So, first up this bright Tuesday morning is a new review of Simon Kurt Unsworth’s Rough Music – this one was written by Walt Hicks and can be found on his Hellbound Times blog. Walt has been a consistent supporter of Spectral Press ever since it opened its doors – so what did he think of the first issue in the imprint’s second year? Find out here.
(Psst – Happy Birthday to Mr. Unsworth, too!!)
Secondly, here’s a review of Paul Finch’s King Death, which appeared in Issue Eight (Winter 2011) of Strange Aeons magazine. I reproduce it here in full with the permission of the magazine:
“In the early 1300’s, rumors of a terrible plague began to spread throughout Europe. Entire regions of China and India had fallen, and it seemed death itself was drifting westward. Rumor became reality in 1307 when a Genoese ship pulled into the port of Messina with a dead and dying crew. The Black Plague had arrived, and by 1350 an estimated 50-70% of England’s population had perished.
In Spectral Press’ fourth offering, Paul Finch transports us back to this slightly exaggerated time where the mortality rate more closely resembles that of Captain Tripps than the actual Plague. It is a world no longer in the thralls of death, but a world which has gasped its last pitiful breath, and lies rotting under an unremorseful sun.
Rodric, a former member of the free-companies, has seen his fair share of destruction. Clad in a suit of black mail with a skull emblazoned upon his helmet and shield, he rides through the silent, fetid countryside (on a pale horse no less) ridding corpses of their riches and the few survivors he encounters of their lives. He is a man without honor or remorse. Hardened by war and having grown increasingly numb to the horrors that surround him, he sets out upon his diabolical crusade with little sympathy.
One day, while Rodric reflects upon his incongruous kingdom, he spies a well-bedecked page-boy, half alive and stumbling through the valley below him. Greed spurs him into action, and after his alter-ego cows the boy into a terrified silence, he presents himself as Death, King Death, and demands to be taken to the wealthy lordship he abandoned. In return, he agrees to grant the boy’s final wish, to join his family in death. But once they arrive, Rodric learns that there is a precipitous price to be paid for masquerading as Death, and realizes, albeit a bit too late, that it’s not always good to be King.
While not my favorite offering from Spectral, Finch certainly has a way with words. Though he paints a dour portrait, his brushstrokes are eloquent and unequaled in their execution. Whether describing a wild land reclaimed by nature, or a procession of the decomposing dead, there is beauty to be found. And it’s because of that beauty, that torrid love affair with morose prose, that this chapbook deserves to sit upon your shelf. A worthy addition to Spectral’s ever-growing library, but limited to their standard 100 signed and numbered editions, finding your own copy might be as hard as finding a lone survivor in a time of plague. But don’t let that stop you from jumping on the unearthly bandwagon. Future releases will sell out quickly, so make sure to stop by their website and subscribe, because the terrors you miss today, will surely turn into tomorrow’s spectral regrets.”
More reviews coming soon!
AN UPDATE: MUSIKS & MYTHOS
This is just to let those interested in purchasing copies of the series of Lovecraft audio-CDs that Temple of Azathoth Records are producing in collaboration with Spectral that the project has been delayed by two months due to a personal bereavement. The first in the series, featuring two stories from the master of cosmic terror himself (The Music of Erich Zann and Nyarlathotep) and a tale from the modern wielder of Lovecraft’s strange legacy, Joe Pulver (The Delirium of a Worm-Wizard), will now be available from May 2012 instead. More information will be brought to you here as the time approaches for release – but rest assured it WILL be unleashed upon an unsuspecting world…