Monday, March 03, 2014

Book Review: The Wide, Carnivorous Sky and Other Monstrous Geographies, by John Langan


This book opens with one of the coolest stories I've read in awhile: the short, brutal, and, honestly, kind of hilarious "Kids." Within just a few paragraphs, Langan had me both howling with queasy laughter and wondering if he was plundering my mind for its deepest fears, and that's very much the way to my heart. (Other than through my chest, natch.)

The Wide, Carnivorous Sky and Other Monstrous Geographies has been on my TBR list ever since it came out last spring. I can only say I wish I'd gotten to it sooner, because this collection is as close to perfect as it gets. There are no bad stories here, not even any "meh" ones. Just a series of really inventive tales, well told.

Of course I had favorites. But I had several. Besides "Kids," which I won't spoil by even hinting at its contents, there was also "Technicolor," a wild (and darkly genius) take on "The Masque of the Red Death," which may have inspired me to re-evaluate Poe. (I secretly find him awfully florid.) There are two new-Lovecraftian tales: "The Shallows," a slice-of-life story about a man and his mutant crab, going about their business in a world where the Old Ones now control reality; and the truly disturbing "City of the Dog," which takes as its inspiration H.P. Lovecraft's underused ghouls (think "Pickman's Model"), and turns Albany into a carnivorously haunted blot on the landscape. Finally, the closing, and longest, tale in the collection is "Mother of Stone," in which a bloody pre-historic rite is accidentally resurrected when a strange statue is unearthed at an otherwise homey Hudson Valley inn. Also, do not miss Langan's end notes (which illuminate several of the stories in unexpected ways), and Laird Barron's hilarious afterword. Final rave goes to Santiago Caruso for the gorgeous cover art. Let's look at it again:

Book cover of The Wide, Carnivorous Sky & other monstruous geographies by John Langan | Santiago Caruso

Bottom line: The Wide, Carnivorous Sky and Other Monstrous Geographies is an excellent collection, and is so very going on my best-of-2013 list . . . just a little late. If you like weird fiction with just a twist of dark humor, do not miss it. 

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