PHOENIX, Brian A. Hopkins, Terradan Press, $15, 228 pages, ISBN: 9781492101260, reviewed by Barry Hunter.
First of all, I’ve known Brian from chats on Cybling, his writing, and being one of the Coon Hunter (a Martin Zolotow story) and Waders (unpublished at this time) first readers that provided feedback on his work. So I’ve got a sort of vested interest in his writing.
This is his first book in around ten years and it was worth waiting for. It features some stories reprinted from anthology’s he has contributed to, his collaboration with Gene Wolfe (who provides the introduction), and some stories published here for the first time.
Brian is one of those writers that can draw you into the story and immerse you into it with powerful description. Here’s an example from “Black Rider”-“its appearance strikes me as a symbolic scream from Hell, the visual manifestation of an auditory overload, all those billions of souls crying out at once until the landscape becomes the gaping mouthpiece to their torment-but it’s as wide and barren as an ocean, rippling in heat waves to the far horizon where I imagine the clouds sizzle as they touch the red earth.” You can picture this in your mind’s eye and you are drawn in.
“Diving the Coolidge” is dedicated to Dietmar Trommeshauser, who died in 1998 (and another internet friend of mine) and is the story of two divers who find and photograph shipwrecks and the secret of how one of them finds the wrecks. “Black Rider” tells of a motorcycle chase across the desert and what the narrator is actually trying to escape. This is a moving and thoughtful story. “Communion with the Worm” is a Lovecraftian tale of a priest and the Mafioso in Sicily. “The Land of the Awful Shadow’ is a tale of youth that doesn’t turn a blind eye to friendship. “Roadkill” is not what you expect from the title.
“El Dia De Los Muertos”, the Stoker winning story, was previously available in a limited edition is presented here along with “Pieces”. “Eleven Minutes in September”, “Rattler”-with Gene Wolfe, and others fill out this outstanding collection that is for all fans of horror and those who like great writing.
Hopefully, this will not be the last we see from this extremely talented four time Stoker Award winner. It’s available from TerradanPress.com, Amazon and other booksellers.