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The Slithering & Others, by Tim Curran Book Review | SFReader.com
The Slithering & Others, by Tim Curran Genre: Horror Anthology Publisher: Rainfall Books Published: 2007 Review Posted: 7/30/2008 Reviewer Rating:
Reader Rating: 10 out of 10
The Slithering & Others, by Tim Curran
Book Review by Jeff Edwards
Have you read this book?
Like H.P. Lovecraft, Tim Curran understands that there is something worse than seeing an unnameable horror: being seen by that same abomination. This theme binds together the three stories in Curran's chapbook, The Slithering & Others.
Curran admits that "the dark and the weird" have always fascinated him and that horror is in his blood; he considers Lovecraft to be his greatest influence and urges fledgling writers to read authors from the past such as M.R. James and Arthur Machen. Is it any wonder, then, that in his own work Curran often revisits familiar territory, fostering a pervasive atmosphere of both nostalgia and dread simultaneously? The book's title story, for instance, is set on the moor - that windswept, desolate wasteland that genre fiction fans have explored before in tales like Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's "The Hound of the Baskervilles" and Lovecraft's "The Hound." Curran chose the setting deliberately; he uses "moor" as a kind of literary shorthand to inspire fear: "Shadows...began to creep up from hollows and steaming mires. The wind called out in a mournful dirge...It sounded like the shrill voices of entombed souls." We're biting our fingernails because we expect a monster to be loose in such a place, and we're not disappointed.
Next, we're dragged kicking and screaming into the pitch-black catacombs of horror with "Eaters of Worms," a tour de force akin to Lovecraft's "The Lurking Fear." Curran's words masterfully conjure up the grotesque and the decayed: "Have you ever seen the carcass of a dog infested by hundreds of squirming maggots? Seen them crawling and worming and feasting, three inches deep on the carrion below?" In the tale, the central section of a burial ground collapses, revealing a network of ancient tunnels - and three men foolish enough to venture into those antediluvian passages will be delivered to the very brink of madness...if they survive. The narrator's most sickening realization is that he's not so different from the degenerate things he discovers in their subterranean lair.
The book closes with "The Eyes of Howard Curlix," a modern-day companion piece to Lovecraft's "From Beyond." In Curran's story, a physicist creates a visual wormhole between our world and another dimension - a realm of obscenities amid "the ruins of some impossible cyclopean city": "All those high, distorted buildings, leaning and falling and refusing to fall...It was a cemetery...and those structures were crypts and tombstones." The title character shudders at the wraiths he sees "slithering out of the holes...of that alien graveyard" - and when the creatures see him, the situation grows even more hazardous.
The Slithering & Others is a rare find: a short collection of macabre tales that readers will come back to again and again. Knowing that timeless story ideas - like past sins - won't lie still in their graves, Tim Curran continues to mine new terror from old haunts: His recent novel, "Dead Sea," is a tribute to the work of William Hope Hodgson.
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