Cower not, fierce reader!
It’s been a very long time. I’m currently recovering from Covid(that’s recovering, not ill), and am on leave. I hope I can do some after I get back to work, but I will make no promises.
A couple days ago, I saw a bunch of authors promoting this book in my Twitter feed, because it had just hit Amazon. I must confess I’ve had a physical copy for months, and have only now finished it. Partly, I think I have a harder time with print now over electronic. Also, I do a lot of reading via apps while I’m on breaks at work. Anyway, to the book!
This book definitely leans toward old school horror. It’s also a bit of gothic horror, and very much focused on the titular location. I appreciate this greatly, because most modern horror is simply gore fest style work, at least outside the Lovecraft ripoffs, and even there, I suspect. I will not attempt most modern horror as it is vile and normalizes evil, giving the appearance of sometimes being good.
Not so here. Evil is acknowledged as evil, and proceeds anyway, though our narrator(it is in first person) is torn over the acts he commits. There’s not any moral ambiguity, though there is among the evil characters a Nietzschean philosophy of survival of the strongest.
I have only one minor complaint: the narrator uses CE for year reference. He is at least mildly evil already, so it does make sense.
Now, for a small bit of Spoiler based discussion, so scroll down to the conclusion if you wish to avoid this.
There’s much in this book’s narrative that reminds me of the David Cronenberg film eXistenZ. In eXistenZ, it’s a VR game that connects directly to the mind, and there are several game layers. The last line of the movie is “Tell me. Are we still in the game?” Fiendilkfjeld Castle takes place largely in dreams. In fact, one cannot be sure if any of it takes place outside of dreams, though the last section appears to do so.
The main character and narrator is also unreliable, as he is clearly at least being driven mad. This is in addition to the multi layered dreams, so one is not sure while reading if something happened or not. I will admit this did slow me down a little in frustration, but more of not comprehending than with the story itself.
The story, though sometimes confusing, does have rewards for the reader, and clarifies by the end. The horror is a type that truly does horrify; it lingers on, as the concepts and conceits of the tale hold the reader much tighter than the gross normalization of evil that most modern horror has. I must congratulate Matthew Pungitore on his part of reclaiming even part of a genre long lost to degenerates.
7.5 of 10 fell deeds
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