Monday, August 1, 2011

Review: The Imago Sequence

Laird Barron's The Imago Sequence is a collection of horror/fantasy short stories written in the eldritch tradition.  The novel collects nine short stories filled with weird, dark and devilish happenings.

The Imago Sequence is hands down my least favorite read of 2011.

I came into this novel with a lot of excitement, and high expectations, and unfortunately they weren't met.  I'm always in search of some fantasy that is non-traditional, and melds the genres of horror and fantasy.  After some internet research I thought for sure Barron's works would be just the thing to tickle my fancy, but I'm sad to say this collection of short fiction didn't work for me in the least.

From the starting gun, I had problems with Barron's pacing.  His prose is pretty dense, and filled with description.  I appreciate it when an author can impart a strong sense of place, and make emotions leap off the page, and I can appreciate Barron's efforts on that front, but that effect just didn't click between me and Laird.  I found myself sludging through the pages, to the point where reading the book felt like drudgery.

Normally, that sense of drudgery would be more than enough to make me put the book down and read something else, but the fact that The Imago Sequence is a short story collection had me continuously hoping that the next story would be better.  I had it in my head that one of the collected stories would just blow my mind and make the whole thing worth the effort. The fact that the title story was also the last story meant that I stuck around to the bitter end in hopes of salvation, but none was found. 

Aside from a prose style that I found impossible to lose myself in, I felt like the stories themselves all sort of felt the same in terms of tone and substance.  When I read a collection of short stories, I hope for some variety in the stories, which I thought was one of they many strengths of 20th Century Ghosts by Joe Hill.   Unfortunately, I found little of that variety with The Imago Sequence

Now, I don't want to give the wrong impression, and say that The Imago Sequence is total crap.  It's not.  It just didn't work for me in very important ways.  Just as I could easily tell you why the book didn't work for me, I could also see why someone else might love the book for the very reasons I didn't like it.  Barron has some cool/weird ideas that at times made for some interesting reading, and if you are into the Lovecraft-style horror, then there's things in this collection you'll appreciate.  I found it nearly impossible to sink my teeth into though, and can't give it my recommendation.

Grade: D-

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