Dark Gods by T.E.D. Klein
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This is a remarkable book, offering four long stories showcasing the talents of an author who is not as well known as he deserves. The linking theme is, I think, the idea of a hidden world existing in parallel with our own - each hidden world may be different, but all are dangerously near. This is of course a rather Lovecraftian notion, but instead of piling on the horror Klein instead offers us good-natured, rather urbane and witty characters who only gradually realise that something has gone awry with the world.
Spoilerish bits follow...
'Black Man With a Horn' is almost a straight Lovecraft tribute, as an elderly man discovers that one of the standard tropes of the famous Mythos seems to be founded on a real - and very nasty - tribal custom.
'Children of the Kingdom' concerns a strange, Fortean account of a subterranean society supposedly lurking in New York's sewers. During a blackout, as society degenerates into chaos, the bizarre 'legend' becomes all-too-believable.
'Nadelman's God' is about a regular guy who, when he was young and foolish, wrote a rather pretentious poem about dark and dangerous gods. Now someone has produced a rock album based on the poem, which is fair enough. If it was just an immature flight of fancy...
'Petey' is the genuinely spooky tale of a group of wealthy urbanites who gather for a house-warming in the country. It turns out that the house was formerly the property of an eccentric who indulged in strange, alchemical practices. And what are those things in the jars?
If you like well-written fantasy that straddles the ground between Ray Bradbury and Stephen King (sort of) you'll like this. It's downright exhilarating to find someone who writes as well as Klein, and sad to note that he writes very little, as editing is almost always a better career option.
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