At Fear's Altar

Richard Gavin, Author
Richard Gavin. Hippocampus (www.hippocampuspress.com), $20 trade paper (256p) ISBN 978-1-61498-026-1
Reviewed on: 01/28/2013
Release date: 10/01/2012
Open Ebook - 978-1-61498-076-6
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Literate horror fans who have yet to encounter Canadian author Gavin (Charnel Wine) are in for a treat in this collection of 13 stories that evoke familiar genre themes in creative ways. The lyrical prose is often at a higher level than usual presentations of otherworldly demons and malevolent forces (fireworks are "tadpoles of sulphurous light squiggling down and dissolving just above the black lake water"). Gavin has a knack for original plotlines, as shown in "Only Enuma Elish," in which a man who has always preferred to keep "my fellow species" at arm's length, does a good deed, offering to mow a neighbor's lawn, only to learn that the elderly woman believes herself to be Tiamat, the goddess of chaos. And in "The Plain," the author easily creates a feeling of cosmic dread in an old west setting. Lovecraftians will appreciate such tales as "The Abject," in which the eponymous Abject "fanned its limitless wings, hiding the cloud sky behind a veil of black plumage and dangling tufts of rot," and "The Unbound," which explains the origin of "witch-cursed Arkham." (Nov.)
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