The Strange: J.B. Murray
Reviewed By A.S. MacKenzie
As anyone who loves the horror genre will tell you, whether you liked Edgar Allen Poe’s stories or not, his influence on the genre is indelible. One really cannot think of a story set in that period of time and not think of him as an influence. He was able to capture so much about the atmosphere of the time simply through his near lyrical style. I dare say that for me, the definition of ‘macabre’ was created for him and from him. In short, we owe Poe a great deal for the wonderful stories we experience today.
When I was handed a copy of The Strange by J.B. Murray I admittedly didn’t know much more than the blurb our editor sent us, but that was enough. It told of a fictional account of Edgar Allen Poe and how he, with the help of two others, set about through time to stop a horrific nightmare, while simultaneously a Mary Shelly character creates their own monster to hunt the same nightmare. I gladly accepted the copy and started reading that night.
The thing you see from page one is that Murray writes lyrically. Not that his writing could be set to music, but lyrically in that the flow and cadence of his narrative lend itself to the progression, ambience, and emotion of the story. And this was really encapsulated in the first two sentences:
“Nights like this are the most difficult. An endless wade in waters thick and viscous; a current tugging at your soul, trying to drown one’s spirit.”
In that first bit, we are introduced to a flow that stays with us through to the last page.
Rey, one of our protagonists who is wallowing in destructive drinking due to severe personal loss, meets Poe as he materializes in his kitchen. Poe tells him of an evil that has brought him forward from 1849. Clara, a woman who has suffered the loss of her family, finds she is now the caretaker of a large home estate. Though the two have their different stories taking place simultaneously, we jump back and forth between them and another thread following Percy and Mary Shelly, along with Byron, and their attempt to create a monster to combat a growing darkness. The three threads continue independently for much of the story before the reader sees the interconnecting picture.
Overall, the story moves well and keeps pace with the dialogue and characterizations. A few times we see the artistic license Murray uses to give Poe life, but they aren’t glaringly different enough from what we can assume by the man to feel out of place or any sort of mischaracterization. While we know the causes and motives behind what is going on in the larger story, we are not given a clue as readers as to what the outcome might be and how that will unfold.
Murray has created a story that blends horror, sci-fi, and a thriller together in a mix of time travel and the supernatural. Immensely creative and engaging, it can stand on its own as a story, but also as a fantastic view of who Poe could have been. Highly recommend this for anyone who wants a good read, regardless of genre.
Edgar Allan Poe… haunted… dark… mysterious… time traveler?
A timeless nightmare stalks both the day and night. It’s taken everything from Poe, compelling the man to traverse time itself in search of a savior.
Reynolds, a man broken by tragedy, and Clara, a woman who’s lost so much in her young life are thrust together by the enigmatic Poe to aid his quest. Will the two succeed in hunting the most cunning of history’s greatest monsters? Or will they become the hunted?
Meanwhile in Europe, Byron and Mary work relentlessly in creating a monster of their own, for the purpose of eradicating such an evil. But have they gone too far? And what consequences have they wrought upon this world?
The Strange is a place where history meets fiction and the two dance delightfully to the calliope of the supernatural, science fiction, mystery, horror and suspense.
A. S. MacKenzie
A. S. MacKenzie is an Atlanta based author who loves all things books, movies, games, and comics. He lives with his wife, spoiled dogs, and an unhealthy obsession with building things. He can be found building worlds in books, building plastic models, or building with wood. Check out his website at asmackenzie.com for ways to join his newsletter and read free stories. Also, he’s been known to frequent Twitter (@a_s_mackenzie) to say something vaguely interesting and Instagram (a.s.mackenzie) for food, travel, and random pics.
Ice Where There Was None
A block of ice in a Florida park. A victim posed inside.
The first officers on the scene struggle to maintain the melting evidence.
Then it happens again.
…and again….and again…
While the officers wonder why they are always the first on scene, their department begins to wonder the same.
You can claim a copy of Ice Where There Was None via A.S. MacKenzie’s library