Thursday, February 17, 2011

Book Review: Degrees of Fear by CJ Henderson

Degrees of Fear by CJ Henderson
Introduction and story introductions by William Jones. Afterword by Joe Mauceri. illustrations by Ben Fogletto.
Dark Regions Press, 266 pages

This is a great collection by an author I had read here and there in various Lovecraftian style anthologies over the years. According to the introduction Henderson has been plugging away for thirty years. Most of these stories are from the last ten years but two are new to this pretty edition. It has a pretty full color cover art and eight neat illustrations throughout. The writing is tight modern Mythos style Lovecfraftian fiction that borrows not just from Lovecraft but second generation mythos writers like Lin Carter.

I was most impressed by two of the shorter stories "Hope" and the title story "Degrees of Fear." Hope is genius tale of hell and damnation that paints an ugly picture in a short word count of how a demon just might torture you in hell. Powerful stuff. The title story to me riffs on Lovecraft style the best without relying on the long dead authors characters or monsters. the story is a neat slight of hand and I thought it closed out the book on a strong note.

My only problem with this book is how many times I saw the name Lovecraft mentioned in the the introductions that come with each story. I don't mind authors playing in the master's sandbox but it gets frustrating for me as reader when it seems like that is the only terrority the author is going in. Cody Goodfellow is a great example of an author who writes excellent mythos stories but also writes very un-lovecraftian stuff as well.

Henderson not only writes about elder gods but also went as far as to write a story about Herbert West(The Lovecraft character who inspired Re-animator). Henderson is a talented writer with a sharp imagination, this book is filled cover to cover with impressive tales. They would be more impressive to me if they didn't all exist in Lovecraft's world. I read in his bio that he has a series of his own creation, I intend to read that.

If you have a focus on Lovecraftian fiction in your collection, or if you are looking for modern Lovecraftian stuff this volume is essential.

No comments: