The Beautiful Thing That Awaits Us All by Laird Barron, review

barronThe Beautiful Thing That Awaits Us All by Laird Barron
Publisher: Night Shade Books (September 3, 2013)
ISBN-13: 978-1597804677

Laird Barron is well-established now as one of the premier horror writers working today. He’s recognised as leading the new breed of cosmic horror writers, taking his cues from Lovecraft’s mythos, but Barron’s work stands very well on its own. He’s almost developing his own mythos and this third collection is further cementing that position.

Each story in this latest collection is connected to one degree or another, but each stands alone well. There’s room in Barron’s stories – space to breathe and feel the world we’re in while reading. Not all of the stories worked for me. One or two were even too roomy and slow. One yarn in particular, the last story, was far too self-indulgent for my taste. That story, More Dark, is a tale of drunken horror writers going to see a reading by the new big thing in horror and the associated surrealism of the man’s ability. It would have worked, perhaps, if it didn’t try to be so clever. The self-reference was one thing, but the supporting cast was drawn from writers and editors real writers and editors in the field would know. Characters like horror editor Ellen D and fantasy magazine editor GVG. As a writer, I found it trite and I wonder if readers not in on the joke would feel lost. Of course, that also raises the question of who beyond the writers and editors of short horror fiction actually read it? But that story was the only real low point for me. The high points are very high and more than make up for it.

The Redfield Girls, for example, is an excellent character-driven story and a truly subtle horror. You can feel how cold the lake is while reading. The Carrion Gods in Their Heaven is a brilliant piece of work and not quite like anything I’ve read before. By far the best story in the collection for me was The Men from Porlock, a fantastic effort in terms of historical accuracy and colloquial realism while being a perfect example of Barron taking old Mythos ideas and making them totally his own. The book is worth it for this story alone, but there are plenty of others worth your time.

Barron is a writer you need to read if you’re a fan of horror and this book is highly recommended.


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This entry was posted in Book Reviews, Collection, Short story by Alan Baxter. Bookmark the permalink.

About Alan Baxter

Alan Baxter is a British-Australian author who writes dark fantasy, horror and sci-fi, rides a motorcycle and loves his dog. He also teaches Kung Fu. He is the author of the dark urban fantasy trilogy, Bound, Obsidian and Abduction (The Alex Caine Series) published by HarperVoyager Australia, and the dark urban fantasy duology, RealmShift and MageSign (The Balance 1 and 2) from Gryphonwood Press. He co-authored the short horror novel, Dark Rite, with David Wood. Alan also writes short fiction with more than 50 stories published in a variety of journals and anthologies in Australia, the US, the UK and France. His short fiction has appeared in Fantasy & Science Fiction (forthcoming), Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Daily Science Fiction, Postscripts, and Midnight Echo, among many others, and more than twenty anthologies, including the Year’s Best Australian Fantasy & Horror (2010 and 2012). Alan also writes narrative arcs and dialogue for videogames and wrote the popular writer’s resource, Write The Fight Right, a short ebook about writing convincing fight scenes. He has twice been a finalist in the Ditmar Awards.

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