Sunday, January 19, 2014

Laughing Boy's Shadow - by Steven Savile - Like nothing I've read before

5 of 5 Stars    Review copy

In the introduction to Laughing Boy's Shadow, writer Gary A. Braunbeck says, "The best horror fiction concerns itself with exploring the connections between violence, grief, loneliness, and suffering, and how we as a species reconcile these things with a concept of a Just universe watched over by a supposedly loving Supreme Being wherein even the most mundane and trivial of our everyday tasks carry some kind of greater meaning."

The above is as good a definition of horror as I've ever heard and this early work by Steven Savile certainly fits the bill. Declan Shea is a piano player, the kind that plays in bars, and is on his way home from a gig at 3am when he strikes a tramp by the side of the road and wraps his car around a lamppost.  At least that's the way he remembers it.  And so begins a downward spiral into a nightmare world where Declan loses everything and becomes a pawn in a battle for the very life of the city of Newcastle, England.

After losing his eyes, Declan is promised his sight back, but to do this he must take eyes from two dogs in the underground world where he finds himself.  Savile is a skilled writer and adept at making the reader squirm.  "' Forgive me' I whispered into its ear, bringing the knife to bear. I was by no means deft.  The knifeblade sliced into the soft flesh of the dog's jowls before it hooked up and cut out the sac beneath the eye.  The dog stiffened beneath my hands, letting loose a yelping whine that was utterly sickening.  I held back, unable to push the knife further and finish my theft.  The thought of digging through the strings of muscle attaching the eye to cut the nerve and sever those ties turned my stomach.  I couldn't do it."

Laughing Boy's Shadow is like nothing I've ever read.  At times beautiful and at times brutal it never fails to keep the reader totally engaged in an imaginative story that kept its secrets right to the end.

Laughing Boy's Shadow is not a new story, but it is certainly worth a read and is available as an ebook from Crossroad Press and Macabre Ink Digital at

Highly recommended.

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