Genre: Pychological Horror
True to its blurb, Shadow Lands brings us into the mind of Steve Goldblatt, who takes us on a journey across a landscape filled with macabre and often horrifying elements treated as normal, everyday occurrences. At times difficult to follow (on purpose, as our narrator is in the unreliable school of Poe’s Tell-Tale Heart narrator), the story unfolds like a lazy, yawning cat. That has one eye. And long teeth. And wants to eat you whole.
We begin in the present. Steve meets his friend Tom to go fishing. Seems simple enough until Tom thwacks our narrator in the head with an oar. This opens up Goldblatt’s recollections, from his childhood to his adult life. Kessler captures these moments well, and drapes every one of them with a gauzy shawl of horrific. Nothing in this book is innocent, and nothing maintains a feeling of normalcy. Any sort of typical experience is tainted with Steve’s not-quite-rose-colored glasses, and there’s always a heavy feeling of trepidation hanging. This is truly Kessler’s style–you’re never ever quite comfortable with what you’re reading, and sometimes you’re not entirely sure why.
Fans of EA Poe should probably give Kessler a try, especially if you’re a fan of unreliable narrators. This book isn’t for everyone, though, so if you’re not okay with not knowing 100% of what’s going on, you may want to pass.
Shadow Lands is available at: