The line between mainstream and Christian fiction gets thinner and thinner. That’s because the quality of writing by identifiably Christian authors gets better and better. There has always been a strong thread of Christian theology running through mainstream fiction, from Flannery O’Connor to Marilynne Robinson. The ironic key to this successful wedding of religion and high art has always been the subtlety of the moral of the story, which must be subordinate to the storyteller’s art. The same principle elevates the novels of Virginia author Billy Coffey (The Devil Walks in Mattingly).
When an author begins a novel with “And then there was the day”—as Kent Haruf begins Our Souls at Night, a brief, final testament completed shortly before his death last November—you know he knows we know what he’s talking about. This is Holt, Colorado.
Steven Millhauser is our patron saint of elsewhere. He is the bard of an Arcadia we long for (but also dread), a sorcerer who can materialize phantoms in our backyards, where they’ve been standing all along, just there, behind the bushes.
In this, the 11th of Christopher Fowler’s superb Peculiar Crimes Unit mysteries, it’s clearer than ever that the real hero of the series is London herself. If you’ve never visited the city, you could ask for no better education—or pressing invitation—than the one you’ll receive by reading the entire series. Fowler not only tells delightfully lurid tales of both famous and well-hidden landmarks, but also provides clear warnings about neighborhoods you should avoid (after all, these are murder mysteries).
Warning to the reader: It is impossible for this review to proceed without a number of spoilers. In case anyone still holds the charming belief (as I do) that the mechanics of plot have a bearing on our enjoyment of a novel, the reviewer feels obliged to perform his task up front. I shall do it The Quick (pardon the pun) way: If you are a fan of literary Gothic—think Susanna Clarke or John Harwood—buy this book. You won’t regret it.
With The Quick, Lauren Owen has created a brilliant literary debut to rival the work of classic Gothic authors like Radcliffe and Brontë.
Our author can’t seem to make up her mind on a fairly important issue: Is she “Mary Rickert” or just plain “M. Rickert”? Under the abbreviated M., she has published a set of haunting short stories considered to be among the very best of fantasy. With The Memory Garden, her first novel, she makes her bid to enter the literary mainstream, enlarging her name and her imaginative landscape in one grand stroke.
A survey of a few recent horror movies (The Conjuring, Insidious 2, etc.) suggests that hauntings OF the children, BY the children and FOR the children are in. And why not? There’s really nothing creepier than a threat coming either from a ghostly child or toward a living child from some post-mortem parental entity. Three books investigate this disturbing psychological terrain, with...
“Fantasy” would be too weak a word to describe Kathryn Davis’s transgressions against realistic storytelling in her seventh novel, Duplex. “Horror” would miss the point of her sustained assaults against any semblance of normal or peaceable life. Neither would “surrealism” do the trick, for her page-by-page devastations of the reader’s expectations...
Turn off the cell phone, shut down the computer and settle down in your comfiest chair. You’re in for the most exciting fantasy debut since Susanna Clarke’s Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell a decade ago. Helene Wecker must be a born writer; there is no other way to account for the quality of her prose, as phenomenal as any of the supernatural wonders she delivers in the glorious ...