Edited by Aaron French
Asmodeus (Stephen Graham Jones)
Marchosias (Michelle Belanger)
Ephippas (Whitley Strieber)
Ronove (Ronald Malfi)
Amdusias (Philip Fracassi)
Hanar (Jonathan Maberry)
Ornias (Richard Chizmar)
Buer (Scott Sigler)
Agaras (Rs Belcher)
Abyzou (J.D. Horn)
Caim (Seanan McGuire)
Belial (Michael Griffin)
When I real-time review this book during 2018, my comments will appear in the thought stream below…
THE FLOOR OF THE BASEMENT IS THE ROOF OF HELL
by STEPHEN GRAHAM JONES
“: inserting massive hydraulic jacks under the house, lifting it as few inches as possible—there were waterlines to be aware of—and fitting pylons underneath, to take some of the strain of the house’s weight off the foundation.”
The ultimate hawling story, with a basement that needs un-subsidal, a woman and her demon lover as mo de us me him pe do his her hus band. Christening rooms with screws and then stepping on golden nails. Grit and Slit. Even the reader gets involved. Concrete bunking for the new survivalism. The fish in the restaurant, though. Is it a tench?
My previous reviews of this author: https://dflewisreviews.wordpress.com/tag/stephen-graham-jones/
by MICHELLE BELANGER
“The demon summoned by her virtual self waited, patient and strange as tectonic drift.”
A truly compelling, skilfully written, well-characterised story of a couple who both spend most of their lives playing RPGs on-line with various out-fits of ERP and OOC. I keep the acronyms intact to obviate spoilers. Or intruders.
“I am called Marchosias, lady, and I am at your service now and for however long you may wish.”
(I personally recall with fondness several of my incarnations within the zines published/edited by this very author during the 1990s.)
Cross-referenced the previous two story reviews above here: https://dflewisreviews.wordpress.com/2017/08/05/the-three-rhysian-tartari-of-the-nineties/#comment-11458
AN ANGEL PASSES
by WHITLEY STRIEBER
“…that most people will believe a lie over the truth every time, and the more cockamamie the lie, the stronger their will to believe.”
This cockamamie of a story, included.
Real estate in California lambasted, plus adopted pre-pub girl demonisable but a demon herself, ranch properties bewinded or bewound by mobs or cabals, or even by rats, an up and down of ranch values geared to couples with feisty backstories and swiving and conning of pros, sexual foursomes, and nuns toking. From Rosa (Brewster or Castilla) to sliced Roma – to nORMA? A backstory backed-up or blocked like in a shithole, or loving to fondle “lady grass”. Grabbing pussy?
“eating their brisket and drinking their pinot” or “drinking bourbon and spinning poetry.”
THE WRAITH OF SUNSHINE HOUSE
by RONALD MALFI
“I see that her hands are up, that her fingers—those gnarled, bony talons—piston almost hypnotically in the air, striving to dispatch some coded S.O.S. through the ether.”
To match Strieber’s ‘misfiring piston’….
This “fearmongering”, this perception of Sunshine House’s head “hauling around dead rodents in her mouth.” But this old people’s home – of which I, as a visitor, have had much personal experience in various forms – is beautifully real, a tension between what a particular resident’s point-of-view perceives as truth or dementia and stoicism or manic paranoia. So utterly poignant, creepy, too, with straightforwardly as well as evocatively described scenes of this story’s demon’s tension between imagined or dreamt haunting and actually walking Sunshine’s corridors, with its own perceived tensions-between as a resurrector of living skills and a killer of bodies, bodies both human and buggish or pettish. Other tensions-between, too, like a character’s eventual fear of self-fearmongering and a real authorial fearmongering of us as a shared, thus perhaps transcended, horror that we all face.
by PHILIP FRACASSI
“, running through fields of impossible green.”
Esther grows up in the still constant shadow of her loving mother’s death and of her once loving father’s now incrementally piecemeal attitudes towards her, his daughter’s, changing body…. This work — as I have, in my own piecemeal way, grown to expect from my recent reading of this author — is monumentally powerful, with Esther’s approchement to a unicorn statue that she digs from the ground, it then becoming an unforgettable transformation into a real demon in her room she calls Hobbes. The demon seems associated to music, indeed to the raging harmonies that I have personally loved all my life, those works of contemporary classical music that some people deem to be Satanic noise, but for me is something far else. To me it’s inspiring music. This story’s own symphony arcs towards a coda, where I wonder who fights whom and what or who wins in the apocalyptic human problem facing Esther and her ability to transcend those whose pattern is both to assist her and to confront her … a pattern that I think tellingly echoes and confronts, in equal measure, alongside the coda here and in another work by this author entitled ‘Shiloh’… A suddenly revelatory way of solving the conundrum of the type of music I love. “But not symphonic, not whole.” Yet, a gestalt, for me.
My previous reviews of this author: https://dflewisreviews.wordpress.com/tag/philip-fracassi/
(Just ordered ‘Sacculina’)
THE RED LIBRARY A Lizzie Corbett Story
by JONATHAN MABERRY
“She told absolutely no one about it, though. Not the molelike Hans, her partner in their little department. Not her on-again-off-again boyfriend, or her on-again-off-again girlfriend.”
Plot-driven, retrocausally countdowned chapters of a novella that seem to me to explain why DAESH is an acronym and that this whole book will eventually reveal what each letter stands for. Meanwhile, the eponymous heroine, not exactly Indiana Jones or Lara Croft, but sort of, and I did rôle-play her game, gave her the benefit of the well-characterised doubt.
“She’d been sexually harassed—she was a woman on planet Earth after all—but never in a way that made her want to take a self-defense class or buy a handgun.”
She does not believe in magic, or angels and demons – but she does study the relevant tracts, academically seeks out the relevant evidence for them, and who knows, mingles with them unbeknownst. She’s got an OCD on Codes…
“What are you saying? What does magic have to do with saving books from ISIL and the Taliban?”
Knights Templar treasure, sewers, anciently enscripted modern bricks, a Sikh sidekick, rats, 58 steps, and more.
“The recording and evaluation of all of that was done in a moment. Half a moment. Locked into her nearly eidetic memory.”
Eidetic, indeed, And adventurous. Action-packed. And the whole things zips by. I love hawling books, getting inside them. And Maberry’s part of this book has so far helped me to get further into the whole book, enticing me in….
“I love being inside my book. There are worlds upon worlds upon worlds in there.”
If I told you anything else, it would spoil it.
by RICHARD CHIZMAR
“All nineteen were born between January 19 and February 18, falling under the eleventh astrological sign of Aquarius.”
Today, as I write this, is January 19, the start the Month of the Great Well of Invisible Spots to be Rubbed Out. Only demonic ornery oldsters like me know that. Meanwhile, this is the sort of story I have chosen to sort of interrogate me in my reading-cell as its latest Lector, questioned as to my serial reviewing murders of serial killer stories. However, this story kept me enthralled but I do not know who grabbed whose hand first! Shakespeare’s Green-Eyed Monster or the one whom it eventually strangled. As for me, I was thankfully born yesterday. And Mischief is beyond me.
Just cross-referenced this story here: https://dflewisreviews.wordpress.com/2018/01/03/cry-your-way-home-damien-angelica-walters/#comment-11491
HUNTER HUNTERSON AND THE PRESIDENT OF HELL
by SCOTT SIGLER
This has a style of narration that I personally can’t get on with. I should not critique it as I did not get very far into it. My fault.
THE OLD MAN DOWN THE ROAD
by R.S. BELCHER
“The symbol was the cleanest part of the pickup.”
At the end of the day, between either a Wheel of a Zeno’s Paradox of halving halves eternally or a ComeToAHalt Hell in Agra Aska, I wonder which God or god lives inside us or controls us from the outside, who is the belcher who belches out the octahedron soul or the Sunny soul, and who is the old man down the road — either the scabrous old man (who helps Sunny find the old man she wants to kill for spoiling her life) or the latter parenthesised scabrous old man himself? Whatever the case, this is a compelling story you may never forget, with its highly clever outcome which ties it altogether, one of stay or keep going round, one of kill or join. Very well characterised people and places, too, and pungently languaged, all laced with a vividly fantastical lucid-dream and today’s crucible of fire and fury in a demonic soul, plus empathisable rebels and revenges.
“Shit leaks over.”
CLASS OF ‘72
by J.D. HORN
“‘By the X,’ Miss Carreau guided him.”
A honestly, unashamedly sinister story of parasitic symbiosis, but who symbioses whom and for what reason? A school scenario and headmistress you will never shake off, I am confident, as two sisters, delivered by their parents, on the girls’ first day at the school, their induction watched by the reader who tries to glance away but fails. A food chain that overlaps…
Perfectly preserved paths through the snowy surroundings towards some sunny upland? Or towards something far more insidious? Not a Swiftian satire so much as a celebrity-sapping reality one cannot ignore. (Hung by the toes, too, in a personal observation by myself, as I remember the two schools and their teachers of Agra Aska that now seem to fuse into a truly frightening gestalt of a school by demonic dint of this single Horn one.)
BY PROMISE PREORDAINED
by SEANAN McGUIRE
“Barbara stood at the head of their circle with her toes almost brushing the Seal of Solomon, the Book held protectively close to her chest.”
“She leaned onto her toes to kiss Ian on the cheek.”
And between those two sets of toes, the main body of the story resides tellingly. A group demon pact with Caim, Caim who then, as a result of the ritual, resides in Molly as Cait and eventually as cancerous Cait (pointing to the interesting consideration that demonic possession is not the equal of completely countervailing that bodily person who is thus possessed). But it was perhaps not a pact so much as a sort of double-bluff Tontine, here called in the text a Lottery, but later the participants – silly students some of whom thought the pact’s ritual ‘rôle’ rather than ‘real’ – do turn that Lottery into a much later debriefing meeting over Lattes. A way to exploit and consolidate the material life-advantages that the demonic ritual had given them and now to release themselves from the Lottery or Tontine. But none of we readers could predict, in hindsight, the story’s devastatinng climax … although the text earlier did let slip: “and I have no desire to be saddled with a human’s get.”
A compact, a well-written fable.
My previous review of this author: https://dflewisreviews.wordpress.com/2017/03/24/black-feathers-edited-by-ellen-datlow/#comment-9434
DALIA OF BELIAL
by MICHAEL GRIFFIN
“Mortality. The ultimate failure of personal power.”
Dalia, if not this book’s earlier Daesh (acronyms or gestalt names, it little matters) owns here a divinatory shopfront, herself bloodied within that shop to the extent of your own hurting with her, hurt, as it happened, by rogue custom, and yet her ‘divinatory’ side once had “a taste of divinity” to hawl her virginal youth towards her yearning future. Here, today, the return of her eponymous self is one healing her fell wounds and satisfying her sexual lust in a single gestalt of reunion. At one moment, that supreme moment itself and, at another moment, a whole lifetime. This story is a mightily strong apotheosis to end this book. With a sense that you are now fully implicated, demonised and used and/or healed yourself. Dare you face that fact by the act of what you thought was otherwise just an enjoyable reading of fiction? Too late. I dare not spoil that fell usage by warning you of it, which in a sense is also too late. As the demonic Tontine is already set in play.
“Tinges of pleasure emerge, broaden and become more complex, blending with other sensations that must certainly be remnants of pain, but in no way resembling the agony that troubled her just minutes earlier.”
“She trails off, noticing his ankle boots, red suede with fine gold stitching around the toe and up the instep.“
“What would you prefer to think me? Angel, demon or god?”
I am all three, a gestalt book reviewer, too, within an on-going ‘real-time’ that cannot now be gainsaid.
My many previous reviews of this author: https://dflewisreviews.wordpress.com/tag/michael-griffin/
I shall now read for the first time the generous amounts of text in this powerful book outside of the discrete stories of so-called fiction that I have already read and reported upon above. Those texts will no doubt give me added food for thought, within a naturally foregone gestalt. No escaping now.