Tuesday, December 11, 2012
Book Review: The Croning
Don’t bothering looking up the definition for “croning” in the dictionary, it doesn’t exist. This is a word, or a concept, whatever, made up by horror author Laird Barron. I got turned on to Barron earlier this year after seeing his name continue to pop up in anthologies. I could not forget his works and I definitely could not forget a cool ass name like Laird. I may have seen him featured in a magazine or it may have been I first read him in an anthology I reviewed called Haunted Legends, regardless, I have been seeking him out since then.
His book, The Croning, is brand-spankin’ new and let me tell you I could not wait for it to hit the library self, I bought it on the spot. He has one previously published novel and two short story anthologies, one of which I have read, called Occultation. Honestly, stories from that collection come back into my memory time and time again. His style is that of the weird, the mythological, and often, the ancient.
Fuck, I’m rambling. Let me tell you about this book. To be honest, it starts off with a tale we all know, a certain Grimm tale about a tricky little dwarf with a tongue twister of a name. But we don’t dwell there; we are introduced to Don Miller, a geologist and an all around nice guy. Pretty easy-going, unless you talk shit on his wife, Michelle. The cunning and mysterious half of the marriage. Sure, Don knows he got lucky by scoring her as a wife, but he really starts to doubt the marriage when strangers start making Michelle out to be something strange, dark, powerful, and dangerous. How much does Don really know, and how much does he want to know?
Barron’s book is cosmic horror, but let’s not go comparing him to H.P. Lovecraft right off the bat. Okay, that’s not really what I meant, what I mean is that when I heard the words ‘cthulu’, and ‘mythos’, I kind of cringe. Harsh, I know, but I feel like that shit is so overdone! But what do I know? Either way, I think Barron makes cosmic horror cool again.
His voice is easy-going and casual, as if the narrator is a dear, foul-mouthed friend. But this, according to supernatural horror master M.R. James, is the only way to write a good horror story. If the dialogue isn’t natural, you won’t fall into comfort with the story and in the end you just won’t get scared. But believe me, Laird will getcha scared!
If you haven’t read any Laird Barron, here’s a story to start with. It is also available in audio, which is the way I enjoyed it, and it was awesome. http://nightmare-magazine.com/fiction/frontier-death-song/