The allure of the cosmic horror genre has sunk its creepy claws (or tentacles?) into my reading habits. The origins of my new obsession stems from watching Jordan Peele’s recent horror/sci-fi feature Nope a few weeks ago, during a visit home by my chef brother. He lives and cooks in California, and though our favourite bonding activities mostly include loud music, liquor and food, I relished in the opportunity to watch the film in theatres with him, and a group of childhood boys, – right click, saving it to my cache of wholesome family memories. Excellent performance by Keke Palmer (and searing debut by Brandon Perea), but my main takeaway is the creature. Evolve the idea of Nope‘s Jean Jacket creature into Biblically accurate representations of the angels. Cross those titanic beasts over to a more Lovecraftian aesthetic. Backed by my Bloodborne experience early this 2022, and a burgeoning seed of a fiction in my creatives bones, cosmic horror has arrived front and central into my fall.
I’ll admit, after tearing my back muscles from my #HotGirlsUmmer, I think we can start a new seasonal chapter.
After much Instagram sleuthing, I recently visited a new horror bookstore in Toronto’s Trinity Bellwoods area. Little Ghosts is an adorable upstart for the spook-inclined; accompanied by a creamy latte and a salted chocolate cookie, my shopping experience was cozy and curated. The ghosts have stocked the shelves with a healthy selection of horror, curving out into Vandermeerian sci-fi, nostalgic R.L. Stine’s bibliography, and Japanese yokai, amongst other horror subgenres. I picked up Lovecraft’s The Call of Cthulhu and Other Weird Stories and Koji Suzuki’s Ring (hesitant but immensely curious, because of my teenage fear of Samara, from the American 2000’s reinterpretation). I assure you, whenever I meander through the streets of Queen Street West, Little Ghosts is now added as a pit stop. I simply must take advantage of their backyard reading patio.
I’d been reading rumblings on Reddit about John Langan’s The Fisherman. Considering my penchant for sharks, whales and all things astonishingly large in the ocean, by title alone this novel seemed right up my alley. I was correct in my assumption, and thankful that I got the experience of purchasing it physically at Little Ghost. I could have ordered the thing off of Amazon, but the tangibility of shopping is one of my favourite joys.
For those looking for an intimate evaluation of loss and grief, through a cosmic horror meets behemoth lens, Langan delivers. Following the story of Abe, who reels from the death of wife, and then of Dan, widowed and orphaned from the fatal car accident of his own wife and two children, The Fisherman swims in themes of grief unspoken, grief unaddressed, grief consuming. The story Inceptions into another story, this one of the history of the Ashokan Reservoir, where Abe and Dan pass the time on their grief with fishing habits. Rest assured, the cosmic horror element is there, and it’s form is both familiar and unchallenged. Highly recommend, and am also on the lookout for more novel aquatic horror.
“Summer Readings 2022, a mixtape” for Windhill Journal
The Call of Cthulhu, and Other Weird Stories by H.P. Lovecraft
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