cover image The Beautiful Thing That Awaits Us All

The Beautiful Thing That Awaits Us All

Laird Barron. Night Shade (, $26.99 (288p) ISBN 978-1-59780-467-7

Most of the masterfully told Lovecraftian weird tales in this collection were originally published as standalone pieces, but the seven very different core stories that take place near Olympia, Wash., have reappearing features—howling winds, an altar in the woods, nightmares that dance between dread premonitions and glimpses into the abyss—that work together to form a persistent image of cosmic horror and evil. The two stories outside the Olympia cycle are much weaker: the solipsistic, egomaniacally insane fugue of “Vastation” creates confusion rather than shivers, and “More Dark” is an obscure tribute to author Thomas Ligotti and horror fan conventions. Barron (The Croning) employs well-spoken and introspective narrators, torn between bravery and fear and between disbelief and terrified realization, and his richly evoked settings carry the reader relentlessly along without an irrelevant word or image, with an effect that manages a certain sort of grace within raw brutality. Agent: Brendan Deneen, FinePrint Literary Management. (Apr.)