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Wednesday, June 16, 2021

BOOM: A Lovecraftian Urban Fantasy Thriller Kindle Edition by Ben Farthing

Reminder: Ben Farthing's ebook, The Piper's Graveyard: A Small-Town Cult Horror Thriller Suspense, is on sale at 99 cents. I haven't yet read it.

Ben Farthing demonstrated his worth as a writer by having a story come in second in the Baen Fantasy Adventure Award. 

Last year, I encountered Farthing's first book, Boom--extremely strange, in the best sense of the term. If you like weird, chances are you'll like it. Read the excerpt first. If you're enchanted, then buy the ebook. Its speculative invention starts strong and barrels toward the finish. 

The story follows Everard Harrison, a resident of the D.C. metro area, pulls his truck to a stop to help a woman who appears to be in distress. He is presently unaware of his latent supernatural abilities until they fall upon him when threatened by others who have long been using theirs:

She breathed in deep gasps. Not crying--hyperventilating. 
"Hey, are you all right?" A stupid question.

He spotted a scrap of paper next to her that she must have dropped. He picked it up and touched her shoulder. She looked up. Her expression wasn't panic, but exhaustion, like she'd just run a marathon. Sweat beaded on her skin and glistened in her hair. She was slender, slightly older than Everard--probably mid-thirties--and gorgeous despite the blemishes across her cheek....

It wasn't acne, or age spots, or scars. It was a swarm of holes, moving both together and independently like a school of fish. Each deep enough to show teeth or bone, but instead only revealing pink flesh descending into shadow....

The holes glided over her face, over--oh, God--over her eyes, her open eyes, tiny fleshy pits slipping along whites and blues and irises. He should run. That what he should do, and he would, as soon as he could figure out what was going on with her skin.

It's interesting the author slapped a lot of labels on to clue readers into what they'd be in for: Lovecratian, thriller, urban fantasy, horror. He removed the label, but it did have a super-hero label as well. They are all useful guide posts to what's inside, but still inadequate. If you like non-stop break-neck thrillers that make it hard for you to catch your breath, this could be a good fit. 

I'd offer Roger Zelazny as a stronger comparison, more so than Lovecraft (though the design of the creatures that populate this realm share something of the Lovecraftian spirit). We have a protagonist who has forgotten, had his memory wiped, or somehow never knew of his connection to the strange inner world that operates beneath our own.

Because of its pacing, I almost failed to notice the deeper political significance of the work, situated as it is in the Washington D.C. vicinity. So it also offers some intellectual entertainment for those who like that sort of thing, but obviously without overbearing or overwhelming the work--subtly done.

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