Tuesday, February 23, 2010

City of the Dog

Novelette by John Langan

An underemployed college graduate moves to Albany in order to be with his girlfriend Kaitlyn who has cheated on him with his new roommate Chris. They have the sort of shitty relationship where they don't seem to like each other much, and would both be better off if they broke up, but stay together anyway. Albany isn't portrayed as a particularly cheerful, uplifting place either.

One night, on the way to a club, our sadsack narrator is attacked by a very creepy dog with strange eyes. Next thing he knows Kaitlyn is gone, and not returning his calls. At first he thinks it's just a passive-aggressive breakup, but he and Chris eventually decide she has been abducted by a man with the same bizarre eyes as the dog. Although they hate each other, they team up to save her. I won't give away the ending, but if you read the first paragraph you'll know better than to expect happily-ever-after.

An atmospheric horror story with my favorite flavor of supernatural element and a truly creepy ending. The mythology behind the story doesn't seem that original, but as neither we nor the protagonist have much of a clue it's impossible to judge, and largely irrelevant. On the subject of irrelevant commentary, I've been paying a lot of attention to the use of sex in horror lately: a lot of times it seems like a distraction but in this story the sexual implications towards the end make for a much more disturbing experience.

The best horror I've read this month, Lovecraft included, 4.5 out of 5.

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