Laird Barron is an American dark fantasy and horror writer. He is the author of The Imago Sequence and Other Stories. He's currently working on a novel, The Croning, which will be published in 2011. His official website can be found here.

Laird Barron's second collection, Occultation and Other Stories, will be published in May 2010 by Night Shade Books. Here's's review of this collection:


Occultation and Other Stories is an amazing collection of different kind of modern horror stories. The stories in this collection range from dark fantasy to horror (or perhaps the best way to describe these stories is to say that they're modern horror stories, which contain dark fantasy elements).

Laird Barron's prose is beautiful, intelligent and sharp. His stories are original, fresh, weird, horrifying, a bit perverse and – above all – extremely fascinating. He writes fluently about different things and doesn't shy away from difficult topics. Good characters are an essential part of a good story and Laird Barron knows this, because his stories feature realistic and believable characters.

Laird Barron's stories are simply amazing, because they contain all the necessary elements a fan of modern horror wants to read about and much more. When I began to read this collection I expected it to be good, but I never thought that I'd like it this much – I have to confess that I love these stories, because weirdness, occultism, sexuality and psychological horror meet in an interesting, irresistible and original way in this collection.

The first story I read from Laird Barron was "The Broadsword". It was first published in S. T. Joshi's fantastic Lovecraftian anthology Black Wings. I loved "The Broadsword" and said to myself that Laird Barron is an author to watch. Now that I've read this collection I can say that he's an excellent and gifted horror writer.

The seductively weird atmosphere of Laird Barron's stories made a huge impression on me and they made me think about certain things. For example, "The Forest" made me think about life and how we experience it and how ignorant we are of what's around us and "Catch Hell" made me think about certain mythological things. This kind of intelligent horror is wonderful entertainment for adult readers.

There's something in Laird Barron's stories which reminds me of Lucius Shepard, Clive Barker, H. P. Lovecraft and other similar writers. I know that he's completely different from these writers, because he has his own voice, but these writes came to my mind when I read his stories. You're free to disagree with me on this, but I think that Laird Barron is almost like a modern equivalent of H. P. Lovecraft, because he writes similar kind of weird and fantastic fiction. The only difference is that he writes modern prose.

Occultation and Other Stories contains an introduction by Michael Shea and the following stories:

  • The Forest
  • Occultation
  • The Lagerstätte
  • Mysterium Tremendum (original to this collection)
  • Catch Hell
  • Strappado
  • The Broadsword
  • --30-- (original to this collection)
  • Six Six Six (original to this collection)

I'm not going to write about all the stories, because I'd probably end up using too many superlatives. Here's some information about certain stories so that you'll be able to see how versatile a writer Laird Barron is:

  • "The Forest": This is a story about Richard Partridge, who visits a New England estate and meets old friends. In my opinion this story shows the reader an interesting vision about the future of mankind.
  • "Occultation": An intriguing story about a couple in a motel room.
  • "Mysterium Tremendum": A fascinating story about a different kind of a road trip.
  • "Catch Hell": In this story a married couple arrives to an idyllic backwoods community, which is almost like something out of Lovecraft's stories.
  • "The Broadsword": This story is without a doubt a modern Lovecraftian masterpiece. It's a surprisingly original story.

It's a bit difficult for me to choose the best stories, because I liked all the stories. If I had to choose only one story, it would probably be "The Broadsword", "Catch Hell" or "The Forest".

Occultation and Other Stories is a perfect collection for all horror readers, who like modern stories, intelligent prose and macabre things – horror fans will love this collection, because the stories are excellent. I think that this collection is a must-read book for everybody who likes H. P. Lovecraft's weird stories.

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars.

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