Uncommon Places: A Collection of Exquisites

W.H. Pugmire. Hippocampus (www.hippocampuspress.com), $20 (272p) ISBN 978-1-61498-023-0
An aura of dissolution and decay suffuses the 22 stories in this collection of fantastic fiction from Pugmire (The Tangled Muse), the self-billed "Queen of Eldritch Horror." "Inhabitants of Wraithwood," a coda to H.P. Lovecraft's horror classic "Pickman's Model," swirls images from expressionist art together with drug-fueled nightmares to convey a world where "the barrier betwixt art and nature, reality and dream" has been blurred. Lovecraft's influence is notable throughout, particularly in the title work, a lengthy sequence of prose poems that infuses Lovecraftian set pieces with eroticism and morbid romance. There are also tribute tales that evoke the work of Oscar Wilde and Edgar Allan Poe, the latter in "The Host of Haunted Air," a modern reworking of his gothic fever dream "The Masque of the Red Death." Mood, rather than plot, is the main concern of most of these short, poetic pieces. Readers with an appetite for the weird and the decadent will find Pugmire's work a rich confection. (Feb.)
Reviewed on: 06/18/2012
Release date: 02/01/2012
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