sale from the attic of a madhouse.”