Publisher’s Comments:With his first collection from Dark Regions Press, W. H. Pugmire continues his radical and obsessive reinterpretations of H. P. Lovecraft’s brilliant fiction. Among the book’s original pieces is the title story, “Gathered Dust,” a sequel to J. Vernon Shea’s “The Haunter of the Graveyard.” Set in Arkham, this tale of utter strangeness concerns the legacy of Randolph Carter and a monstrous burying ground where the phantoms of the past linger so as to feed upon the living. In “Depths of Dreams and Madness” we journey to Pugmire’s Sesqua Valley, wherein we find Lovecraft’s artist, Richard Upton Pickman and Robert E. Howard’s mad poet, Justin Geoffrey, tainted by the valley’s supernatural lunacy. With “These Deities of Rarest Air,” Pugmire continues his exploration of the prose-poem/vignette sequence, in a work that deliciously evokes the mystic aura of not only Lovecraft but Clark Ashton Smith as we ll. With artful decadence and a pen dipped into the dark fin-de-siècle poetry of Oscar Wilde and Charles Baudelaire, Pugmire celebrates his beloved genre of fantastic fiction with works that only his cracked skull could conceive. Jeffrey Thomas has provided a provocative Introduction.
Dear readers and fellow devotees of the weird and horrorific,
First, let me tell you how good it feels to “break the silence” that has fallen over She Never Slept as of late. Things have been brewing and churning in our cauldron, of that you can be sure; and we’ll soon be posting new columns, reviews, and interviews.
But enough of my jawing — on to the review!
It is with mixed emotions that I introduce this next review, for the author is a man dear to my heart, and the reviewer was not as fond of his work as I am. But professionalism shall ever overtake personal feelings, and we don’t play favorites here at She Never Slept.
So with a sad smile to my friend Mr. Wilum Hopfrog Pugmire, Esq.; but a proud nod to our reviewer for a job well-done, I give you Heather Royston’s honest and thoughtful review of W.H. Pugmire’s newest collection of short tales, “Gathered Dust and Others”.
After having read Jeffery Thomas‘s introduction to “Gathered Dust and Others” by W. H. Pugmire, I was intrigued about the author; he seemed to have one hell of a back story. And while I have read only a little Lovecraft (I know, I know! I’m working on that) I did enjoy it so I was optimistic about an author that wrote in the same vein. Well, Mister Willum Hopfrog Pugmire goes well beyond the same vein — he hits the artery. However, bad things have a tendency to happen when you hit an artery, and sometimes art imitates life.
The book opens with the titular tale “Gathered Dust.” This was one of the authors attempts to write directly in the world of Lovecraft. That much at least he accomplished; but the entire thing felt contrived, like a desperate effort to be a good disciple. I did love the imagery of the old Gothic mansion, however; it was full of macabre paraphernalia collected by a television horror host. I would love to live in a home like that.
The next story, “Your Kiss of Corruption,” actually made me get up from my chair and shout in indignation. Not only was I not enjoying the story, but the author used a phrase that just made my blood boil. I had to look up the word “manumitted” (by the way, the author does get points for that, which doesn’t happen often) but he paired it with the word “tits,” which I just couldn’t stomach. I completely understand the statement he was trying to make with that phrase, but I just found it to be ridiculous and unwarranted.
As the book went on it did improve, though. The one page short “The Boy with the Bloodstained Mouth” invoked some creepy images of its title character. “Bloom of Sacrifice” really gave way to Pugmire’s own voice while remaining steadfast in the Weird Fiction genre. “Cool Mist” was another great one — so great in fact that I felt the chill of the waterfront where it took place. “Depths of Dreams and Madness,” with its shifting narratives, was probably the best (and most coherent) story in the collection.
Perhaps it’s just a matter of taste, but I found “Gathered Dust and Others” to be about evenly split between absolute stinkers and stories that are actually worth reading. In any case, W.H. Pugmire has some real talent, and I for one feel it would be better spent writing something totally original instead of squandering it by committing to another man’s voice. I give “Gathered Dust and Others” Two out of Five tentacles, with hope to see better in the future.
Heather Royston, Minion/Reviewer