jennaelf's review

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I've been sitting on writing this review for a while, because what I've been trying to mentally do is form my thoughts into a quippy blurb that would really -sell- this collection to people who were looking to the reviews to help them decide. I finally realized though, that while I could probably do so - it is a disservice to the authors in the text and to readers for me to try to spin my opinion. (Reviews are opinions, no matter how well-backed.) It is far better that I just lay out my experience & thoughts plainly.

In short, this is a pretty tasty collection of stories that execute the art of pastiche perfectly. Revolving around, inspired by, progeny from frothy, dark, eldritch literary spawn of Clark Ashton Smith, these stories put out. Which is to say, they deliver exactly what's promised. Overall, each story (and poem - there are a couple) nails the atmospheric feeling of an ol' CAS tale. Details are heavy & rich and doom lingers. This is a great anthology if you're looking for something with that CAS flair.

I really enjoyed ALL off the offerings in this text. Two stood out and even a couple months after reading, I might consider them the best & worst of the collection.

"Daughter of The Elk Goddess" - Probably my favorite. In a way, the story was fairly predictable (after a while of reading, most stories are, aren't they?) - but the execution was so lovely that I couldn't help but love it. I enjoyed reading it the most, no doubt. Though I knew where things were going, I still reacted as though I hadn't. That's a mark of a good story teller.

"In Old Commoriom" - I enjoyed this story for the most part, but there were aspects of it that took away from the overall narrative. In places it seemed to drone, and then the ending tries for something clever and it really broke the build-up for me. In a couple places, the carefully wrought language seemed to slip into more contemporary parlance and that was a bit jarring. Not a bad story by any means, but one that had some "fridge moments" that didn't wait for me to put the story down to interrupt my enjoyment and make me ask "Wait, what?"

That said, even if I considered "In Old Commoriom" one of the weakest stories in the book - it's STILL a 3 star story by itself (1=skip it, 3=decent enough to read, and pretty interesting - not enough to bring down my estimation of the text.

Honorable Mentions: "The Lost Archetype" and "The Door from Earth"

If you're curious about the offerings, here's the ToC (from BlackGate's page):

Nick Mamatas – “Hostage”
Joe Pulver – “To Walk Night…Alone”
Darrell Schweitzer – “In Old Commoriom”
Ann K. Schwader - ”Yhoundeh Fades” (poem)
Cody Goodfellow - ”Coil Of The Ouroboros”
John R. Fultz - ”Daughter Of The Elk Goddess”
Brian R. Sammons - ”The Darkness Below”
Dieter Meier - ”The Conquest Of Rhizopium”
Lisa Morton - ”Zolamin And The Mad God”
Brian Stableford - ”The Lost Archetype”
Ran Cartwright - ”One Last Task For Athammaus”
Don Webb - ”The Beauties Of Polarion”
Robert M. Price - ”The Debt Owed Abhoth”
Marc Laidlaw - ”The Frigid Ilk Of Sarn Kathool”
Charles Schneider - ”The Return Of The Crystal”
John Shirley - ”Rodney LaSalle Has A Job Waiting in Commoriom”
Zak Jarvis - ”The Winter Of Atiradarinsept ”
Jesse Bullington - ”The Door From Earth”
Ann K. Schwader - ”Weird Of The White Sybil” (poem)