cover image Five Degrees of Latitude

Five Degrees of Latitude

Michael Reynier. Tartarus, $50 (280p) ISBN 978-1-905784-37-0

An evocative, antiquarian style of storytelling distinguishes the five novellas that make up Reynier's collection of fantastic fiction. "Le Loup-Garou" explores the dark side of human nature in its account of an apparent werewolf prowling the French countryside. In "No. 3 Hobbes Lane," an architect who offends the nature spirits of the land where he's building suffers supernatural consequences. "Sika Tarn" is an eerie tale of a haunted forest's unsettling effect on two unwitting hikers passing through it, and "The Visions of Lazaro" is a splice of fantasy and science fiction in which a mystic's visions suggest extraterrestrial encounters. The length of the stories and their leisurely pacing give Reynier considerable time to build mood and atmosphere, which usually crescendo in horror, except in "The Rumour Mill," a clever jeux d'esprit about a professor of behavioral sciences who applies the concept underlying a children's game to a real-life political situation with disastrous results. Readers who like weird tales with a vintage feel will find this volume an auspicious debut. (Oct.)