London Macabre

Happy March, folks! Hagelrat's already gone on at length about Steven Savile's London Macabre, giving it a final review a few days ago, as well as providing little gasps and squeals as she read each portion Steven sent over to her. having now read it myself, I'll just add a few points from outside the box, so to speak.

As Hagel alluded to in her post, this book is fresh. So fresh it was almost dripping wet from birth (ewww) when I downloaded the file and loaded it up on my nook. It hasn't been published yet, and truth be told I'd be very surprised if London Macabre isn't at least tweaked and given a another slap of finish before it sees the light of day. But I have to admit, that was a large part of the excitement of reading it, feeling the passion of ideas still wriggling around on the page, the exuberance that comes with throwing something down on paper and watching it come to life, working with and against the other words it comes into contact with. The gift of creation, there before your eyes in a way that reading something picked off the shelf in the local super-store just can't imitate.

All this and I haven't said directly about London Macabre yet. Steven Savile is attempting a lot of things here, all of them ambitious: a period adventure that mixes generous doses of Lovecraftian horror, Victorian noir (if that term's not in usage yet, you heard it here first, kids), and the kind of pulp thrilling tales along the lines of Doc Savage. All of that wrapped in a pseudo-Dickensian narrative voice that has to accomplish a lot of things: breathe live into the fictional world he's creating, set up the beats of the story in a way to carry the momentum (no small feat when you're writing in this type of style) along, and develop his characters enough so that you come to acre what happens to them and see them through to the end of the adventure and beyond.

Accomplish all that he does, taking a well-worn story device (foolish person plays with magic beyond his control, opens up Doorway to Hell where creepy crawly things essentially wreak havoc until our heroes can save the day) and mixing in some extremely clever situations, over the top gore and imagery, and a supporting cast of characters broadly sketched to allow to you know their motivations without getting too bogged down in details. One example early on has the the Greyfriar's Club - a small Gentleman's Club that specializes in battling the Forces of Evil (think League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, only these are actual gentlemen, interested in fine cigars, brandy, and socializing in the lounge. Uh, with magic) turn back their first major attack by means of a wicked spell that is conjured by tricking Time into losing the seventh hour. Just writing that sentence brings a smile to my face - the means by which Savile runs his characters through hoops to accomplish this feat is wonderful, and indicative of what to expect throughout London Macabre.

Demons big and small, blasphemous images straight out of some Grand Guignol-style theater show, races against time and damsels in distress...make no mistake: Middemarch this ain't. London Macabre is here to give you a visceral thrill of the kind popularized decades ago, and it delivers on all counts. let's hope this is the first of many entries for the Greyfriar's, and that the blood won;t be long in coming to a bookseller near you.