To Another Abyss by Zach Barlett is an entertaining mix of high art culture, Lovecraftian kitsch, and humor. He sent me a copy of this book for review and I have to say, this was a truly genre subverting read.
Following a somewhat stuffy, but insecure art gallery owner, Greg Withers and his punky counter part Decca, they agree to support an indie filmmaker, who rubs both of them wrong. Their fears are confirmed when during the first day of shooting, an Elder God is summoned by accident to the set. On top of it all, this eldritch horror has creative ambitions of it’s own and an opinion of art to rival the smuggest critic. Greg and Decca will have to figure out how to send this creature back to where it came from before it drives their college town and the rest of Pioneer valley mad.
This story was a lot of fun, which given the subject matter, is quite a feat. Barlett’s tone has palpable smirks running through it as he laughs at college towns, the art scene, and leftist academics. Yet, he does this with almost self-deprecating flair, considering he, himself used to live in the same area as our characters in the Northeast. The banter between Greg and Decca is sharp and quick and among other characters it takes on a full-bodied wit, which tells us that Barlett managed to flesh out his characters well.
The subversion of Lovecraft’s mythos into humor may horrify some aficionados in their own right. To Another Abyss is highly appealing to those with less “elite” tastes given the unique blend of genres and cultural critique Barlett intends offers us. The idea of an Elder God wanting to “break into” the art scene is kind of incredible and it’s pretty rare to come across that kind of originality, especially in humor where the familiar must be poked in order to engender a laugh. And this is to say the story is rife with not just a small does of irony.
For all its strengths, the story does take some time with getting the setup going and may leave the reader wondering when the literary art talk ends and the pulpy snafu begins, but once it does, it does not let up for one moment as Greg and the rest struggle to not only comprehend the extra-dimensional horror, but figure out a way to preserve the gallery itself.
Hoping to see more from Barlett in the future, this is not a story to sleep on or miss.