cover image Avenging Angela and Other Uncanny Encounters

Avenging Angela and Other Uncanny Encounters

Jonathan Thomas. Hippocampus, $20 trade paper (254p) ISBN 978-1-61498-341-5

The 14 tales in Thomas’s fine sixth collection of weird fiction (after 2017’s Midnight Call and Other Stories), eight of them original to this volume, demonstrate that well-crafted prose goes a long way toward enabling the suspension of disbelief. He’s especially good at creating instant engagement with a tantalizing opening, as shown in “The Shaman’s Smile,” which begins: “In the cozy Neolithic village known millennia later as Skara Brae, on the largest of the Orkney islands off Scotland, every house but one locked from the inside.” The answers to why the village operated that way, and why the occupants of the outlier dwelling aren’t free to leave it, are both chilling and satisfying. Can something different still be done with a character’s obsessive interest in H.P. Lovecraft? Thomas answers in the affirmative in the subtly creepy “A Box from Blackstone.” The unnamed narrator, who lives near the author’s childhood home in Providence, R.I., learns of a receptacle purportedly left in a stone wall by Lovecraft and comes to believe it may contain a wax cylinder of the writer singing, which would be the only recording of Lovecraft’s voice. John Langan fans will want to check out Thomas. (Oct.)