It Rides a Pale Horse

Redhook: Orbit. Oct. 2022. 368p. ISBN 9780316629522. pap. $17.99. HORROR
The latest from Marino (The Seven Visitations of Sydney Burgess) is a lesson about how art can open doors that probably shouldn’t be opened. The story focuses on the Lark siblings, both eccentric artists. Peter Larkin (Lark to his friends) is a famous artist, a hometown boy who made good yet decided to stay in the community where he grew up, idyllic Wofford Falls. His sister Betsy is also talented, but her paintings can have disconcerting effects on people and on reality itself. This makes her integral to the plans of a pair of one-percenter siblings who want the Larkins to help them create works of art that might just destroy the world. Marino demonstrates his skill as a storyteller, creating empathetic, fleshed-out characters who must fight through the madness that is bearing down on them—but note that this novel isn’t Stephen King–style, slice-of-Americana, triumph-of-the-human-spirit horror.
VERDICT Marino is very willing to plumb the depths of human discomfort and nihilistic despair, revealing disturbing images that sear into the brain while showing how art, and sibling bonds, can both create and destroy.
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