Harlem Smoke

by James Champagne
Release date: January 2019
Type: speculative fiction
Genres: horrorweird fiction

A gay, black antinatalist, Isaac Grimalkin isn’t your typical H.P. Lovecraft fan. Back in 1996 Isaac was the sole member of the Dunwich Posse, an experimental Lovecraftian horrorcore hip-hop act that released Harlem Smoke, a groundbreaking album chronicling the gruesome exploits of its titular monster. But when his album began to inspire real-life copycat crimes, Isaac abandoned his musical career at the height of his fame.

Flash-forward to 2015. Once again living in the city of Providence, Rhode Island, Isaac, now 38, has reinvented himself as a Pickman-esque painter of the morbid and the macabre. He wishes to forget his past; but his life gradually takes a hellish descent when an interview with a music magazine resurrects public interest in the Dunwich Posse. Meanwhile, local women are being murdered in a variety of grotesque scenarios that seem directly inspired by the lyrics of Isaac’s old, cursed album. As police suspicion mounts, Isaac begins investigating his family’s sinister history, in search of answers for just who (or what) the elusive Harlem Smoke actually is: an interior quest that could lead to his own annihilation.

Set in a social realist modern-day Providence where paradoxical dimensions of cosmic horror are only a stone’s throw away, Harlem Smoke is a creative re-imagining of the artistic potentialities of the Lovecraftian novel.

(updated 2019-02-27)

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