Friday, 8 July 2016

Review - The Lure Of Devouring Light by Mike Griffin

As a reviewer I have a process that I adhere to when I'm reviewing a book. After I finish a whatever I'm reading I tend to put it down for a week or two, and let it stew in the back of a mind. I never leap straight into reviewing anything.

That's what I've always operated. 

Until now.

When I put The Lure of Devouring Light down I was compelled to immediately grab a piece of paper and write down some notes. The first like I wrote was this: 

A tour de force. 

The second line I wrote was just as articulate:

Holy shit!!!

I spent the next hour or so scribbling down little points, before I realised that the sun had set and I was supposed to cook dinner. After deciding to resume my usual modes operandi (and avoid getting in trouble by neglecting my domestic duties), I then spent the next fortnight thinking about The Lure of Devouring Light. I came to the following conclusion. 

The Lure of Devouring Light is masterful, and Griffin is a writer of the highest skill and ability who will change genre fiction in the years to come. 

I loved so many things about this collection that I don't even know where to begin. I could rave about the uniqueness of Griffin's ideas (for example, a cellist that eats souls or a man whose dreams becoming manifestations in reality), or I could wax lyrical about his ability to explore and examine themes such as transformation within his stories. I could also write pages and pages on how wonderfully poetic and descriptive each tale is, and how Griffin is a wordsmith of the highest order. All of this is true, and all of it supports my earlier assertion TLoDL is a masterful collection. What takes this book to the next level, however, is Griffin's skill in drawing you into his stories and making you an active participant. Scenes and moods are painted with an expert hand, and you are left to fill in the gaps with your minds eye via the author's use of suggestion. This method not only breaks with the usual run of the mill gore fest that is splatterpunk, but it also has the added benefit of personalising and increasing the impact of each story. Griffin essentially hands you the brush, and lets you take part. 

Another strength of this collection is Griffin's ability to write realistic and fascinating characters. I adored the process of getting to know each of them, even if I did find it incredibly unnerving just how much of myself I saw in them and their actions. Griffin knows exactly what makes up the human condition, and he uses that knowledge to its full extent when exploring his characters transformations (or attempts to transform) in settings that are, at best, unreliable. This is especially true with the novella 'The Black Vein Runs Deep', where the two protagonists, and their relationship, are dissected with a razor as their journey of exploration becomes a fight for survival. 

And those settings! From abandoned gold mines through to off the grid cabins, Griffin explores these seemingly normal locations with a creeping sense of dread that left me with goosebumps at times. And as those settings became unstable, the unforgiving darkness that lingered in the background of every story became more and more prominent and more and more terrifying ('Diamond Dust' is a great example of this).

I really am at a loss to find anything to criticise in this book. Every story stands on its own two feet, and the pacing is superbly balanced and composed as the stories unfold. To put it simply, I loved it.

The Lure of Devouring Light is an amazing collection. It is haunting, evocative, and intelligent in every way, shape, and form. Michael Griffin has achieved something truly stunning with this book that will continue to resonate with me in years to come.

Quiet horror told with the loudest of voices, this collection is a must read for anyone with even a remote interest in genre fiction.

5 out of 5 stars.

The Lure of Devouring Light is available online at all good book retailers. You can our more information by checking out Mike's site, or by scooting over to Word Horde. They publish some other amazing works as well. 

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