CAFE PURGATORIUM by Dana M. Anderson


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 ``Three original novels of horror and the fantastic'' claims the publisher in its catalogue and galley copy. Well, not quite. It turns out that these are novellas, not novels; and, more importantly, the longest work here--Garton's ``Dr. Krusadian's Method''--appeared in his Methods of Madness collection (1990). Moreover, the quality here is, at best, just a cut above 1950's pulp--and that's in the last and shortest novella. Readers must first slog through Anderson's lumpy title story, in which a man buys a haunted nightclub, learns that the souls therein are coveted by Lucifer, and does bloody battle with His minions, winning with the same principle that allowed the Little Engine to go up the hill. As short-story writer Anderson's longest published work, this bodes poorly; Garton, whose ``Dr. Krusadian's Method'' comes next, can at least fall back on having written one of the wittiest of splatterpunk novels, Live Girls (1987 paperback). Here, in a yarn about an occult cure for child abuse, the splatter is in full force, if not the wit. More appealing is de Lint's ``Death Leaves an Echo,'' in which this prolific mass-market fantasist (Jack the Giant Killer, 1990, etc.) spins a catchy premise--a man wakes up to find every trace of his wife gone from the world--and embroiders it inventively. The revelatory climax lacks the drama of the premise and is preceded by some gratuitously graphic sex, but, overall de Lint spools out a smooth and satisfying yarn. Skip the Anderson, rip out the Garton, you're left with one decent novella--for $18.95?

Pub Date: July 22nd, 1991
ISBN: 0-312-85180-4
Page count: 288pp
Publisher: Tor
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15th, 1991


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