North American Lake Monsters: Stories by Nathan Ballingrud
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This short story collection is very good if you go in with properly set expectations. At least for me, that is. But I didn't know what to expect, either, so I kinda winged it until I got the main feels down.
Atmosphere. This book does atmosphere all kinds of wonderful. :) I've got the redneck feel. I've got the desolation of New Orleans. I've got the howling wind, the drenched autumn air, the nameless feel of dread in the American South. It's fantastic. I feel the pressure.
Nuance. All of the characters have a rather similar vibe to them upon the surface, but that's where it ends. The depth of the differences between all of the men and all of the women and even the monsters had a wealth of things going on below the surface. Kinda like all these personalities are little lakes and what we're finding inside them are the monsters... whether real and supernatural or just the normal kinda of human monster.
Don't expect actual lake monsters. Or not many, anyway.
And don't expect more than general or fairly deep disquietude. There's a few parts that are gross-out cool, but the terror is all within the human heart or the atmosphere. Everything else takes a back seat to our getting into the hearts and minds of people and things that have gone bad or have convinced our MC's to take a dive off the deep end.
It's very human. The stories are extremely human. And dark.
That being said, I really enjoyed them. Nuance is everything. Go in without any expectations or some limited ones like this, and I'm certain that everyone will find something to love in it. :)
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