Occultation and Other Stories is an amazing collection of different kind of modern horror stories. The stories in this collection range from dark fantasy to horror (or perhaps the best way to describe these stories is to say that they're modern horror stories, which contain dark fantasy elements).
Laird Barron's prose is beautiful, intelligent and sharp. His stories are original, fresh, weird, horrifying, a bit perverse and - above all - extremely fascinating. He writes fluently about different things and doesn't shy away from difficult topics. Good characters are an essential part of a good story and Laird Barron knows this, because his stories feature realistic and believable characters.
Laird Barron's stories are simply amazing, because they contain all the necessary elements a fan of modern horror wants to read about and much more. When I began to read this collection I expected it to be good, but I never thought that I'd like it this much - I have to confess that I love these stories, because weirdness, occultism, sexuality and psychological horror meet in an interesting, irresistible and original way in this collection.
The first story I read from Laird Barron was "The Broadsword". It was first published in S. T. Joshi's fantastic Lovecraftian anthology Black Wings. I loved "The Broadsword" and said to myself that Laird Barron is an author to watch. Now that I've read this collection I can say that he's an excellent and gifted horror writer.
The seductively weird atmosphere of Laird Barron's stories made a huge impression on me and they made me think about certain things. For example, "The Forest" made me think about life and how we experience it and how ignorant we are of what's around us and "Catch Hell" made me think about certain mythological things. This kind of intelligent horror is wonderful entertainment for adult readers.
There's something in Laird Barron's stories which reminds me of Lucius Shepard, Clive Barker, H. P. Lovecraft and other similar writers. I know that he's completely different from these writers, because he has his own voice, but these writes came to my mind when I read his stories. You're free to disagree with me on this, but I think that Laird Barron is almost like a modern equivalent of H. P. Lovecraft, because he writes similar kind of weird and fantastic fiction. The only difference is that he writes modern prose.
Occultation and Other Stories contains an introduction by Michael Shea and the following stories: - The Forest - Occultation - The Lagerstätte - Mysterium Tremendum (original to this collection) - Catch Hell - Strappado - The Broadsword - --30-- (original to this collection) - Six Six Six (original to this collection)
I'm not going to write about all the stories, because I'd probably end up using too many superlatives. Here's some information about certain stories so that you'll be able to see how versatile a writer Laird Barron is:
"The Forest": This is a story about Richard Partridge, who visits a New England estate and meets old friends. In my opinion this story shows the reader an interesting vision about the future of mankind.
"Occultation": An intriguing story about a couple in a motel room.
"Mysterium Tremendum": A fascinating story about a different kind of a road trip.
"Catch Hell": In this story a married couple arrives to an idyllic backwoods community, which is almost like something out of Lovecraft's stories.
"The Broadsword": This story is without a doubt a modern Lovecraftian masterpiece. It's a surprisingly original story.
It's a bit difficult for me to choose the best stories, because I liked all the stories. If I had to choose only one story, it would probably be "The Broadsword", "Catch Hell" or "The Forest".
Occultation and Other Stories is a perfect collection for all horror readers, who like modern stories, intelligent prose and macabre things - horror fans will love this collection, because the stories are excellent. I think that this collection is a must-read book for everybody who likes H. P. Lovecraft's weird stories.
'Occultation' is the second collection of Laird Barron's short stories. It collects stories published between 2007 and 2010.
'Occultation' is broadly similar in character to Barron's first collection, 'The Imago Sequence', and readers who enjoyed that book are unlikely to be disappointed by its successor. Barron works the boundary between horror and noir fiction. His aesthetic once again owes something to Lovecraft and other, later American horror writers, but he has a sufficiently powerful voice to hold his own against those echoes.
The roots of horror in Barron's imaginative world lie in a completely modern understanding of human psychology. These stories are not musty imitations: they are set in our own time, among people with whom we might share a drink or a bed. His characters are worldly-wise travellers, sexual adventurers, familiar with alcohol and recreational drugs. In theory, they should be more capable of dealing with the sharp edges of an ancient and indifferent universe than were the God-haunted, repressed inhabitants of the classic American horror tales...
As with the earlier collection, the best stories here are the longer ones, in which Barron takes time to build the reader's rapport with his characters. He's a much better writer than is usual in the genre, and his emotional range is unusually wide; the gay protagonists of 'Mysterium Tremendum' and 'Strappado' are completely convincing, but so are the women struggling with loss in 'The Lagerstätte' and 'Catch Hell'.
There were moments in certain of the stories at which I felt that the language was in danger of sliding back into Lovecraftian fustian and hyperbole, and might have benefited from a keener editing ear, but they were few. 'Occultation' maintains the standard set in 'The Imago Sequence'. It's hard to believe that there are many better writers in this area at the moment than Laird Barron.
Finished the book a month ago but can't get it out of my mind. I was never a big fan of Lovercraft and lovecraftian horror, but Barron's stories made me hungry for more, so I am in process of discovering now. And I must say so far I haven't found better stuff that the one in this collection. It's not really about plot and storyline, it's more about the feeling the stories gave me. It's hard to describe - he horror is not in your face, it's hidden between lines, it will brew in you long after you put the book down. I can't wait for Barron's upcoming novel!
This is the second collection of Laird Barron stories that I have had the pleasure to read. The first being the brilliant Imago Sequence. This second collection actually on the whole, tops the Imago Sequence collection. The stories in Occultation are in my opinion more accessible to take in as Laird can be quite challenging ay times. They are gripping, mysterious, creepy and sometimes weird and horrific but they all share one thing in common, they are superb pieces of fictional work. I highly recommend this book and I now look forward to reading more of what Laird has awaiting....