I've seen the name Kevin Lucia dance through my feed on quite a few occasions, so it was with mild interest I heard about the release of his new collection of stories through Brian Keene's The Horror Show podcast and decided to give it a shot.
And I'm glad I did.
Lucia here collects four novella length tales that are presented via a wrap-around tale much like the quality anthology movies of old. All the stories take place in and around Lucia's small town creation of Clifton Heights. Though the wrap-around only really provides the context and can't be considered a story in its own right, it does seem to have allusions to early works by Lucia - though I will have to check that out when I inevitably go on the hunt for his back catalogue. And hunt I shall, because this is a quality collection of tales: Three of which I found to very good to excellent, with just the one falling into the category of average.
Commencing with SUFFER THE CHILDREN COME UNTO ME, Through a Mirror, Darkly sets itself as a slow-burn of a horror collection that eschews blood and gore for slight chills down the spine. That sensibility remains through Lucia's second tale, YELLOW CAB, which for mine was the most disturbing of the lot - a dark, unsettling read that implies a great deal before finally spelling out the central mystery and allowing the full consequences of that to take root in the reader's mind. The third tale, ADMIT ONE, was my least favourite, but served to further cement the link between the stories being the mythical city of Carcosa. This one was a little long and too light on the horror to really be effective for me. But Lucia more than made up for it with his final tale, AND I WATERED IT, WITH TEARS. This was a very effective chiller that was probably the most familiar of the tales, but only until the real pathos underlying the events comes to light.
If Through a Mirror, Darkly is any indication, Lucia is an quality new writer who excels playing in the sandbox left behind by some of the grand masters of horror, Charles L Grant included. His prose is top notch, his characterisations the core of his work, and his horror is of the most disquieting kind. I very much look forward to reading more of his work and would strongly recommend fans of more subtle horror do the same.
3.5 Mysteriously Appearing Journals for Through a Mirror, Darkly.