If I were limited to one word in which to describe Richard Gavin’s new collection of tales, that word would quite simply be: rich. Rich in symbol, rich in characterization, rich in imagination, rich in utter uniqueness of plot, and last but not least, rich in its use of language, which is very fine indeed. From its first tale, “Chapel in the Reeds”, to its concluding novella, “The Eldritch Faith”, we are immersed in some of the finest weird tales the field has to offer, which run the gamut from traditional to Lovecraftian, but always told in Mr. Gavin’s inimitable voice.
The book is dedicated to Clive Barker and to the memory of Algernon Blackwood. While the latter is not so surprising (since Mr. Gavin’s tales are as carefully-wrought as any of that past master’s), the former struck me as odd, but in the most pleasing and nostalgic way. Barker was a scribe who I near worshipped back in the beginning, back when I was starting to understand the power of good writing. And in Mr. Gavin we find this in spades. It’s not often that a collection this consistently good comes along. Don’t hesitate to obtain a copy, what with its lovely Harry O. Morris cover, and its overwhelming richness….
At Fear’s Altar is available through Hippocampus Press.
As a side note, Mr. Gavin has also been doing a series of highly enjoyable essays on Horror, which can be found at The Teeming Brain.