Laird Barron's novella, The Light is the Darkness, will be published in August 2011 by Infernal House (Bloodletting Press). It will contain illustrations by David Ho. Each copy will be signed by Laird Barron and the illustrator David Ho. This edition is limited to only 174 copies.
Laird Barron is the author of two short story collections (The Imago Sequence and Occultation).
Here's an official description of The Light is the Darkness:
Conrad Navarro is a champion of the Pageant, a gruesome modern day gladiatorial exhibition held in secret arenas across the globe. Indentured by a cabal of ultra-rich patrons, his world is one of blood and mayhem, an existence where savagery reigns supreme while mercy leads to annihilation.
Conrad’s sister has vanished while traveling in Mexico. Imogene, a decorated special agent for the FBI, was hot on the trail of a legendary scientist whose vile eugenics experiments landed him on an international most-wanted list. Imogene left behind a sequence of bizarre clues that indicate she uncovered evidence of a Byzantine occult conspiracy against civilization itself – a threat so vast and terrible, its ultimate fruition would herald an event more inimical to all terrestrial life than mere extinction.
Now, Conrad is on the hunt, searching for his missing sister while malign forces seek to manipulate and destroy him by turns. It is an odyssey that will send this man of war from the lush jungles of South America, to the debauched court of an Aegean Prince, to the blasted moonscape of the American desert as he becomes inexorably enmeshed within a web of primordial evil that stretches back unto prehistory. All the while struggling to maintain a vestige of humanity; for Conrad has gazed into an abyss where the light is the darkness, and he has begun the metamorphosis into something more than human...
Here's the review:
A REVIEW OF LAIRD BARRON'S THE LIGHT IS THE DARKNESS
Before I write anything else, I'll mention that this review is based on a PDF ARC, which didn't contain any artwork. The published book will contain beautiful and atmospheric art by David Ho.
The Light is the Darkness is a fantastically written story about occultism, secret projects, family secrets and blood sport. It can be categorized as literary horror, dark fantasy and weird fiction, because it contains several different elements.
Here's some information about the plot:
The protagonist, Conrad, is a modern day gladiator, who's looking for his missing sister, Imogene. Imogene disappeared mysteriously while she was searching for the brilliant, but sinister Dr. Drake, who may have possibly murdered their brother Ezra (Imogene suspected that Dr. Drake murdered him and used him in horrible experiments). As the story begins to unfold and secrets are revealed, Conrad finds out several disturbing things about his family, especially about his father. He also learns that he may be changing into something non-human. The reader will also find out what kind of a man Conrad is and what has been done to him.
Laird Barron is a master of beautiful and nuanced prose. This novella is a perfect example of his writing skills and masterful storytelling, because he has created a multilayered and complex plot, which hooks the reader immediately. In my opinion this novella is an irresistible combination of literary horror and dark fantasy. It's almost like a one man's incredible odyssey from light to darkness, but it's also much more than that, because the protagonist undergoes a physical change and is born again as a new being.
Laird Barron's character development is flawless and he makes Conrad a believable character. He writes fluently about Conrad's childhood and later life. He also writes unflichingly about Conrad's fights. Other characters (Uncle Kosokian, Marsh, Singh etc) are also interesting, but the author concentrates mostly on Conrad and his feelings, which is good, because the events are seen through his eyes.
The ending of this story is simply amazing and it demonstrates that Lovecraftian dark fantasy and cosmic horror hasn't lost its appeal over the decades. The ending is pure delight for fans of cosmic horror – it won't leave anybody cold.
It was interesting to read about the fight between Conrad and his father, because it was a short, but emotionally and physically brutal fight, which changed Conrad's life. It was also fascinating to read about the conflict between Uncle Kosokian and Dr. Drake, because it was an old feud, which couldn't be resolved easily and Conrad seemed to be in the middle of it.
Unfortunately I can't say anything about the artwork, because the PDF ARC didn't contain artwork, but I'm sure that David Ho's artwork will look beautiful. I've only seen one illustration in the author's Livejournal and it looked stunningly beautiful (click here to see it).
If you've never read any of Laird Barron's stories, this is a good place to start. If you get hooked and want to read more stories, I can highly recommend Barron's two short story collections (The Imago Sequence and Occultation), because they're full of fantastic and fascinating stories.
If you like weird fiction, you must read The Light Is the Darkness. It's essential reading for everybody, who likes weird fiction and literary horror (it's difficult to find better weird fiction, so make sure that you'll read this novella).