This Collection includes: “Banishments” • “Fragile Masks” • “Neithernor” • “Deep Eden” • “The Patter of Tiny Feet” • “The Rasping Absence”• “Scold’s Bridle: A Cruelty” • “Crawlspace Oracle” • “After the Final” • “The Sullied Pane” • “Cast Lots”• “Notes on the Aztec Death Wistle” • “Headsman’s Trust: A Murder Ballad” • “Chain of Empathy” • “Three Knocks on a Buried Door” • “Ten of Swords: Ruin”
This review covers the first story within the grotesquerie collection titled Banishments, which is apart of my Halloween reading list. I chose to review the short story instead of reviewing the whole book because I am treating this as somewhat of a study to identify the core elements and atmosphere in writings. This book can be considered heavier reading, but I knew what I was getting myself into before I started.
Banishments is a truly interesting story with murky elements and emotional ties in setting to a broken home, but more importantly what is found floating down a stormy, rushing river. And the writings here in Banishments has a classical type feel that left me in somewhat of a confused state when certain elements were finally introduced. However, I feel like that is not at fault of the writer, but my own as my assumptions led me to believe, based on what was presented that at first had me thinking this story took place in some distant world.
A ton of room is left for imagination in Banishments without feeling like it’s an incomplete story. I love the fact that this story makes me go “Wait…” did I catch that correctly? For what lies at the root of that is the foundation of what I am, then I decide how to react to that, which should have a different effect on each person that reads.
“It came shimmying along the bends, using the current as its pallbearer. Under a sky whose grey conveyed a celestial exhaustion, Death swam swiftly.”Page 13 in grotesquerie by Richard Gavin
This story ties many things together in somewhat of a genius collaboration of thought, relationships, the arcane, emotion, setting, horror and self reflection. Some words I had to look up and I like that, to a degree. I was second guessing myself at several different parts and whether I should or should not be feeling a certain way, in most time I do on my own, but the text here reinforced that behavior and to my surprise I was justifying my own self reflection while reading the text because I was wrong about a couple of things at first. This presents a marvel on it’s own merit.
Several actions by the main characters surrounding the dialog of Will and Dylan accentuated the emotional impact the story had on me and fit well, so congratulations to the author for tying those two elements together quite nicely. A lot of times it is the small details authors need to pay attention to make the story fit snugly for interpretation to us as a reader and that attention to detail here adds great value.
The only negative thing I can say is that a little more variation to the start of paragraphs or sentences could have been better, but these are minor inconveniences and happened infrequently. This did not affect my star rating.
This type of writing is not for everyone. With that being said, I categorized this as a prize in literature and I give Banishments, the first short story in the collection, grotesquerie ★★★★★ 5 stars out of 5.
Guys, until next time – may you find all the happiness that your life can fit in it’s happy spot – S.D. McKinley