Few books really nail the mythic scope of Lovecraft, but John Langan’s THE FISHERMAN, goes far deeper, while the tentacles of cosmic horror writhes around it.
Oh and it should be noted it won the 2016 Bram Stoker for best novel!
Following Abe and Dan, two widowers, who have found one another’s love for fishing a place of fellowship, are lured by a mysterious creek. In upstate New York, there is the Dutchman’s Creek, which flows from the Ashokan Reservoir, only not many have heard of this creek and the few that have…there’s nothing good that comes from it. Soon, the two men find themselves amidst a story that is similar to their own in tragedy, but far more fantastical and dark. It will only lead them ever deeper to face what they have lost and ask if they are willing to pay whatever price to reclaim it.
Langan’s tale is a heady old story within a story, but one that claims a far reaching, epic scope that traces threads to the “old country” and reaches to the modern day. The connecting bits of these stories can become a bit tenuous at times and once the reader becomes wrapped up in the folk myth at the heart of this book, you forget about the story that enfolds it. It takes a master storyteller to pull off such nested stories such as this and THE FISHERMAN as established that I will be returning to Langan’s work in the future.
Abe is a great character and the great literary style that is present in this prose lends itself well to how this vulnerability plays out. You forget that this book is a horror novel, which works so well, since that false sense of security pays off in a very real way later. The idea of loss is very real and very painful, Langan hammers this in and having lost a loved on myself, the pain that Abe feels is real and true.
The Lovecraftish elements are surprisingly muted through some of this and you have to really look for it, but overall Langan does a fantastic job making the myths his own and does so to great effect. In some ways, he takes on more of the work of the cosmic horror genre and leans full force with the immensity of far greater things that humanity has no conception of.
Either way, this is not a book to miss, just maybe don’t put your feet in the water. especially after having won the 2016 Bram Stoker. Don’t