Jewels in the Dust

Peter Crowther. Subterranean (www.subterraneanpress.com), $45 (256p) ISBN 978-1-59606-492-8
Crowther (Forever Twilight) unearths intelligence and compassion in the crawlspaces of the human heart with these atmospheric and emotionally intensive excursions between reality and fantasy. In 13 stories, all previously published between 1996 and 2006, troubled characters chase internal stirrings to shadowlands where the supernatural mirrors fear and desire. A vagrant’s peculiar obsession with the little people opens a door of belief into jaded adolescence in “The Fairy Trap.” A widower receives postcards from her late husband in “Thoughtful Breaths,” a heart-wrenching challenge to mortality that suggests the emotional catharsis of fantasy. Secret roads to lost pasts are as near as “The Doorway in Stephenson’s Store,” and a mob enforcer with a conscience discovers a remarkable talent in “Tomorrow Eyes.” Sinister carnival folk threaten innocence in “Breathing in Faces,” a chilling paraphrase of Something Wicked This Way Comes. Crowther carries his own obsessions and unique style into Bradbury’s undiscovered country but never stoops to simple homage. Versatility of theme and palpable mood breathe life in these modern myths of transformation and revelation. Genre staples (time travel, ghosts, fairies) are anchored in—and enlivened by—scenes of everyday people struggling to live and love and dream. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 06/03/2013
Release date: 09/01/2013
Genre: Fiction
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