cover image The Fisherman

The Fisherman

John Langan. Word Horde, $16.99 trade paper (282p) ISBN 978-1-939905-21-5

Shifting between past and present, Langan (House of Windows) builds terrifying scenes, but this fish tale ultimately gets bogged down in a story within a story set in the wilds of upstate New York. Coworkers Dan and Abe have both lost their wives, and Abe has found comfort in fishing. He eventually asks Dan to go with him, beginning a tentative friendship. When Dan suggests they head to Dutchman’s Creek one day, they’re warned off by a man named Howard who spins a tale of terror that Abe and Dan find unlikely at best. At first, Abe (who narrates) and Dan seem to be the book’s focus, yet the tale that Howard tells takes up the most pages. Although the mythology is genuinely creepy, it suffers from meandering prose and overshadows the equally intriguing friendship between the two men. A deliciously dark conclusion only partially redeems this waterlogged effort. Agent: Ginger Clark, Curtis Brown, Ltd. (July)