When I first saw this cover for some reason it reminded me of Slayer’s album Seasons in the Abyss. Not directly but something about the palette. There is however a story in this anthology about an artist that really does put me in mind of that album cover. Needless to say I was drawn in before I’d even opened the book.
I really enjoyed all of the stories in this anthology and the way that despite being very different they are intrinsically linked. Mr Smith skirts on the very edge of what I find readable in this book. The way he writes about a sadistic sexual torturer and his evolution to something darkly spiritual is harrowing and more than a little disturbing without becoming torture porn.
For me the there is one story in this collection that really resonates. The first story in this book really set the scene. The author’s voice comes through clearly and kept me engaged throughout. The main character suffers from Agoraphobia. The way the story is written puts the reader right inside that condition. The tension reading this story was palpable. This is one of those rare stories that can induce a physical reaction from the reader.
This book was worth every penny and I fully intend to read more by John Claude Smith.