cover image The Wide Carnivorous Sky

The Wide Carnivorous Sky

John Langan. Hippocampus (, $20 trade paper (322p) ISBN 978-1-61498-054-4

The themes of Langan's powerful second collection of weird fiction (after Mr. Gaunt and Other Uneasy Tales) divide evenly between monsters and metafictions. The suspenseful title tale chronicles the desperate efforts of several army veterans to destroy a vampiric entity that decimated their platoon in Fallujah. "City of the Dog" evokes Lovecraftian horrors in its account of a modern ghoul-master and his terrifying minions. In "Mother of Stone," a cursed statue is a conduit for horrors from the primitive past. Several of the book's more ingenious stories deliver their scares in the course of exploring how horror stories achieve their dramatic effect, notably "Technicolor," presented as an academic lecture on Poe's fiction that ultimately draws the classroom into its final nightmare, and "The Revel," an effective werewolf tale crafted from a critical dissection of the clich%C3%A9s of werewolf fiction. Most of the eight stories are of novella length, which gives Langan room to build atmosphere and take their plots in unexpected directions. Fans of highly original modern horror fiction will find this volume a must-read. (May)