Three novels tell of love and horror beyond the grave, cruel and unusual punishment for a child abuser, and a dead man forced to choose between equally terrifying alternatives
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I think the best way to cut the Gordian knot of "What makes a better length for horror -- short story or novel?" is to say, "Neither: The novella is best." These tales are each about 80-90 pages -- long enough to develop character but short enough to sustain mood and a tight structure. All three are good, but the standout is Ray Garton's Dr. Krusadian's Method, which takes an unflinchingly radical approach -- including actually fixing the problem -- to the theme of child abuse. Dana Anderson's novella is about an endless surreal party amidst demons and angels, and Charles de Lint's is about longing for love across the veil of death.From Kirkus Reviews:
``Three original novels of horror and the fantastic'' claims the publisher in its catalogue and galley copy. Well, not quite. It turns out that these are novellas, not novels; and, more importantly, the longest work here--Garton's ``Dr. Krusadian's Method''--appeared in his Methods of Madness collection (1990). Moreover, the quality here is, at best, just a cut above 1950's pulp--and that's in the last and shortest novella. Readers must first slog through Anderson's lumpy title story, in which a man buys a haunted nightclub, learns that the souls therein are coveted by Lucifer, and does bloody battle with His minions, winning with the same principle that allowed the Little Engine to go up the hill. As short-story writer Anderson's longest published work, this bodes poorly; Garton, whose ``Dr. Krusadian's Method'' comes next, can at least fall back on having written one of the wittiest of splatterpunk novels, Live Girls (1987 paperback). Here, in a yarn about an occult cure for child abuse, the splatter is in full force, if not the wit. More appealing is de Lint's ``Death Leaves an Echo,'' in which this prolific mass-market fantasist (Jack the Giant Killer, 1990, etc.) spins a catchy premise--a man wakes up to find every trace of his wife gone from the world--and embroiders it inventively. The revelatory climax lacks the drama of the premise and is preceded by some gratuitously graphic sex, but, overall de Lint spools out a smooth and satisfying yarn. Skip the Anderson, rip out the Garton, you're left with one decent novella--for $18.95? -- Copyright ©1991, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.
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Book Description Tor Books, 1991. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. Never used!. Bookseller Inventory # P110312851804