Read for Cast Macabre by R.E. Chambliss
With Additional Voices by Abigail Hilton and Bob Eccles
Story Review (Audio Review Below)
This horror tale of the homicidal madness of a grieving mother is the sequel to Ankor Sabat, reviewed here last year. I saw a lot of promise in Ankor Sabat, but ultimately had to downgrade it a few points despite enjoying it. So of course, this review is heavily in comparison to the prior story. Another Clark Ashton Smith/Lovecraft pastiche. More action heavy this time, and I think a bit more overwritten. The first story's writing was delightful but two instances in this story particularly take me out of it:
"The nightmares brought with them images of a cyclopean black castle or fortress, flung up against blacker mountains and glimpsed always beneath a boiling glacial sky. The castle's jagged tiers piled atop one another, terrace upon terrace, battlement upon battlement, until its highest spires and minarets clutched at the very heavens themselves."
"Then, a hemorrhage of shadows split over the throne. The shadows waxed in depth until, slowly, surely, they took on a positive quality. The bells went silent, the figures abased themselves upon their bellies, the shadows congealed. There, sprawling upon the throne, a titan of carrion flesh, a colossus of rotten planets, a gargoyle of the death of stars, Ceocetep, the High Priest."
Also: the animal people have mechanized guns left over from a "Golden Age" which I take to mean these stories take place after our civilization has faded away and lower technology humans have been building up society again, but this time with the Elder Gods and magical beasts remaining in the forefront rather than fading into the underbelly of the world as they did in our age. I really like this idea, and it does add a neat extra layer to what would otherwise be pure fantasy. I, for one, welcome guns and trains in my horror/fantasy.
3 out of 5
Audio Recording Review
The thing that most surprised me, and initially put me off before I began to like it, is that this is almost an audio play. Not just a reading, there are different actors for different voices in the dialog, and an actual musical score, not just background dithering, but rising and falling music to coincide with the action of the story. The reason this bothered me at first is it is almost distracting. I like audio plays, but Rink's prose is dense, and prone more to the exposition through narration rather than through dialogue. The music and shifting voices provide some distraction from the actual text. That said, all the voice actors are very talented, they do a good job, and the music seems appropriate. You get used to it, and after a second listen, I think it is better this way, just surprising at first.