Naked Revenants and Other Fables of Old and New England

Jonathan Thomas. Hippocampus, $20 trade paper (266p) ISBN 978-1-61498-199-2
Unevenness mars Thomas’s fifth collection of short stories and poems (after 2015’s Dreams of Ys and Other Invisible Worlds). Some of the verse selections, such as “Death and a Locket,” in which Death offers to take the life of a man’s loved one and allow the man to live, are effective despite their simplicity. Others, however, have a juvenile flavor, such as “The Dark at the Top of the Stairs” (“The longer it’s waited for someone to care/ The more people say that it’s haunted in there./ But who used to live here and why they moved out/ Are questions we don’t know the first thing about”). The stories are generally solid: a PR troubleshooter for Massachusetts’ Kingsport Community College has a creepy encounter with the caretaker of a museum devoted to the history of the neglected city in “Plenty of Irem”; “Shed a Tear for Asenath” cleverly riffs on Lovecraft’s “The Thing on the Doorstep,” plausibly presenting the diary of that story’s narrator, Edward Derby. Not every tale fits the theme of the title. Thomas offers enough good work in this volume to please genre fans. (June)
Reviewed on: 11/06/2017
Release date: 06/01/2017
Genre: Fiction
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