Laird Barron has emerged as one of the strongest voices in modern horror and dark fantasy fiction, building on the eldritch tradition pioneered by writers such as H. P. Lovecraft, Peter Straub, and Thomas Ligotti. His stories have garnered critical acclaim and been reprinted in numerous year's best anthologies and nominated for multiple awards, including the Crawford, International Horror Guild, Shirley Jackson, Theodore Sturgeon, and World Fantasy Awards. His debut collection, The Imago Sequence and Other Stories, was the inaugural winner of the Shirley Jackson Award. He returns with his second collection, Occultation. Pitting ordinary men and women against a carnivorous, chaotic cosmos, Occultation's eight tales of terror (two never before published) include the Theodore Sturgeon and Shirley Jackson Award-nominated story "The Forest" and Shirley Jackson Award nominee "The Lagerstatte."
©2010 Laird Barron (P)2014 Audible Inc.
Each of Barron's stories is a wonderful microcosm populated by believable, complex characters with rich back-stories. The horror and suspense work so well because we actually care about the people, we feel that they have lives, and we watch with them in fascination and horror as their world slowly and inexorably unravels; revealing the dark secret at the heart of things..
It's hard to pick just one, but I really liked the protagonist of "The Lagerstatte". In a story that's essentially about grief, it's all too easy to write a character that comes off as self-pitying or whiny, so I was pleasantly surprised that despite the story's overall bleak tone, the main character (who is a grieving widow) comes off as both strong and quite funny in places. It is even more surprising when you consider Barron's penchant for writing stories populated by "Manley Men" that he writes sympathetic and believable female characters, and it really illustrates his versatility as a writer.
Mr. Drummond does an excellent job bringing the stories to life, he conveys the terror, confusion, anger, helplessness, and exasperation of the characters without becoming cartoonish or melodramatic. I did feel that some of the voices he does in "The Broadswords" were a little over the top, but overall I loved his narration and I hope he continues to narrate Barron's works.
Absolutely. In fact, I wanted to listen to the whole book again the moment it ended, something that I've not experienced in years.
If you've not heard of Barron, this collection is an excellent introduction to his brand of terror. That is, stories that manage to be both literary and visceral, stories that celebrates many of the horror genre's tropes and conventions while at the some time subverting them. There's really no one out there writing works like Barron and if you love horror (especially horror of the cosmic, psychological, and somewhat pessimistic variety) then you owe it to yourself to buy this collection ASAP!
I'll be thinking about these stories for a long time to come. Laird Barron makes me feel like I'm being watched.
Creepily, expertly read. And the writing! Don't get me started...
The Shadows Beckon
Murgunstrumm and Others By Hugh B. Cave. also The Book of Cthulhu 1 and 2.
There is Historical Lore here that begs one to continue to turn the page. Assortment of stories with a common theme that stays focused on the main antagonist, a Black Book a tour guide to roads, places, and peoples who are of the dark and love you, mostly because you are delicious to them. They also appreciate how well they can fit inside your skin, then your life impersonating, and then frightening their next selected course on the menu. What makes his work so original is his villans are reluctant then accepting, and finally eager to fulfill their compact with the great dark.
Captivating sincerity and memorable characters are even more deeply brought to life by someone with the ability to create growing passion and connections thru even the most subtle of nuances. Humorous places made me laugh out loud, the creepiness made me want to go looking for these places to experience the haunting for myself. I am fascinated by the otherness of the World and do not fear the nature of darker places. David Drummond reminded me of how those characters are so at home in the dark and are just being themselves and evoking answers to why people are in a most primal sense afraid of the dark.
The end of the last story where the mans fate is sealed by his curiosity. Reminded me of Seven. How even with all the "reality" we see around ourselves there are places that eventually, if we ignore the warnings from inside, we will be called towards and participate in the fulfillment of others well thought out designs.
I have just recently discovered this Author. Intrigued by him with the story "The Men from Porlock" wherein we are introduced to Boris Kasimov. This was from a Themed compilation called The Book of Cthulhu, tales of Lovecraft themes by modern writers. After that story, its amazing ability to take a children nursery tale and revise it with enhancements that seem a missed train of logical and progressive thought. Expanding even more the adult truth of why Grimm's Fairy tales were sinister warnings and not innocent literature. I knew this is the work of a Master of the Art with a Shamans skill of crafting depth, belief and historical curiosity. What is "real" about this work is there are droves of people going missing in the forest, and even today the leaders of the Native American tribes are hesitant to speak of the skin-walker. There are totems and rituals practiced even today to prevent such beings from entering a domicile on the reservations. Laird Barron has the remarkable gift of taking a fragment of lore and expounding upon it so uniquely that he like Howard Phillips Lovecraft will be given the honored gratis of people believing the guide actually exists and he is using fiction to warn us of the very real dangers lurking everywhere in all the shadows especially in the forests among the trees. I am devouring everything I can get my hands on by this author. I love his work and look forward to what other characters he can adopt into his Legendary Universe. Like Neil Gaiman he has created a startling Mythos that is in its infancy, I am eager to see how more populated his Worlds will become and who is next called to dine at the table by the Dark Abyss.
Very eerie Pacific Northwest feel is captured throughout, with average, everyday characters gradually broken in turn by something otherworldly or unknown.
Unsettling and Adult, but even funny at times, I quite enjoyed it and will seek out his other works ASAP.
Loved it! Stories create a complete atmosphere of horror. Characters are realistic and well performed. Not to be read for quick thrills. I became immersed in these stories. If you like writers such as Lovecraft or Ramsay Campbell then this collection is for you
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