Last three I read over the last . . . ten, twelve days? Something like that.
I know, I know: how have I ever called myself a horror writer without having this one on my mental bookshelf? No excuse. It’s good, too. Most interesting, maybe, is the way Bloch starts so many of the chapters by kind of peeling up the last one, and then going through what went on over here in the story while that other chapter was happening. The effect, of course, it’s that we kind of a see the thing developing from a lot of angles, and come out feeling we know it pretty well. I don’t think I’d ever do it, or recommend someone do it, as it always feels like padding, like the writer’s nervous there’s not actually enough story here, so’s making sure to document every single footstep. But it works here. Also? I was able to pair this up with seeing on the big screen, in 35mm, which was about the coolest thing ever.
How not to love the novel that puts one of my most cherished and dear songs up on a pedestal, and makes it key to the drama? But I won’t say what it is, just that it comes to suffuse the whole story. No, that’s the wrong word. It’s a pulsing red line of magma tendriling up between the whole story. Were I blurbing it, here’s what I’d say: You’ll have ash on your fingertips by the last sooty page. Ash on your fingertips, an ember smoldering in your chest, and a spark in your eye. It’s how we’ll find you through the smoke. And, I know I already mentioned one song, but those of us raised on George Strait, this title, it definitely puts us in mind of another one. Oh, and, so cool: where NOS4A2 had that Wraith, The Fireman also has a pretty cherry ride. So, there’s a cool vehicle, and great tunes. Get yourself to a retailer.
Everybody knows Richard Kadrey for his Sandman Slim series. As they well should. What he brought to urban fantasy, it reinvigorated the genre, made it more gritty, less safe, and left it just a generally more sardonic place to hang out. All of which is great. This one, though, man. First, it looks to be the launch of a brand new series/franchise. Kadrey’s got a hero here who’s built to cross many books, I mean, and he’s surrounded by a cast who are ready for that ride. Second, of everybody on the shelves these days, Kadrey’s the only one who can maybe stand up alongside Joe Lansdale, in the description department: “They were tossed around not so much like bowling balls, but like Barbie dolls in a cement mixer.” Not talking just the sheer inventiveness, but the fineness of language, too—the way “balls” and “dolls” kind of rhyme, and make the sentence hang together rhythmically. And, really? I’ve got so much of this book marked out. Just, lines I want to return to, to savor. Kadrey brings it. Hopefully he keeps bringing it for a good long while. I’m here for this series, and very ready for the next installment.