Thursday, October 20, 2016

Book Review: The Warren by Brian Evenson

The Warren by Brian Evenson

Paperback, 96 pages

Published September 20th 2016 by

This book will always be special to me and the San Diego horror community since this short 92 page novella was sold ten days before its official release from TOR books at Horrible Imaginings Film fest. 2016 was the first time HIFF included literature programming and when Anthony Trevino and I approached the event we wanted our first key note literature speaker to be Brian Evenson. Not only did we get the joy of seeing him read his short story “Invisible Box” at a live campfire style read but we got a chance to buy this book before the rest of the world.

The Warren is loosely connected to his last Science Fiction book released by TOR – Immobility. That book was one of my top reads of the year it was released and I listed it on my top 5 apocalypse novels list as well. Immobility took place after the end of the world in a scorched earth Utah and this novella may or may not be in that world it is hard to tell. Evenson told me in conversation that he wanted to write this because themes he started to explore in immobility still interested him. Might not be a strong connection but hell it is reason enough for me to tell to read both.

In the grand traditional of weird surrealist Science Fiction and horror The Warren is a mind bender with more weird moments packed into it’s 92 pages than some novels four times it’s length. It is a philosophical look at the question of what it means to be human. OK look I aware every Science Fiction writer has explored this theme, you may be thinking what can a writer in 2016 bring to the question. Well first off it is the deepest and darkest question in our hearts and fuck you very much there is a lot questioning left to be done. Evenson has a voice unlike anyone else and he brings a dark edge that cuts deep in part because his words are so beautifully composed. I would add that dark edge is something you would never see coming from a man so jovial in person. A curse all friendly dark fiction authors deal with.

The story of The Warren is about a character named X who lives underground and knows very little about his world. He is thinking about exploring the outside world but finds a surprise when he tries to open the airlock and hit the surface. The monitor is his only companion, basically a computer, who is our only connection to anything resembling company.

X has many different aspects to his personality and not all of them exactly function. To say he is a unreliable narrator is a understatement. That said Evenson is as reliable a storyteller as there is. While this story is written with incredible poetic prose and style the story is not lost in the mix. Read it to the end and you will feel paid off for all the creepy build-up. The Warren is tiny book but damn is it powerful and worth every penny, an absolute masterpiece. Will be on my top ten reads of the year no doubt.

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