Four and a half suspenseful, frightening tales in one.
Carter Weston is a student at Miskatonic University—imagine Harvard’s dark sister—when his advisor charges him with a quest to find a powerful dark tome. When Carter arrives at a tavern in Anchorhead during a heavy winter storm, he joins a table of four men who seem, unnervingly, to be waiting for him. At this point, the novel’s linear story line is abandoned. Each of the men, Jack, Daniel, William and Captain Jonathan Gray, has a tale to tell that’s related to the occult—and obliquely to the book Carter is charged to find. Most of the novel is spent recounting these tales, and Talley returns to the present only long enough to comment on the state of the storm. It only becomes clear in chapter three, with the mention of stagecoaches, that the book is set in the past—a reader unfamiliar with the genre might be confused. Even for the familiar reader, the time period is ambiguous. The four men’s stories, along with Carter’s, span nearly 100 years, but no dates are mentioned and there are instances of anachronism throughout. All of the stories are told in the same voice, and the storytellers themselves are painted nearly identically, as good-natured, frightened young men who are unwilling players in mankind’s struggle against a demonic tide. Still, Talley is wonderful at crafting suspense, and each sub-story pays homage to a high theme of occult horror: the spirit-creature in the woods, the unholy monastery and the insane asylum with dark secrets, respectively. Captain Grey and Carter’s stories are linked, and together they’re Talley’s version of a cursed treasure tale.
Plenty of suspense and chills to satisfy occult-horror fans.