A wonderful, wonderful fellow writer was the first person to introduce me to Laird Barron. That weekend, I lost myself in his strange world, both horrified and fascinated by the mythos he’d created.
The Children of Old Leech succeeds in paying homage to Barron in all of the best ways. I had to read this book in small sips, delaying gratification so that I didn’t squander any of the pleasure. The worlds built in each story vary but that makes them no less terrifying. So many of the stories are incredibly told, but I’ve focused on only a few of my favorites.
“The Harrow” by Gemma Files takes us under the earth, into a place of darkness, a place of old holes filled with things we can never understand. Perhaps one of my favorite stories of this collection.
Orrin Grey’s “Walpurgisnacht” took us inside the shimmering line between that which is seen and that which isn’t and peers closely into the occult world that is just behind that veil. Loved it.
“Good Lord, Show Me The Way” by Molly Tanzer was one of those stories I simply did not want to end. In fact, at its conclusion, I stepped away from the book for a few days because I wanted to stay in that place she had built, the Church of the Broken Circle. Another one to number among my favorites.
T.E. Grau’s cosmic horror in “Love Songs from the Hydrogen Jukebox” was a tripping balls kind of experience that isn’t often replicated in the written word. One of the more specific connections to Old Leech. Fantastic.
It took me a minute to get into the non-tagged dialogue of Richard Gavin’s “The Old Pageant,” but when I did, this story blew me away. The inscription on Donna’s footboard had me shivering from the outset, but that ending. Wow.
Paul Tremblay consistently knocks it out of the water, and his Notes for “The Barn in the Wild” is no exception. Everything here coalesces, rises together to form a perfectly tight story.
Michael Griffin’s “Firedancing” was yet another story that bathed us in cosmic horror. Everything in the center of the earth opened and laid bare.
Daniel Mills’ “The Woman in the Wood” left me shivering. It’s a difficult thing to pull of period dialect in a subtle manner, and Mills hit the nail on the head. Not to mention some truly terrifying imagery. Rushed off to buy his collection immediately after reading this story.
I’d previously read “Brushdogs” in Stephen Graham Jones’ After the People Lights Have Gone Off. I loved it then, and I love it now. Jones may be one of the most talented writers I’ve read lately.
Overall, the collection is stellar. A few stories weren’t exactly my cup of tea, but this is due to personal taste not lack of talent. A worthy representation.