This book collects stories previously published in various magazines within the last ten years. Coming highly praised by those who have read it, I wanted to try some more modern horror, hoping for something above and beyond the generic horror thrillers so common these days. I was not disappointed.
Many of the stories are set in Washington state (apparently where the author now resides) and a few landmarks and places crop up in more than one story, thereby going about developing a folklore and mythology for his locale in a similar way in which Lovecraft did for Providence.
The comparisons with lovecraft will not end there, with many of his stories feature investigators looking into some mysterious circumstances and ending up finding out more than is good for their lives and sanity. As with Lovecraft, the universe is a hostile place with terrifying beings poised to wake up and bring in a new age of nightmare and obliteration. The insignificance of man and what we think we know about the universe is brought home to those who inadvertantly get too curious.
But Barron is far more than a Lovecraft impersonator. His protagonists are more gritty characters. He does not shy away from the more visceral side of things when he feels it suits the story but when he does, it is not overdone.
Barron is not up to the standards of Ligotti or Aickman who's command of prose to create a sense of unease easily oustrips Barron's capabilities but in Barron's most effective stories he successfully creates a real sense of horror in his own and unique way. The best examples of this are in my opinion: "Old Virginia", "The Procession of the Black Sloth" and "Hallucigenia". Others, including the title story, were not quite so well done.
A good body of work so far though and I will definitely look with interest at what Barron produces in the future.