The Vorrh by Brian Catling
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
I think I was really prepping myself up for this one just a little too much. I wanted to expect lyrical language, and I did get a lot of lyrical language, and I wanted to expect some rather interesting ideas and concepts put together in a poetic way, all the while getting immersed in fantasy and science fiction and a truly heaping helping of the dark stuff, enough to consider the novel as a true horror.
What I did get was quite a few truly beautiful and evocative scenes of robots in a time and memory bending endless forest, an adventure with a bow made of a violently killed woman, lots of exploration in the real world during the early days of photography, socialites, mind-doctors, and a truly enormous amount of graphic and violent sex, sex, sex, and strangely enough, it's mostly the women being violent.
So why not give it a higher rating just for all the interesting ideas and the near-juxtaposition and crossovers between the magical cyborg forest and a modern european town?
Because the story was only able to grab me fitfully. Sometimes, I was fully engaged, and other times, I was just catching myself wondering why I was sitting through these odd photography sex-bondage scenes or watching a truly horrific torture, and while I then reminded myself that this is considered a horror, I then wondered what all the other story bits were doing to improve or engage me in the horror sense.
And then I realized that it's all my fault with cultural expectations that equate love without amazing torture. That true love doesn't necessarily require slow vivisections. Silly me, the yokel.
Like I said, it was hard to connect. It really was beautiful on many levels, to be sure, but it was more like a passing ship in the night followed by the screams of tortured men and the twang of a magical bow. Alas.
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