Plot: Against his good judgement, senior archivist Kyle Murchison Booth helps an old friend to decipher a necromantic text. Not only does the situation end badly but now all the ghosts, ghouls and monsters in the area seem drawn to Booth. This interconnected series of horror stories records Booth’s many and varied encounters with the supernatural.
Inspired by the work of H.P. Lovecraft and M.R. James, Monette has crafted a series macabre mystery tales with the same mastery of words and psychology shown in her longer works. Each of the stories is eerie and disturbing in its own way. In particular, her Elegy for a Demon Lover made me want to crawl into my closet, roll into a ball and rock back and forth for a couple of hours. But what I found most chilling was that though Booth can elucidate the mysteries, he is often powerless to effect the evil he discovers in the world. There are no easy endings in Monette’s stories, no happy resolutions. The fear she created in me wasn’t the shock of gore or surprise but the slow, oppressive terror of a twisted world… not so different from our own.
Where Monette surpasses Lovecraft and James is in her characters. Booth is a fascinating hero, as intelligent and erudite as he is troubled and socially awkward. His past, which is revealed piece by piece over the course of the stories, is one of such pain and loneliness that it is as horrific as the monsters he encounters. I’d give him a hug if it wouldn’t make him so uncomfortable. The librarian in me also loved that he was an archivist and appreciated his love of books.
I’m told that we can expect more Booth stories in the future (in fact, I believe there is one Booth story in Monette’s most recent collection, Somewhere Beneath Those Waves). I, for one, can’t wait.
Challenges: GLBT Challenge (16)