“Well, that’s quite the story, isn’t it? Not exactly what one wants to hear on the eve of an expedition,” He laughed, but it was no more honest than his smile.
After the ominous book, The Incendium Maleficarum has disappeared from the personal safe of Carter Weston, he too seems to have vanished into thin air. After several months without a single trace, Weston has been declared deceased. As the community mourns his passing, his colleague and friend Henry Armitage and daughter Rachel Jones aren’t entirely convinced. They set out abroad, determined to solve the mystery of his disappearance. With fear, evident danger and unspeakable horrors at every turn, the unlikely duo finds there is far more than meets the eye in He Who Walks in Shadow.
I should first make it abundantly known that I was just a little more than intimidated to read the latest release from Brett J. Talley. For one, I’ve never fared particularly well with literary style fiction. Somewhere in the prose I get lost and have difficultly digesting the plot to its maximum potential. As the old adage goes I like my fiction like I like my women cheap and trashy. But in all seriousness one doesn’t not have to be a devout commercial horror fiction fan to fully appreciate and revel in the exquisite story of He Who Walks In Shadow.
Talley’s Lovecraftian homage takes place in the 1930’s and is a loose sequel to That Which Should Not Be. He Who Walks in Shadow, however is much more than that. In the previous installment we learn of Carter Weston’s obsession with the Incendium Maleficarum a book that contains such dark, sinister content it may hold the very key to unleashing hell on earth as we know it. This time around, we learn more about Weston’s obsession into holding onto the book and the lengths he’ll undertake to ensure it does not fall into the wrong hands.
It’s evident the degree of extensive research Talley must have taken to emulate an accurate 1930’s society. Each of his cultural references reign true from societal and moral values to etiquette, apparel, customs, and last but certainly not least the often poetic form of communitive prose. As a result the readership never second guesses the authenticity of the tale and the plausibility factors of this spell binding tale are forever enhanced.
In fact He Who Walks In Shadow is so articulate and complex I dare say a dozen reads could exhume something a little different each time for the constant reader. Talley seems to understand his market well and hones in on his target, packing one hellacious of a wallop. Whether you’ve read it once, half a dozen times or been merely curious about this reading odyssey, guaranteed this novel will spawn many an intriguing conversational piece, deeming it a certifiable classic for future ages.
As previously mentioned I was a little intimidated before embarking upon this reading adventure, perhaps one reason as to why it had sat with me for an extended period of time. It is also quite possibly only the author and myself will truly understand the degree of lengths that were undertaken to get this review beyond the point of conception. Brett J. Talley is one of those rare authors that is every bit as modest as he is gifted and very approachable in terms of talking shop and the industry in whole. If you’re a budding fan, a die-hard or brand new to his work, I strongly suggest you take the time to reach out to him on social media and I guarantee you will not be disappointed.
The author’s literary prowess is unprecedented and at times is reminiscent of some of Anne Rice’s earlier works. The message is conveyed in flawless execution without coming across as pretentious and condescending, in fact the very opposite occurs and the reader finds himself mesmerized with the content, the parameters of imagination expanded beyond simple conscious belief.
Perhaps one component that instantly captivated my attention is the varying point of view in which He Who Walks With Shadow is designed. We get to know each Carter Weston, Henry Armitage and Rachel Jones as they recount each of their endeavors in a journal outlining the sequence of events while in pursuit of The Incendium Maleficarum. This type of prose keeps the imaginative landscape fresh as we get into an emotional investment with the characters as the plot forever escalates in a seemingly subliminal fashion.
Fans of H.P. Lovecraft will rejoice as certain variables are introduced beyond the mere Incendium Maleficarum. Nyarlathotep is introduced as a character and we learn of the Oculus as well as The Staff of Dzyan and the sinister ramifications each holds in the right environment.
I’d known without a shadow of a doubt I was onto something special in Brett J. Talley’s latest when approaching the final fifty pages or so an undeniable sense of sorrow began to settle in, in realizing this reading odyssey was just about over. One cannot help but savor the final pages in eager anticipation of his next release.