Monday, May 9, 2022

The Lost Reviews

I understand Amazon’s desire to prevent false, agenda-driven reviews from dominating their product pages, but their policy of removing reviews just because someone is connected in some way, such as via Facebook, is extreme and unpractical — especially since so many writers and readers are connected on social media, as well as in person. Amazon has removed three out four of the reviews so far posted for Fugue Devil: Resurgence, simply because the writer is “connected” with me in some fashion. And those are just the ones I am aware of. Who knows if others I’m not aware of have been axed as well. Anyway, with writer Stephen H. Provost’s approval, here is his review, which Amazon removed:

If you read it, it will hook you.

“I thoroughly enjoyed this collection of tales that provide just the right mix of horror with suspense, interspersed with elements of science fiction and even whimsy. These stories have the feel of having been written by someone who grew up watching The Twilight Zone and The Outer Limits, which is just the kind of alternate-reality fiction I enjoy. These works aren’t just frightening in the moment; they’re thoughtful and well-crafted. They stick with you.

The first two entries and the final story are all connected, creating a tidy bookend feel to the collection — a notable and welcome distinction from most such compilations. They’re also among my favorites. The underlying premise that one’s fate is sealed if one chances to see the titular demon-monster, the Fugue Devil, is a powerful one that's been echoed to some degree in more recent sensory-based thrillers such as “Bird Box” (another favorite of mine) and “A Quiet Place.” But you’d be hard-pressed to find it more skillfully executed than it is here. And Rainey did it first.

Other highlights for me included:
  • “Somewhere, My Love,” which is more wistful fantasy than horror, and deftly done.
  • The disquieting “When Jarly Calls” (I may not go wine tasting again anytime soon).
  • The surreal “Escalation,” with its killer (literally) twist.
  • “Pons Devana,” which is set in Roman Britain and offers a troubling brew of sorcery, dark science fiction, and psychological horror.
  • “Messages From a Dark Deity,” which contained a particular scene that shocked the hell out of me.
Having lived in southern Virginia, I recognized the strong sense of place the author has created: The setting runs through many of these stories. At times, the fictional setting Aiken Mill itself conjures up the a sense of dread and foreboding that sets the stage for what’s to come. I highly recommend Fugue Devil: Resurgence for any fan of Rainey’s work and of suspense, horror, and psychological thrillers in general. You won’t go wrong with this one.

Stephen H. Provost

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