the Little Red Reviewer

Garden of Eldritch Delights by Lucy A Snyder

Posted on: June 12, 2019

Garden of Eldritch Delights, by Lucy A. Snyder

published in 2018

where I got it: purchased new

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This book has been on my radar for a while.  It’s small press, so while I could have ordered a copy online anytime, I was hoping to find a printed copy in the wild.

 

It’s always nice when life hands you a two-fer.  I snagged a copy of Garden of Eldritch Delights at the dealer room at StokerCon in mid May, and then a few weeks later one of the stories in the collection, “Blossoms Blackened Like Dead Stars” was featured in Tor.com’s Lovecraft Reread series.  The stars must have been aligned! It was almost as if a strange force was arranging things so that I could read this book, and engage with the forbidden knowledge found within it’s pages . . .

 

Not sure what Lovecraftian fiction is?  Actually, you probably do. Ever played Arkham Horror? Ever read a Charles Stross Laundry novel? Did you read Ian Tregillis’s Milkweed Triptych or Elizabeth Bear’s Shoggoths in Bloom?   Authors love playing in Lovecraft land because you never run out of opportunities to provoke alien intelligences that are influencing humanity, elder creatures who view humans the way we view ants, forbidden knowledge,  people who aren’t quite human, unnerving horrors from below, and lots of other fun creepy and over the top stuff.  You’ve probably read something “lovecraftian” without even realizing it.

 

Here’s the thing tho –  H.P. Lovecraft was not a very good writer. Yeah, I said it. I’ve read his original and it’s . . .  ok? Kinda meh? I can appreciate his writing only because of where other writers went with it.

 

And where Lucy Snyder goes with it. . .  damn! Her delightfully dark collection Garden of Eldritch Delights takes Lovecrafts ideas of elder gods, humans enslaved by alien intelligences, mind control, and even evolution and the apocalypse, and more, and gives them a decidedly modern twist. If you enjoy modern takes on Lovecraftian fiction,  this is the short story collection for you! These stories are excellently written, enjoyable to read, and were just the right length for my short attention span. An unexpected surprise for me was how many of these stories revolve around sibling relationships.

Here are my thoughts on some of my favorite stories in the collection.

 

The collection starts off with a, is bang the right word? No, not bang, appetizer. “That Does Not Kill You” sets the tone for the whole book, and once you read this story you’ll know what you’re getting yourself into.   Also, I agree with Emily that everyone needs a friend who used to be a gymnast.

 

A  little bit later we get “Gentleman Caller”, about a woman who works as a sex phone operator. No one would ever guess she has a job like that!  She’s got a client who keeps calling her, and he hardly ever wants to talk about sex. When she realizes her strange ability is connected to that man, and that her beautiful sister has something to do with her plans, well, what’s a girl to do?

 

“Executive Functions” was absolutely my favorite story in the collection. It is super short, packs a helluva punch, and was just so damn entertaining!  I’ve got a wicked (and a little grossed out) grin on my face just thinking about this story! It is gloriously horrific, pretty gross, but it’s ok, because didn’t that jackass get what’s coming to him? If you’ve read “Vigilance” by Robert Jackson Bennett,  “Executive Functions” reminded me a little of that novella.

In “Fraeternal”, we meet twin siblings Billy and Lindy.  Billy is the smarter (by far!) sibling, he’s gotten the two of them involved in some neat genetic experiments, and by this point, Billy and Lindy are the only twins who are still in the program, the other sets have all washed out.  Lindy doesn’t even know what the goals of the experiments are. What’s so fun about this story is as I was reading my mind went back and forth between “do the twins just not know what is going on, and they are just acting as ever so slightly selfish humans?” or “do they know EXACTLY what is going on, and they each really, REALLY selfish?”.  A super fun story to mull over! Read this story, and then have your brother or sister read it and tell you what they think of it!

 

Of course I HAD to read “Blossoms Blackened like Dead Stars” after reading about it on tor.com! Beatrice is a fresh recruit.  She’s seen the enemy, and she thinks the only thing that can cure her nightmares is enlisting and given a chance to kill the enemy.  Everyone is told there is no coming back from this mission. Everyone is given a few days to leave, no harm no foul. She stays. She’d been a botanist in a past life, misses her lab, misses her plants, misses being surrounded by poisonous plants.  When humans, as we are, are truly incapable of killing an alien enemy, what weapons are left to us? If you want things to look like nails, better manufacture a lot of hammers. “Blossoms Blackened like Dead Stars” is an excellent story, I highly recommend it.

 

Does every story in this collection scream Lovecraft?  Not quite. But most of them do. If you’re looking for well written and wonderfully imagined modern takes on Lovecraftian fiction, this is the collection for you.  Looking for some enjoyable uncanny horror, or even just some good summer reads? Maybe you’ve got a teenager who is ready for some grown up horror that will scare, but not scar them?  Yep, this is the collection for you.

 

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some of the books reviewed here were free ARCs supplied by publishers/authors/other groups. Some of the books here I got from the library. the rest I *gasp!* actually paid for. I'll do my best to let you know what's what.
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