Monday, February 10, 2014

Review: THE IMAGO SEQUENCE (Night Shade Books)

In a word, WOW.

I have read Mr Barron's work on many occasions in various anthologies and enjoyed each piece so much, I decided it was time to explore the man's writing more thoroughly.  The Imago Sequence, published in 2007, is Barron's first collection.


As I've said before, I am no expert in the field of "weird" fiction, but I do know when I've read a book that is special, and one that I am going to keep with me long after the spine is cracked and the pages are yellow.  The Imago Sequence is such a book.

What Barron does with this collection is slowly envelop his readers with an increasing sense of dread and horror, each tale like taking step after creeping step into the dark woods of the Pacific Northwest that feature in so many of his stories.  Barron is an expert wordsmith; his writing is unearthly and he dips his pen in noir, psychological and cosmic horror, and the weird.  The stories here are chilling and disturbing, and the horror here goes far beyond mere slasher and gore.  These stories stay with you, embedded in your memory for a good, long while.  My favorites:

"Old Virginia" opens the collection and also sets the tone for the entire set.  A government experiment has gone horribly awry and humankind are pawns in a game way beyond its ken...

"Procession Of The Black Sloth" is an atmospheric stand out in the collection.  It is a creepy, Chinese phantasia complete with ghosts and witchcraft...

"Bulldozer" is a type of Weird West story, with a Pinkerton detective hot on the trail of a mysterious serial killer...

"Hallucigenia"  is another story with Barron's signature brand of cosmic horror; the imagery here is surreal and unsettling.  Probably my favorite piece in the collection.

"The Imago Sequence" brings the collection to a close, and involves a series of photographs that are surrounded by mystery and the occult...

As a dark fantasy/horror collection, The Imago Sequence is amazing, truly one of the best such collections I've read in a long time.  With each story I finished, I was reminded of how excited I was reading Clive Barker's Book Of Blood for the first time.  Barron is showing here the same flashes of brilliance and is firmly establishing his own mythos with these tales.  As a collection of weird fiction, it is for me a great introduction of what heights the genre can reach, going beyond pastiche and into modern day classics.  If it isn't already, this volume needs to be on your bookshelves.

Happy reading!

1 comment:

  1. "I do know when I've read a book that is special, and one that I am going to keep with me long after the spine is cracked and the pages are yellow." This is such an amazing review. And just speaking for myself, I may not be uber-educated, but I do know when a book touches me and it sounds like The Imago Sequence has touched you. I am definitely going to check this out.