My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Dread is a word you don’t see used much in association with horror fiction any more. And it’s a shame, because used properly, slow building dread can be more horrific than any gore or bloodletting.
Fortunately, there are writers who understand this, and one of the best examples can be found in THE CEREMONIES, which starts slow, gets slower, but accumulates dread along the way like a wool suit collecting cat hairs. And it’s a marvel of timing, precision and skill, with its cast of great characters all circling around the central motifs, each of them catching glimpses of the whole but none completely understanding what they are being shown, or why.
It’s also a remarkably timeless book. It was written before laptops, before cellphones and email, but by setting it mostly in a remote rural farmscape, it feels older still, and its throwbacks to genre giants like Lovecraft and Machen in particular seem to root it even farther back in time again.
The slow build, taking care and attention to let us get to know, if not like, the main characters, gives their respective fates at the climax emotional resonance, and a depth thats often lacking in fiction in the field.
The writing itself is rich and lyrical, the handling of viewpoint and control of pacing is expertly done, and the book is one of the wonders of modern weird fiction.
It’s a shame Klein hasn’t produced more over the years, but kudos to PS Publishing for the fine new paperback edition I read this in, which is a lovely piece of packaging for a book that deserves to be showcased.
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