This was one of the strangest, most unique cosmic horrors I have read. Viscerally brutal and graphic, Brian Hodge skillfully conveys the existential of terror of pure existence, alongside an all-consuming nihilistic pathos.
Daphne has gone missing and it is up to big brother, Tanner to find her. Yet, Daphne carries far more scars on her soul than she is willing to admit, and neither of them are willing to admit the world as they know it may be ending. All the while a life-altering tragedy that occurred while they were children, haunts them both, although Daphne realizes it never truly left her alone to begin with.
The themes of this novel, truly frame the book in bleak terms. Europa’s disappearance, stars winking out, all of this may give some readers a claustrophobic chill while reading. This is all Hodge’s intention. He wants to destabilize the reader at the very foundations of what we take for granted. Weakening this, there’s a disconcerting temporal sense of the world and greater universe. It matches the increasingly incredulity that Tanner feels as he dives deeper and deeper into the insanity Daphne has found herself in.
Tanner and Daphne are fantastic characters to follow and the pressure of their relationship really comes through. This is also unique to cosmic horror and the genre feels enriched because of this. The fact that human friendships and relationships still matter even in the face of utter despair says something, whether Hodge intended that or not. The story reads quickly and while disturbing is written with attention to the cruel beauty of death and destruction.
Ironically, it’s a lovely little book and recommended to anyone who enjoys horror with a unique voice and thematic choices. It is refreshing to read something that takes the Lovecraft themes and chooses to spin up something entirely other and unique rather than another rehash.