Friday, 22 June 2012

Dark Gods

Dark GodsDark 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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Rich Garfinkel said...

Re The Children of the Kingdom:I live in the Bronx , as I did in the swummer of 1977 and I'll never forget the morning after. The Grand Concourse is the main drag in the Bronx (supposedly based on the Champs Elysee ) and every store on it was ripped open and emptied. It was a frightening thing to see and it sent the Bronx into a downward spiral that it is only now recovering from.Maybe I have overemphasized the class struggle in my missives,but this was a terrifying example that I experienced up close and personal. Regards, Rich Garfinkel

James Everington said...

Oh I love this book! I don't think I've ever knowingly come across anyone else who's read it. I found it in a charity shop for 50p a few years ago - all the stories are at least very good, and Children is superb. (There did seem to be a faint echo of some of Lovecraft's more unsavoury views, but that may have been me, or a deliberate irony by Klein)

I've read his Events At Porloth Farm too, which is equally brilliant, but not the novel I believe that short story grew into. As you say, a howling shame he hasn't written more, and that what he has is out of print.

valdemar said...

Rich, I think it's the first time an American has directly used the term 'class struggle' to me. James, I don't think Klein is echoing Lovecraft's racism as such, just expressing a despair a lot of people probably felt at the time. I agree about the novel The Ceremonies. It's very well written, and has wonderful episodes and characters, but wasn't quite the Next Big Thing people claimed.