I’m hearing a lot about John Hornor Jacobs’ new book, A Lush and Seething Hell. Like, a lot.
Like this starred review from Kirkus:
Two lush, sprawling novellas that are nothing like each other except that they’re both scary as hell… Two spectacular novellas. After a glowing foreword by Jacobs’ fellow fabulist Chuck Wendig, the book launches into “The Sea Dreams It Is the Sky,” a Lovecraft-ian horror story set in a fictionalized South American nation. In it, a young academic named Isabel Certa becomes involved with a famous one-eyed poet named Rafael Avendaño, a cavalier scoundrel who’s heading into a war zone… Then there’s the chill-inducing, artfully paced “My Heart Struck Sorrow,” in which we’re introduced to Cromwell, a librarian from the Library of Congress who specializes in oral tradition [who] accidentally stumbles upon a long-hidden treasure trove of blues recordings from the 1930s… Falling somewhere between House of Leaves (2000) and The Blair Witch Project, it is a terrifying, gothic descent into madness… This book has a fitting title if there ever was one, and these nightmares are worth every penny.
And Sam Reader’s rave review at The Barnes & Noble Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog.
These are short novels filled with strange wonders and horrifying beauty, inviting you into the depths of Jacobs’ prose alongside the characters, who are likewise falling into unfathomable mysteries. The first story, “The Sea Dreams It Is The Sky,” follows a young Literature professor in South America as she reads a manuscript on behalf of an enigmatic poet known as The Eye; the work is accompanied by a disturbing set of photographs that ultimately leads her deep into the turmoil at the heart of the fictional country of Magera, and to the borders of something powerful and terrifying. “My Heart Struck Sorrow follows another academic,” a folklore and music researcher for the Library of Congress tasked with digitizing recordings of Southern music made by his dead predecessor, who encounters a horrifying tale of an ancient evil slipped into a recording of a popular folk song… A Lush and Seething Hell is a fascinating collective work, considering questions of the power of art and the weight of history… an absolute must-read.
Or Sadie Hartmann’s punchy Cemetery Dance review.
“My Heart Struck Sorrow”… this story terrified me. This song that keeps coming up and the strange events that happen after it is sung and listened to — it’s unnerving. .. I loved this novella.
Or this from Jason Heller at NPR.
“The Sea Dreams It Is the Sky” is the novella that comprises the other half of A Lush and Seething Hell… The story revolves around the fictional, fascist-led South American country of Magera, and it involves two Mageran exiles in Spain whose lives become intertwined: a poet named Avendaño and a teacher named Isabel. When Avendaño returns to their home country under mysterious circumstances, Isabel finds a journal of his that points to Opusculus Noctis, a text that — like Lovecraft’s infamous fictional book The Necronomicon — drips with horrible secrets.
There are plenty more where they came from, but I think you get the idea. This is a major book from a fast-rising horror star. Now I just need to decide if I order the hardcover, or the Audible version.
Our previous coverage of John Hornor Jacobs includes a look at his first two Fisk and Shoe novels, The Incorruptibles and Foreign Devils.
A Lush and Seething Hell: Two Tales of Cosmic Horror was published by Harper Voyager on October 8, 2019. It is 384 pages, priced at $19.99 in trade paperback and $12.99 in digital formats. The cover is by Jeffrey Alan Love.
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