Books: The Best Fantasy Collection You've Never Heard Of

While there are doubtless many obscure fantasies which are excellent and deserve a wider audience, this is one which won a World Fantasy Award- it's pleasures are not hypothetical, they've been bedecked with laurels by the high powers, beating out luminaries Ray Bradbury, Peter S Beagle & Michael Swanwick in the 'best collection' category.

Allow me to introduce the exceptional

Throne of Bones by Brian McNaughton.

I acquired a copy years back when it floated through the shop.  The cover wasn't exactly inspiring, and it was a book club edition which are normally anathema, but I scanned the blurb & was brought up short by it's subject- life in a city of ghouls.

Zombies, everywhere.  Vampires and werewolves practically have their own sections....even mummies have a decent enough bibliography in fantasy fiction.

But ghouls?
They're like the zombies uncool country cousins, unlikely to turn up outside an old AD&D Monster Manual looking like this:

Just what a used book dealer wants to see.  Books on uncommon topics have a special allure in the business, beyond potential salability.  So I grabbed it, not with particularly high hopes but as a curiosity.

And it was terrific!
Redolent of old masters like Lovecraft & the better parts of Chambers without being in any way derivative, respectful of the classic tropes but filtered through a modern viewpoint.

After I finished I loaned it out to a friend and never got it back and it drifted out of my consciousness. Then my recent mini-obsession with eerie Mythos fiction tickled a memory.

"What was that book on ghouls I read years back?" I wondered, but the title was elusive.

Enter GOOGLE, the all seeing eye!
A quick search for "fiction ghouls necropolis" led me in short order to my quarry, which I promptly ordered.

So, there- excellent, award winning fantasy/horror fiction I'll bet you'd never heard of.
A re-review will be forthcoming.

No comments: