Review: “Mysterium Tremendum” by Laird Barron

3 of 5 stars.

This occult / horror story nearly hits novella length as it follows Willem over the course of a few days as he and his boyfriend, Glenn, host married-couple, college buddies of Glenn’s, Dane and Victor, for a romp around Seattle and the Olympia Peninsula. A long weekend of over-drinking, pot-smoking, and rehashing old college stories takes an interesting turn when the quartet find and purchase a strange book when they are tent-shopping.

The book shows a where’s where to Washington State’s occult scene. With plans set on camping and hiking anyway, they set their sights on a listing in the book for a possibly one-of-a-kind dolmen [Nordic tomb] out on Olympia Peninsula. The college friends also confess to dabbling in a bit of arcane mysteries when in college with buddy, Tommy, who permanently disappeared on a previous rustic outing with the trio.

The story turns toward the darkside with each of the men’s lives tested and changed forever in the Northwest’s temperate rainforest.

“Mysterium Tremendum” appears in New Cthulhu 2: More Recent Weird edited by Paula Guran after originally appearing in Occultation and Other Stories (Night Shade Books, 2010). I’d previously read Barron’s “(Little Miss) Queen of Darkness” which also utilized a queer voice to delve into an occult / horror theme.
[Check out my other reviews here.]


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