I had high hopes coming to this collection. Here is one of the exceptional prose writers that modern horror has to offer, so I was given to believe. Naturally I was very excited but that excitement began to slip away as, story after story, I began to realise this was very different from what I expected.
Joseph Pulver approaches the page as an impressionist painter approaches the canvas, painting words onto the page in broad strokes with lyrical flashes of imagery, subverting the rules of grammar to maximise the effect. His prose style reminds me of Ray Bradbury when he waxed most lyrical, but far more concerned with themes of urban and moral decay. I was also put in mind of Ramsey Campbell in short story form but far less concerned with plot.
Pulver is obviously a widely read and big fan of the genre and one theme that recurs in many of the stories here is the "King in Yellow" (Robert W. Chambers). I was even inspired to pick up The King in Yellow and re-read a few of the stories to freshen my recollection of them so I might better appreciate what Pulver was trying to do with the theme. It reminded me how much I enjoyed those stories and didn't help at all in my appreciation of Pulver's work.
There are a large number of stories, poems and vignettes contained herein, all very short and stylistically varied. Some of them I did quite enjoy but then others, I simply had no idea what it was about from start to finish. Generally, I found it very hard to engage and not an enjoyable experience. I accept that this more a personal reaction and not necessary an indictment of the authors abilities in any object sense.
I've put the book down with a few stories still unread but I just can't face any more right now. I doubt I'll read anything more by the author unless I can be convinced that it is substantially different from what I've read here.