So, I supported Gehenna & Hinnom Books during their kickstarter campaign last year and I subscribed to their Hinnom magazine through that. I was terribly excited to get my first issue and boy did it not disappoint. I have only read a few stories here and there from them previously, but I wasn’t totally prepared for a full fledged issue. If you love cosmic horror or just the down right weirdness, then look no further than Hinnom, this is a must read for any and all weird/cosmic horror aficionados.
In issue #10, we have an interview with Max Booth III, which was fun and informative to his process, while a review of his new book, Carnivorous Lunar Activities has me curious enough to add it to my TBR list. The guest article by Melissa Burkley was also great, and is chock full of helpful advice, especially to the budding writer. The book review of John Langan’s newest, Sefira & Other Betrayals, sounds decent and one to check out as well. The movie review of Us, only confirmed further that I need to see this film after missing out on it in theaters. All reviews were well written and done by Lisa Quigley. Oh, and I can’t leave out the startling cover art done by Dave Dick.
Anyway, getting to the fiction and poetry, which is the real meat of this issue, I was amazed(and chilled) by the sheer quality of writing. These writers are the real deal and clearly C. P. Dunphey, the esteemed editor-in-chief, has a high bar and rightly so. Cosmic horror is hard to pull off and it’s even harder to unsettle the reader with something weird and though I’m a newish reader of this genre, it can take a lot for me to take a breather, but several of these stories forced me to.
“Its Eyes Are Open” by Ben Thomas
Ben Thomas’ story is told in the classic diary format found in the cosmic horror tradition, and details an anthropologist’s descent into insanity. Saying more would ruin the tension, but let’s just say Thomas spun a tale that made me put the mag down for the night. Being set in Malaysia and Madagascar was unique, even though the diary’s retelling dealt mostly with the jungle adventure the anthropologists go on. It is a truly off-putting story to begin with, but sets high expectations for the rest of the issue.
“Margaret Lets Her Self Go” by Samantha Bryant
Margaret is attempting to find a way to leave her mortal shell and join the People. The Others are coming for her and will try and stop her. This story is a terribly tragic, but intimate tale that still has the right slice of macabre to unsettle even the sternest of readers. Bryant does a marvelous job with keeping us unsure of what is going on, while still dropping small hints of what lays beyond. The sheer personal tragedy that fills Margaret, while she is convinced to have transformed herself is both disturbing and strangely moving all at the same time, especially with her small reflections of “before.” A wonderfully sad story.
“Split Through the Sky” by Lena Ng
Lena Ng holds nothing back with a story full of horrific imagery, forbidden books(that will literally kill you), and occult knowledge. This story has a slow start as the main character is haunted by spirits and demons, but it begins to ramp up as they delve into their heritage and everything begins to come part rapidly as the story arcs towards it’s climax. The pacing is done so so well and leaves nothing out of place nor anything to slow it down once it gets going. The atmosphere of the story is thick and rife with black magic and otherworldly horrors. Ng is clearly a writer who knows this genre inside and out.
“Serncia, or: The Amours of Death” by Scott J. Couturier
Couturier’s poetic skill is clear here in this five stanza poem. With everything that is unsaid in this, he manages to paint a terribly, bleak story of Sernicia, who evaded Death’s pursuits. Beautifully laid out and structured, it is one that will be re-read over and over.
“Call Me By My Name” by Marge Simon & Alessandro Manzetti
Simon and Manzetti have written a rather brief, but powerful poem filled with both scorn and loss. It leaves a lot to imagine and even to reinterpret, which I will not enforce one here, but it leaves a certain palette cleansing for the reader after emerging from the previous works.