Sunday, March 22, 2009

Book: Cage of Night, by Ed Gorman (2008)

When 21-year-old Spence musters out of a stint in the army, he returns home to live with his parents and figure out what’s next. He tags along with his kid brother to a kegger and meets Cindy Brasher, reigning homecoming queen and recent patient at the local mental hospital. Spence falls, hard. And Cindy likes Spence, too, so much so that she wants to share her biggest secret with him. It seems there’s a well out in the woods. And something lives in it ...

Cage of Night is the kind of book that falls through the cracks. In fact, as the introduction by Stephen Gallagher in this PS Publications edition makes clear, it did fall through them when it was first published in the 1990s. It’s part crime novel, part horror story, with a rich strain of melancholy running through it all.

Best of all, Cage is vintage Ed Gorman, written with a feel for small town working class life, where people come home from thankless jobs searching not just for escape but elevation in books and movies. There’s some moving stuff about how it still aches when friendships formed on the most tenuous basis end. And it’s as creepy as all get-out.

The book is an expansion of Ed’s short story “The Brasher Girl,” which wowed me when I encountered it in Different Kinds of Dead. Ed kept the premise but pushed it in another direction. The ending of “Girl” is terrifying. Cage’s denouement is far darker, stripping away any shred of hope. “Girl” is dedicated to Stephen King, Cage to Robert Bloch. The influences are apparent in each. Read both if you can; it makes for quite the literary experiment.

UPDATE: Ed has copies of the Cage of Night collector’s edition available. Act now.

Miscellaneous: Technical Note

I have of late – but wherefore I know not – come under attack by Chinese spammers. Thus, comments are now moderated. Don’t let it hold you back.