Sunday, October 25, 2009

"Magick & Misery", (Black Bedsheet Books) by Lincoln Crisler

Crisler's new collection of dark fiction offers well crafted tales that are enjoyable enough to read in their own right. His talent with the mechanical craft of prose is undeniable, and his stories wield a distinctive, uncompromising edge. To enter Lincoln's world is not to tread lightly, because very often that “bad thing” you fear so much waits just around the corner, hungry and lurking.

Among the strongest stories: “Old Stooping Lugh”, a story of Irish gangsters, betrayal...and old, monstrous legends that refuse to die; “The Gambler”, a melancholic nod to old grifters passing on from this world to the next; “Redemption”, an darkly ironic tale about a horrible future in which you can get a “return” on the investment of marriage; “Pete Does What Needs to Be Done”, a twist on teenage rebellion and hard choices, and easily the best tale in the collection, “The Seven O'Clock Man”, a chilling take on boogie-man stories everywhere, co-written with author Allex Spires.

One thing that must be acknowledged is that Crisler is a writer yet to hit his prime. His handle on the mechanical craft is sound; none of these stories are badly written, and are well worth the read. He reads like a writer still searching for his voice, however, and occasionally his tales reach for twist endings that don't quite land. His latest collection, however, is fun, at times chilling, and well worth it. Time spent in Crisler's dark world is not time wasted.

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