SELECT * FROM uv_BookReviewRollup WHERE recordnum = 939 Ancient Exhumations +2, by Stanley C. Sargent Book Review |

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Ancient Exhumations +2, by Stanley C. Sargent
Genre: Horror Anthology
Publisher: Elder Signs Press
Published: 2004
Review Posted: 9/28/2006
Reviewer Rating:
Reader Rating: 10 out of 10

Ancient Exhumations +2, by Stanley C. Sargent

Book Review by Jeff Edwards

Have you read this book?

In Ancient Exhumations +2, Stanley C. Sargent follows in the footsteps of H.P. Lovecraft, and the results should please even hard-core Mythos fans. The anthology opens with "The Rattle of Her Smile," in which a journalist searches for a missing artist "whose bizarrely evil sculptures were rumored to be inspired by the supernatural." Readers are treated to familiar sets like torch-lit sepulchers, props such as "the fabled Necronomicon," and a legendary monster: the Aztec goddess Coatlicue.

A translator works his way through an ancient manuscript in "Dark Demonize," and after summoning a demon on a whim, the man seals his fate by conjuring another creature to banish the first. Here, Sargent proves that he's not afraid to splatter the gore: "She gripped [his] head...and began to push it back and forth across the floor, using the bleeding stump to reconfigure details of the sigils."

Sargent often writes about Madland County, Ohio, a fictional place riddled with monsters lying in wait for the unwary: Hunters discover a creature's lair in "The Hoppwood Tenant," and an unearthly beast is snared long enough to breed misery in "The Tale of Toad Loop." Each story is worth reading if only for the enjoyment of a folksy narrative style that Lovecraft never managed: "The critter put pictures and noise in the shaman's head to show him its home on a dark world located way the hell out from the sun."

Although prevalent, monsters and demons aren't responsible for every grisly death in the anthology: Sometimes, enough evil has seeped into the ground to do the job. In "Famine Wood," three friends venture into a patch of forest surrounded by a cloud of superstition, but not all of them make it out alive. Sargent's descriptions of the landscape (a "shadowy, sinister" place where the tree trunks are "twisted and deformed" and the boggy ground is covered with "dead, rotting leaves") complement the sense of dread within the tale.

Throughout the collection, Sargent demonstrates his absolute understanding of Lovecraft's dark message: that we are not alone in the vast universe, and that despite our achievements, we are merely "fodder for the feasting of worms." "When the Stars Are Ripe" and "The Paladin of Worms" paint a bleak picture of our impotence against forces that may strike at any moment: "What chance can man possibly have when millions upon millions of invulnerable behemoths simultaneously emerge from the depths everywhere across the globe?"

Perhaps more chilling is the notion that mankind is its own greatest enemy - an idea that Sargent tackles in "Self-Correcting Mechanism" and "The Black Massif." Both stories suggest that man is caught up in a vicious cycle that can't be stopped: "We insist on repeating the same unforgivable mistakes...mindlessly destroying anything and everything around us, including the very environment that makes life possible."

Within Ancient Exhumations +2, an artist fears that he is wasting "his talent and effort in creating 'relics' which, after momentarily exciting a few critics...ended up [as] dust gatherers in some collection." Now that Elder Signs Press has released a revised and expanded edition of this anthology, Stanley C. Sargent's stories should gain new life with a wider audience, instead of ending up as "relics" on dusty bookshelves.
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Comments on Ancient Exhumations +2, by Stanley C. Sargent
Posted by Stanley C. Sargent on 1/11/2015
Glad you like the book so much. I hope to have my second collection, THE TAINT OF LOVECRAFT back in print in 2015. My work has also appeared in many anthologies and magazines. My (imperfect) website is located at My email is listed there too.