Sunday, July 11, 2010
Lesser Demons, (Subterranean Press), by Norman Partridge
There are many words that be can be used to describe "Lesser Demons", most of which have already been used in recent reviews. To be succinct, here's two: Masterful and Effortless. Partridge's control of his narrative never wavers. He exhibits firm control of every story, but sacrifices neither suspense nor unpredictability.
Also, though most everyone understands that the writing process itself takes great, painstaking effort - which Partridge clearly has taken - these stories read with an effortless ebb and flow. For discerning readers this is of great importance, in an age when so many writers produce "stock and store" stories that require more effort to read than perhaps their creation required. Picking the "best" stories in a collection this fine may be a fruitless task, however...
"Second Chance", a story about a con-man seeking revenge, only to be beaten to it by someone closer to him than he can possibly imagine; "Lesser Demons", a delightful contemporary spin on the classic Lovecraftian trope of summoning the unspeakable from the ether; "Carrion", a tale about a boarded up old house out in the desert, a house brimming with a dark evil from a twisted world that infects the soul of all who encounter it; "The Fourth Stair Up From the Second Landing", a tale sporting a rich narrative about a woman and son who can never escape the shadow of the father...until the son takes final, permanent action; "Road Dogs", a werewolf tale with a decidedly American flavor; "The House Inside", a story that resonates with a delightful Bradbury-esque strangeness in a world where the sun has flamed out of control, killing all humans and bringing to life OTHER things and finally "The Iron Dead", an introduction to a monster killer with a hand forged in hell, a classic, hard-bitten character that hopefully will stand on his own soon in a longer, separate work.
Like Bradbury's "The October Country", "Lesser Demons" features stories of a wide and diverse nature, and Partridge himself displays a unique sense of lyricism. Also, for a collection of "dark fiction", Partridge still manages to infuse several of his tales with hope and a sense of resolution, if not happy endings, which is hard to find in horror and noir fiction, something that makes enduring the darkness worthwhile.
Visit www.normanpartridge.com and americanfrankenstein.blogspot.com. Buy it today.