AT FEAR’S ALTAR by Richard Gavin


This is not a review. Richard Gavin’s AT FEAR’S ALTAR (Hippocampus, 2012) is unusual in contemporary fiction both in terms of tone and voice. Certainly many claim to be heirs of Machen and Blackwood, and perhaps they do these men justice by examining the themes of nature and wilderness, but only Richard Gavin manages to capture that pervasive sense of otherworldliness and weave that queasy sensation of not understanding a world while feeling so much a part of it. Richard’s alien landscapes touch those mysterious corners in us all. The unsettling “Chapel in the Reeds” does it, as does the fabulous “The Abject”—a tale of the horrifically beautiful (or the beautifully horrific) if ever there was one. And of course there’s “The Eldritch Faith”, a novella that is so completely other, so completely fantastical and foreign, that I expect students of the weird will be trying to unravel it long after we have all gone. In a twelve month period where we have seen some very significant collections of weird fiction published, AT FEAR’S ALTAR stands tall among them, and is another essential piece in the weird fiction lover’s library.