Guignol & Other Sardonic Tales

Orrin Grey. Word Horde, $15.99 trade paper (240p) ISBN 978-1-939905-42-0
In this career-spanning collection, Grey (Painted Monsters and Other Strange Beasts) assembles 14 peculiar tales of horror into a veritable smorgasbord of horrific thrills and chills. Though some titles fail to launch (“Dream House”) or verge on opaque to an audience uninitiated in lesser-known aspects of the occult and classic horror (“The Well and the Wheel” and “Invaders of Gla’aki”), others are immersive and well scripted if not especially bone-chilling (“The Lesser Keys” and “Haruspicate or Scry”), and the best offer truly memorable frights (“Guignol,” “Shadders,” and “The Cult of Headless Men”). Grey has a clear penchant for intricately wrought set pieces featuring detailed backgrounds that are occasionally described at the expense of the story’s plot. Nevertheless, the dynamic prose and eye-catching worldbuilding are redeeming where his storytelling fails to satisfy. This collection is a must-read for hardcore fans of horror, though casual readers may be left puzzled by more obscure references and unexplained allusions. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 07/16/2018
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