cover image Slewfoot


Brom. Tor Nightfire, $29.99 (320p) ISBN 978-1-250-62200-6

Artist and author Brom (Lost Gods) turns his darkly fantastic but unfocused vision toward 17th-century Connecticut, bringing ecospirituality and grim vengeance into a familiar colonial gothic milieu without offering much innovation. A mysterious presence awakens in the wilderness beyond Abitha and Edward Williams’s land outside fictional Sutton, Conn., and begins to feed, eventually killing Edward. When the presence emerges from the forest as a man with horns and goat legs and connects Abitha to the magic her late mother used, Abitha ignores Puritan warnings about demons and joins the creature, naming him Samson. Samson and Abitha work together to save her farm and uncover Samson’s true identity, but powerful men and vindictive spirits stand in their way. The first half of Brom’s story plods mirthlessly through establishing obvious conflicts, and the culmination of those conflicts is painfully bleak. The brutal treatment of women accused of witchcraft and the scapegoating of the Pequot people are especially unpleasant and, though perhaps historically accurate, feel gratuitous here. Excitement arrives in the final quarter, but by then many readers will have given up. Brom’s eerie paintings add aesthetic appeal, but all but his most devoted fans can skip this one. [em](Sept.) [/em]