Hermitage of Fear

savage menace tierneyIt being the month in which we nationally celebrate verse, I happily present Savage Menace and Other Poems of Horror by Richard L. Tierney. This delightful hardcover collection was first published in 2010 by the esteemed P’rea Press of Australia.

There is a delectable diversity of horrors to be found in the pages of this wonderful volume. Whether it be the folksy opener “Autumn Chill”, the Tolkein-inspired “Khazad-dûm”, the creepily Lovecraftian “Kingsport”, the Robert E. Howard homage “The Doom of Hyboria”, the two moody translations of Charles Baudelaire, or the hilarious Joseph A. West pastiche “Turn on the Heat”, we time and again encounter carefully-wrought and thought-provoking verse. Some of the most effective pieces, in my opinion, are the “King in Yellow” contributions, such as “Tatters of the King” and “The Passing of Cassilda”, as well as the longest poem in the collection, “Visions of Golconda”, which is absolutely stunning in its execution.

As S. T. Joshi so aptly points out in his illuminating introduction: “There is not a word out of place, not a line that is other than musical, not a stanza that cannot be considered a triumph of quiet eloquence.” Truer words could not be spoken, for in Richard L. Tierney we encounter a venerable sage borne of Literature.

The book itself is beautifully produced, featuring many excellent interior illustrations, and is unique in numerous other ways, best exemplified perhaps by the “welcome” we receive on its opening page: “Through gates of unparalleled dream, P’rea Press bids you a thousand welcomes…”

I highly recommend a visit to P’rea Press, which is owned and operated by Charles Lovecraft. There are many poetical enticements worthy of one’s attention, not the least of which is a Richard L. Tierney bibliographical checklist penned by Mr. Lovecraft himself, as well as a volume paying homage to Clark Ashton Smith and George Sterling.

In additional to this excellent collection, I also recommend Mr. Tierney’s Collected Works: Nightmares and Visions, which was published in 1981 by Arkham House. Both it and the present volume belong on the shelves of anyone who holds weird fantasy and horror dear to their still-beating hearts.

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“Surface” Redux

Scratching the SurfaceMore often than not, upon encountering an author who intrigues me, my first impulse is to hit the internet in search of their corpus. And, almost invariably, I encounter that certain book which has either slipped into obscurity or is available but at a cost well beyond my means.

Such was the case with Michael Kelly’s first collection, Scratching the Surface, which was originally published in 2007. Having recently read the author’s 2009 collection, Undertow and Other Laments, I quickly began pining after the first.

Thankfully, Mr. Kelly has answered the call, having recently republished the book under the auspices his own imprint, Undertow Publications. It contains twenty stories, all of which hold magic enough to linger in the mind long after they have been consumed.

The title story alone is worthy of the purchase of this book. It concerns a man known only as “Silva” and the young boy who first befriends and then learns his strange craft. The name Charles Beaumont (of Twilight Zone fame) is brought up in an illuminating introduction by John Pelan, and I must say that the tale is as wonderfully conceived as any by that past master.

Some of the other standouts include: “Thin Red Wire,” an excellent dystopian tale which brings to mind the work of Richard Paul Russo; “Warm Wet Circles”, which had the obsessive oddness of Michael McDowell’s Toplin; “Sea of Ash and Sorrow”, a beautifully horrific post-9/11 tale reminiscent of Ray Bradbury’s “The Lake”.

And while I could continue down the line through all twenty tales, I shall end by encouraging any and all who love carefully crafted works of horror to pick up a copy, for all the tales are brilliant in their own way.

Do visit Mr. Kelly’s website for ordering details, as well as information pertaining to his esteemed journal, Shadows & Tall Trees.