cover image The Crow: Shattered Lives & Broken Dreams

The Crow: Shattered Lives & Broken Dreams

Jame O'Barr. Del Rey Books, $24 (368pp) ISBN 978-0-345-41711-4

An antihero created in the comics almost 20 years ago, undead vigilante Eric Draven has become a major success in the world of cult character media franchises. Now Kramer (editor of Sandman: Book of Dreams) and Crow creator O'Barr have assembled a substantial anthology of original Crow-spawned stories, poems and artwork, including pieces by some of the most respected names in fantasy and horror. ""Born of personal tragedy, the Crow wraps together two of man's strongest emotions and desires--love and revenge,"" Kramer writes. The best of these stories step beyond formula to show human souls tormented by loss and hate. Ramsey Campbell's ""Twice by Fire"" follows a reborn cop seeking redemption for a crime he committed that destroyed him and his family. Andrew Vachss and Nancy A. Collins stalk their usual terrain, he with a hard-boiled crusader taking on the kiddie-porn business (""The Real Thing""), she with ""Variations on a Theme,"" starring her series character, vampire Sonja Blue. Other standouts include Gene Wolfe's haunting ""The Night Chough,"" in which the crow who guides a man bent on revenge is much more than he seems, and the blackly comic ""Carrion Crows,"" by Jane Yolen and Robert Harris. Last up but definitely not least is John Shirley's spiritually potent ""Wings Burnt Black,"" the collection's deepest, most resonant--and most unexpected--tale, in which the Crow assaults Heaven in search of understanding and vengeance for the death of his beloved. This book is a must for Crow fans but also rich reading for any admirer of literate horror and dark fantasy. (Nov.)