Review: “Necrotic Cove” by Lois H. Gresh

2 of 5 stars.

This psychologically muddled tale borrows from Lovecraft to create an allegory that lacks subtlety. The narrator, Cassandra, is compromised by chronic pain and simple-mindedness, the latter possibly driven by her love of the other character, Tatania. The differences between the two couldn’t have been made bolder. Cassandra is lonely, trusting, and grotesque in appearance. Tatania, the thrice-divorced gold-digger, is grotesque on the inside, but that has been hidden under plastic surgery, thick makeup, hair dye and expensive clothes and affectations.

The scene is other-worldly, or supernaturally energized, as Cass explores her role in the universe, and her relationship to Tat. The descriptions of the scene, however, are as problematic as the unsubtle name Necrotic Cove: “The sun hangs low and drools lava across a sea the color of stillborn baby.” Most people have not seen a stillborn baby, nor are dead babies all the same color. If Cass has, then there is a story there that needs to be relayed. If she has not, then she is saying it from an untrue place for shock value. It sounds like the stuff of bad poetry. Better is an evocative following line: “The air reminds me of cantaloupes left on the counter too long.”

While it is understandable that Cassandra’s view is tainted by her long-suffering with cancer and her closeness to death, where the descriptions veer maudlin, or overly dramatic, it’s hard to trust her perspective, such as when she notes “[Tatania] drops to the sand beneath the brown entrails of a palm.” The metaphor likening dead palm fronds to animal intestines makes a couple leaps that ultimately jarred me from the story.

“Necrotic Cove” appears in New Cthulhu 2: More Recent Weird edited by Paula Guran after originally appearing in Black Wings III, ed. S. T. Joshi (PS Publishing, 2013).
[Check out my other reviews here.]

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