book reviews by Althea

Dreams of Shreds and Tatters – Amanda Downum ****

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I’m writing this review a little while after actually finishing the book, but I felt I had to get around to actually reading all of Robert W. Chambers’ ‘King in Yellow’ stories before giving this a fair review, since the book is an homage to that mythos.

Having now read both, I’ll say – it’s not really necessary, but it’s certainly fun to compare.

Chambers’ ‘King in Yellow’ posits a work of art – a play – which drives the reader mad, possibly by showing them a glimpse of horrific realities beyond human comprehension. Downum skips the play, and skips right to the horrific realities, which is a bit of a shame (I like the idea) – but the ‘feel’ of the story is spot-on, and in keeping with Chambers’ creations. If he’d been writing in the 21st century, instead of the 19th, this is something like what he might’ve written.

With its depiction of eccentric young characters involved in subcultures & the art scene and caught up by powers beyond their control, I was also reminded of Kathe Koja’s horror novels and Lauren Beukes’ ‘Broken Monsters,’ a bit.

Liz Drake’s best friend Blake moved to Vancouver a while ago, and they haven’t been in touch. But when she is suddenly plagued by vivid and terrible dreams concerning him, she insists on traveling out there to see if he’s OK. Unfortunately, he is most certainly not OK. In Vancouver, Liz and her partner Alex discover a maze of occult ritual and mind-altering drugs… which Liz must navigate, Eurydice-like, to enter strange realms and attempt to save Blake from the alien land of Carcosa and the malevolent clutches of the Yellow King.

Many thanks to Rebellion/Solaris and NetGalley for the opportunity to read this book. As always, my opinion is solely my own.


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