Written by Michael Griffin
Released on April 30, 2016
Published by Word Horde
With stories published in a diverse array of publications such as Apex and Black Static and anthologies like The Grimscribe’s Puppets and The Children of Old Leech, plus a cornucopia of work forthcoming, Michael Griffin has been garnering some impressive accolades from such high profile voices as S. P. Miskowski, Michael Cisco, and the reigning king of literary weird fiction, Laird Barron. So it’s no surprise to see that his debut collection, The Lure of Devouring Light serves as a showcase of some of the finest short horror fiction to be published in recent years.
In the past few years, the art of the short weird horror story has been experiencing a renaissance of sorts, gaining in both production levels and popularity at a rate never seen before. Once a sub-genre that enjoyed small niche groups of fans, it’s becoming more and more integrated into the mainstream of dark fiction, validated by editors and publishers, and embraced and championed by the reading community. And it’s because of authors like Michael Griffin, that rare breed of storyteller that comes around every now and then and raises the bar on a form, pushing it to heretofore unrealized levels and thereby establishing a new and elevated paradigm that other authors must meet or risk falling into obscurity.
Starting out with the titular story, The Lure of Devouring Light Michael Griffin quickly establishes his fascination with the strange as we meet a soul devouring cellist who meets justice in a cabin in the Oregon woods. With this tale, we see right from the start that we’re in for something outside the usual fare, something weird, terrifying, and special. Griffin writes with a poet’s sensibilities and a pioneer’s daring, giving us new and unusual fare with stories like ‘Dreaming Awake in the Tree of the World,’ in which a young college student wakes up in the boughs of a giant tree, delirious and being cared for by a strange woman who shows him bliss. But there’s a fine line between pleasure and pain, desire and terror and it soon becomes difficult to tell what’s real. Again in ‘The Accident of Survival,’ in which the protagonist and his lover barely miss certain death at the mercy of an oncoming truck, Michael displays a refreshing flair for the unique that is unmatched among speculative fiction writers today, mesmerizing us with his vision and holding us captive to his immense and wonderful imagination.
Griffin’s voice is lyrical and tantalizing in all of his work but it isn’t until you get to his longer works that you start to realize the true power and beauty of his creative passions. The novella ‘Far From Streets’ tells the story of a man and woman building a new and simpler life on a piece of property in the Oregon wilderness. But in the process of recreating themselves, they may also be losing themselves and even time itself as things become increasingly bizarre and terrifying:
“His eyes strained to discern drops of blood on unsealed wood. Outside, the sky was fully dark. Lantern light was sufficient to reveal obstacles in the night, but inadequate to reveal the sort of fine detail over which Dane had obsessed during construction. Of course he was missing some of the blood. The bird seemed to spray death over every surface in just seconds. One minute flying weightless, then a flurry of panic and it lay there broken, extinguished without warning.”
Closing out the collection strongly with ‘The Black Vein Runs Deep,’ another longer work, Michael once again digs into his seemingly bottomless well of ideas, giving us a story of a man and his boss as they make plans for a development on the slopes of Mt. Hood, falling in love along the way and, as in ‘Far From Streets,’ discovering the truth of themselves in the face of potentially losing everything.
The Lure of Devouring Light is a celebration of creativity and transformation, the tales therein often poignant, frequently terrifying, surreal, and brilliant. Michael Griffin has a style like no other author working in weird speculative fiction today, and what you’ll find within the pages of this breakout debut collection is nothing short of remarkable. Griffin is a stellar wordsmith who approaches his work like the artistry that it is, pouring his sweat, his blood, and his self into every exacting sentence and holding the reader captive from page one to the final, soul stirring, heartrending sentence. If you’re a fan of quiet literary horror with a sense of the fantastic about it, Michael Griffin has just what the doctor ordered. Do yourself a favor. Grab a copy of this book and hook yourself up with some magic.