Friday, December 11, 2020

Nectar of Nightmares

Craig Laurance Gidney
Completed 12/7/2020, Reviewed 12/7/2020
4 stars

I really love Gidney’s writing, even when he delves into weird fantasy, as this novelette does.  It has four chapters, three are stories with their own characters experiencing a strange vision and then tying together in the final chapter.  The first story is about a young girl who dances in a ballet about a swan that is not Swan Lake.  She is so repulsed by the story that she begins to hate ballet.  Then she begins having visions of a Swan Girl.  In the second story, a young woman who gets into a series of bad relationships has a vision of a hairy boy when she takes a swig of a drug-laced drink her girlfriend gives her.  In the third story, a man has nightmares of the church he grew up in.  He decides to research nightmares at a layman’s level.  The final story ties them all together.

This book has haunting images drawn by Orion Zangara that capture the feel of these weird stories.  The novelette stands on its own without the images, but they do complement it very well.

Gidney does like to venture into weird fiction, which I am now more acutely aware of having recently read so much Lovecraft.  His last book, A Spectral Hue, employed art as magic.  This time, it’s visions and nightmares.  I love the title of the book in that it invokes a sense not commonly associated with dreams and nightmares.  It adds a dimension to the weirdness that reflects the sensory feel of Gidney’s prose.  In a few short pages, he’s able to create intense atmospheres and well-developed characters. 

I give this short work four stars out of five.  The novelette is only 37 pages, but in that brief space, I felt like I got novel’s worth of texture and depth.  It’s convinced me to read his more of his work next year. 

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