Sunday, October 10, 2021

The Fisherman

The FishermanThe Fisherman by John Langan
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

When Abe's wife dies of cancer, he finds solace in fishing. Soon, he's joined by Dan, another widower. Together, the two men head for Dutchman's Creek. But why are locals afraid to talk about the creek and who or what is The Fisherman?

I've had this on my kindle for untold aeons but I finally found time to read it over the past few days. I wish I would have read it years ago because it is fantastic.

The framing sequence, Abe's tale, is written in a long winded, folksy kind of style. Abe relates his life and what drew him to fishing in the first place. It wasn't super interesting but had enough tantalizing tidbits to make me hang on for what I suspected was to come.

Most of The Fisherman is the story of what befell Dutchman's creek, as told to Abe and Dan by one of the locals. It's a great piece of horror/weird/dark fiction, reminding me of Lovecraft and his contemporaries or modern authors like Laird Barron: Sinister men of magic, fish-like things, cyclopean beasts, and worlds separated from ours by uncomfortably thin boundaries.

Once the story of Rainier and company started picking up steam, I had a feeling how things would tie back into the main tale and I was right. I read a great big chunk of the book while waiting for a tire to be repaired and I couldn't understand how everyone could be sitting around chitchatting while serious shit was going down.

The ending, while a little long-winded for my taste, put a nice capstone on everything. There's really nothing I can think of to complain about with The Fisherman. It's one of those books that felt like it was written with my tastes in mind. I hate to hand out too many five star reviews but it is what it is.

The Fisherman was a fantastic book I wish I'd read years earlier. Five out of five stars.

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Tuesday, October 5, 2021

Cold Moon Over Babylon

Cold Moon Over BabylonCold Moon Over Babylon by Michael McDowell
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

After their parents die, Jerry and Margaret Larkin grow up with their grandma Evelyn Larkin on the Larkin blueberry farm. When tragedy strikes, can Jerry and Evelyn unearth the culprit and bring him to justice?

I've been a Michael McDowell fan since reading Blackwater a few years ago. I bought this some time in the dim past and finally had time to focus on it.

This is some great shit, not to put too fine a point on it. Michael McDowell's southern horror tales do not disappoint and this is no exception. The Larkins have tragedy written all over them after the first chapter, when the parents are killed by finding a sack of rattlesnakes in the river. Fast forward to a dying blueberry farm, late mortgage payments, and a maniac in a gimp mask brutally killing someone and it's one hard book to put down.

I'm going to dance around the particulars of the plot. McDowell captures that edgy, "what was that noise outside" feeling of creeping dread very well. There are some huge surprises and the horror is a slow burn to a satisfying climax. I don't usually bug my wife with details about what I'm reading but she heard all about this one.

Cold Moon Over Babylon did not surpass Blackwater but is easily my #2 Michael McDowell book. Five out of five stars.

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