John Langan has, in the last few years, established himself as one of the leading voices in contemporary horror literature. Gifted with a supple and mellifluous prose style, an imagination that can conjure up clutching terrors with seeming effortlessness, and a thorough knowledge of the rich heritage of weird fiction, Langan has already garnered his share of accolades. This new collection of nine substantial stories includes such masterworks as "Technicolor," an ingenious riff on Poe's "Masque of the Red Death"; "How the Day Runs Down," a gripping tale of the undead; and "The Shallows," a powerful tale of the Cthulhu Mythos. The capstone to the collection is a previously unpublished novella of supernatural terror, "Mother of Stone." With an introduction by Jeffrey Ford and an afterword by Laird Barron.
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2013-04-29
- Reviewer: Staff
The themes of Langan's powerful second collection of weird fiction (after Mr. Gaunt and Other Uneasy Tales) divide evenly between monsters and metafictions. The suspenseful title tale chronicles the desperate efforts of several army veterans to destroy a vampiric entity that decimated their platoon in Fallujah. "City of the Dog" evokes Lovecraftian horrors in its account of a modern ghoul-master and his terrifying minions. In "Mother of Stone," a cursed statue is a conduit for horrors from the primitive past. Several of the book's more ingenious stories deliver their scares in the course of exploring how horror stories achieve their dramatic effect, notably "Technicolor," presented as an academic lecture on Poe's fiction that ultimately draws the classroom into its final nightmare, and "The Revel," an effective werewolf tale crafted from a critical dissection of the clichés of werewolf fiction. Most of the eight stories are of novella length, which gives Langan room to build atmosphere and take their plots in unexpected directions. Fans of highly original modern horror fiction will find this volume a must-read. (May)