And lastly, we turn our attention to our Artist Spotlight, the amazing Samual Araya and his full cover art for A Darke Phantastique. Samuel Araya is a professional illustrator. His work has appeared in a variety of media, from videogames, T-shirts, posters, and records, to cards and books, including two editions of the prestigious Spectrum: The… Continue reading Artist Spotlight: Samuel Araya
Continuing with our spotlight on contributors to A Darke Phantastique, we come to J. C. Koch and her story “Outsiders”. The beginning is eerie: I have lived in darkness for so long. The memory of light is still with me. It floats in my mind, tantalizing, so close yet so far away. For longer than I can… Continue reading Author Spotlight: J. C. Koch
“Down the Hatch” is the story offered by our next spotlight, A Darke Phantastique contributor Jonathan Thomas. It starts: The house had no cellar. None in the development did, said the abrasively perky realtor. Back in the ’70s the builders apparently hadn’t considered cellars necessary or modern or worthwhile. Nate was about to bail then and there, till Barbara’s toxic look shut… Continue reading Author Spotlight: Jonathan Thomas
For the next Author Spotlight (featuring contributors to A Darke Phantastique) we are treated to fiction from the nonfiction and critical giant, S. T. Joshi. His short story, “You’ll Reach There in Time”, begins: “Hey, old man,” he said in a faintly foreign accent.“How far is it to the next town?” He held up the empty gas-can… Continue reading Author Spotlight: S. T. Joshi
Furthering our progress through the author spotlights on contributors to A Darke Phantastique, we light on Richard Gavin. His work, “Creaking Earth”, starts with this bit that will draw you in immediately: Five weeks ago I found this diary inside the attic’s dilapidated chimney. The original author’s identity is a mystery to me, as is when she… Continue reading Author Spotlight: Richard Gavin
Picking up where we left off, the next entry in our Author Spotlight series featuring contributors to A Darke Phantastique, we come to the one and only W. H. Pugmire. His entry is a beautiful sonnet. It is short, but sweet, so we can only offer a tease: “Beyond the wooded realm the Seekonk weeps For all… Continue reading Author Spotlight: W. H. Pugmire
Unseaming is the first collection of short stories from author Mike Allen. With a prominent blurb from Thomas Ligotti and introduction by none other than Laird Barron, this book is positioned to hit the mark squarely within the Lovecraftian/True Detective “New Weird” fiction movement, but it may be more at home in the newly-forming nebula of dark magical realism.
What sets this effort apart from the pack is the marvelous ability of Allen to set up place and character without meandering off the story path—while maintaining a style of prose which remains rhythmical, yet never comes across as mandarin.
The themes explored are varied and fascinating. In “The Hiker’s Tale”, Allen takes us on a journey into the Appalachians, exploring the Melungeon background and folklore surrounding a shapeshifting hiker. The very next story, “Stone Flowers”, reads like an old fairytale. It is beautifully written, poetic, and deeply emotional. And such is the entire collection.
Allen plays with form and point-of-view with a mastery that enhances and enchants without being distracting or coming across as arch. The most impressive example of this is “The Quiltmaker” which is made up of sixteen “squares,” a pattern, “the piece trimmed free,” and “the scrap leftover.”
Highly recommended. I read and savored every word.
”Beyond black voids subsumed by blacker fire
We conjure entities from gates of hell;
And knowing all their names impose our will,
Binding those spirits with essential night
To glean the mysteries of eldritch dark
That warp the weave of time and space and earth.”
At Fear’s Altar
By Richard Gavin
$20.00; Trade Paperback, 2012
Richard Gavin is probably the best horror writer in Canada, and his fictions show some Canadian concerns. A theme we can see in the work of Gemma Files, as well as David and Brandon Cronenberg is to take a character in a loving relationship and place them in some form of extreme metamorphosis and watch the interplay between love and horror, the familiar and the unknown. Gavin is a well-known member of the Lovecraftian school—particularly the branch of Ramsey Campbell and Thomas Ligotti. His latest collection, At Fear’s Altar, will serve to further his reputation.
This collection of thirteen tales, most of them excellent, is a welcome addition in the Lovecraftian genre, which sadly often has merely nostalgic rehashing of themes created by the master. Of the thirteen tales, the only weak entry is the opening tale “A Gate of Nerves” which attempts to collect the remaining tales in a meta-narrative, which is not addressed later in the book. However, the strong pieces in the collection are winners. “Chapel in the Reeds” combines the basic Lovecraftian theme of seeing what man was not meant to see and couples it with fears of old age and loss of competence. Gavin completes and extends the Lovecraftian world with his tale “Faint Baying from Afar” which is a follow-up tale to Lovecraft’s “The Hound.” His invocation of the horror and wonder of Satan in “A Pallid Devil, Bearing Cypress” is a wonderful tribute to Han Heinz Ewers, a macabre writer far too often overlooked in the English speaking world (HHE had the odd distinction of being one of the favorite horror writers of H. P. Lovecraft, Aleister Crowley and Adolph Hitler). “King Him” is a tale told by an unreliable narrator, who liv
Recently Hippocampus Press issued two collections by Richard Lupoff, Dreams ISBN 978-1-61498-039-1 and Visions ISBN 978-1-61498-038-4. Lupoff is a model of Science Fiction writing. His work can be ultra-funny, his work can be craftsman-like additions to subgenres of the field, his work can occasionally be among the best examples of the short story form (I… Continue reading Review: ‘Dreams and Visions’