On the Hierophant Road

Raw Dog Screaming: Dog Star. Oct. 2021. 232p. ISBN 9781947879379. pap. $15.95. HORROR
Chambers’s (The Dead in Their Masses) new collection of stories (blending science fiction, horror, folklore, myth, and magic) proposes that there are places beyond the world we know: places where humans can fly, where having a singular body is condemnable, where comic book characters plot to overthrow their creators. Chambers hands readers a map to these unknowable worlds and points the way into the shadows; he is a capable guide. There’s confident worldbuilding throughout, even in the collection’s shorter tales, and Chambers nails the many narrative styles deployed in the stories; the work really sings when its weirdness is married to narrative tropes readers know well. The collection is at its best in stories like “Meet the Tuskersons,” a strange “whatever happened to…?” story about the only human star of an all-walrus family sitcom, and “He Who Burns,” a bit of crime fiction that pits a grizzled alchemist against a fire elemental where cleverness—not magic—saves the day.
VERDICT Readers searching for something unexpected will find a lot to admire in this ambitious, inventive collection.
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