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Title: The Private Life of Elder Things
Editor: Adrian Tchaikovsky
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Genre: Cosmic Horror
From the wastes of the sea to the shadows of our own cities, we are not alone. But what happens where the human world touches the domain of races ancient and alien? Museum curators, surveyors, police officers, archaeologists, mathematicians; from derelict buildings to country houses to the London Underground, another world is just a breath away, around the corner, watching and waiting for you to step into its power. The Private Life of Elder Things is a collection of new Lovecraftian fiction about confronting, discovering and living alongside the creatures of the Mythos.
With stories from Adrian Tchaikovsky, Keris McDonald and Adam Gauntlett
This was a fantastic little read. I only have one quibble, which is why this got 4 stars instead of 5. One of the stories deals with a ghoul and ghouls reproduce by necrophilia. It wasn’t the main part of the story and isn’t revealed until the end, but it just made me go “Oh, that is disgusting!” and wonder if I’d made a mistake in picking the book up. Thankfully, nothing like that is repeated.
I’m a sucker for short story collections. Something about an author distilling a story down to just a couple of pages, or even up to 20’ish, works really well for me. Now, I can’t read just ONE short story. I won’t sit down and read one short story all by itself. So short stories that are online only (like the Powder Mage short stories were before McClellan put them altogether in one book) are a complete no-go for me. But give me a collection and bam, I’m eating that stuff with 2 spoons, 3 forks and a bottle of ketchup!
I also have a soft spot for cosmic horror. As long as it’s done well and doesn’t rely only on violence and profanity to shock the reader. The Rites of Azathoth was such a book and when I started this collection I was a little afraid that that was what I might be getting. Thankfully, I got some good writing and some excellently shivery stories. Just what I wanted and expected from a book with a title like this!
One thing to be aware of is some of the limey slang. One of the stories especially seemed to be deliberately written so as to be incomprehensible to anyone outside the shores of Albion. If I hadn’t read the movie review of The Sweeney a couple of months ago, I’d have been totally lost. Gor blimey govnah, the Sweeney is doing a real snazzertowsin. Ok, I made that up, but for that one story I felt like I had to get half the story from context instead of the actual words.
If Tchaikovsky were to put out another collection like this, I’d definitely be interested. But without his name I doubt I’d try something by the other two authors.