2 of 5 stars.
Found footage, photos, journals, and notes convey a sense of mystery surrounding the question: What happened to the people who’d chronicled the artifact before it was lost? The mystery comes at the expense of immediacy in that the chronicler’s voice is limited to the breadth of the evidence left behind, while the finder rarely has contextual information to cast light on the mystery.
This tale reads as an urban legend as it doubles down on the mysteries within the confines of one body of found notes. A couple college girl roommates [and part-time lovers] disappear leaving the notebook of one of the girls. It contains a few index notes from the second girl showing the increase strain in their relationship and a few odd references that verge on supernatural.
The bulk of the notebook contains the research of the first girl about a couple that had disappeared 150 years earlier. A painter and his muse vanish despite the best efforts of the painter’s patron who’s married to the unwilling muse. Their disappearance has traces of the supernatural but remains a mystery, as does the existence and location of the painting of the patron’s wife.
The dreams and feelings reported by both painter’s muse and roommate scrawling in the margins are strikingly similar . . .
Due to the nature of the tale–a researched story in the pages of a notebook with margin notes from someone else–every aspect of the case is pushed into the distance and a few layers removed. One also knows from the outset that there’ll be no resolution.
This tale appears in the New Lovecraftian anthology, The Mammoth Book of Cthulhu edited by Paula Guran. I received my copy of the anthology directly from Prime Books. I’ve previously read this author’s “And the Carnival Leaves Town”, “Chasing Sunset”, “Letters to a Body on the Cusp of Drowning”, and “We Are Not These Bodies, Strung Between the Stars”–3 stars.
[Check out my other reviews here.]