A short-stories collection both fascinating and horrifying through its universe, with an efficient and flowing writing style, and absolutely delicious to read.
I first encountered the M. Amanuensis Sharkchild « The Dark Verse » series (3 independant volumes to this day) while taking a « walk » through american websites about horror litterature. I finally grabbed the third volume entitled « Beyond the Grip of Time » after a Giveaway organised by its author.
My a priori was very positive, as I had already read some extracts and critics. And also because the book itself is very cool to look at.
About the object itself, the book is bind with faux-leather, with a golden artwork imprinted. The edges of the pages are black, giving some hints about the content. It’s a really nice old-fashioned book, far from the insipid and sad standards we know in France for the same price (US $25 vs. €20 for an editor’s format in Europe, with a softcover). Two colored artworks ornate the first and last pages, and another artwork illustrates the title page. Each text is also illustrated by a two-pages artwork. All these illustrations are realized by the talented John Stifter and are really nice, giving a really good look to the whole book. If I wanted to be a bit meticulous, I’d say it lacks only a bookmark to be absolutely perfect. To sum up, everything is really good, and I have to say the work made on the book is really astonishing.
But what about the 26 short-stories that compose the third volume of The Dark Verse? Originally broadcasted through podcasts ont the author’s website, these texts are quite short (about 7-8 pages), and doesn’t deploy a long-term plot. Each text is self-sufficient and is about a different subject. Sharkchild knows how to create an horrific background in a very efficient way and some stories leaves in reader’s mind some unease, angst feelings. Very well written, these stories are as good as the book itself.
Beyond the Grip of Time gather texts which could be linked to dark onirism genre, to the « Cauchemardesque » (« nightmarish »). Each of the horrors it describes could be just here, in front of us, right now, behind this veil that hides the other dimensions. They contain the malevolence of a fundamentally hostile multiverse which predates us while we are unaware of a danger we can’t even understand or comprehend.
If the horror conception as it is exposed in here may be compared in french reader’s mind to some of the Lovecraft’s stories as The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath and every textes linked to the dream-cycle, I tend to compare them to Lord Dunsany’s work, but in a nightmarish version and as talented as it.
This reading is really to discover, and even more because its author is still alive and very friendly. The Dark Verse series is only available in american language to this day.