Novella Review: Halloween Town by Lucius Shepard

3 of 5 stars.

This is the story of Clyde Ormoloo and the willow wan, but it’s also the story of Halloween, the spindly, skinny town that lies along the bottom of the Shilkonic Gorge, a meandering crack in the earth so narrow that on a clear day the sky appears to those hundreds of feet below as a crooked seam of blue mineral running through dark stone.

Like the opening line [as seen above], this novella meanders and crosses back on itself in odd, unpredictable ways. Halloween, the town, seems to inhabit its own universe divorced from the rest of the world–like a Brigadoon, or a Bailey’s Cafe. People that need the escape from the outer world, sometimes find their way here. Indeed, the residents call the rest of the US, “the republic,” in acknowledgement of their other status.

Clyde, when hit in the head in a construction accident, finds that he can read people and their motivations and history all too easily in the light. His questioning intelligence soars beyond that of his old acquaintances. He escapes to the dim shadows of Halloween to find solace. But what he finds is a town steeped in its own sordid rituals and histories. Something in the river pulls people and dogs under. Something else skitters along the underside of the cliffs hunting all the cats, there’s 1 left. And nobody-but-nobody goes beyond the 3 pools of marinating walnuts at the edge of town where the genetics lab used to run business.

It’s a town of secrets and missing people . . .

This novella was included in the anthology The Year’s Best Dark Fantasy & Horror: 2010 edited by Paula Guran.
 
 
 
[Check out my other reviews here.]

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