Published by Word Horde; Edited by Ross E. Lockhart and Justin Steele
Review by Michael Bryant
We are all food. From our birth to well after our death, we serve to nourish other life forms. We who hold ourselves the supreme rulers of this planet—and the only known “intelligent” life form in the universe—are merely food and spawning grounds for the “lower” and older organisms.
This is the truth of Old Leech, Negotium Perambulans in Tenebris (“the pestilence that walketh in darkness”), who loves you.
Such is the nature of the work of Laird Barron, who focuses the template of cosmic horror through a lens of carnivorous savagery. If you have never read Barron’s’ writing, you most certainly should; however, familiarity with his mythos is not required to read the tribute anthology The Children of Old Leech edited by Ross E. Lockhart and Justin Steele.
The book features numerous authors skilled in the art of the weird. While each tale offers a standalone testimony to the love of Leech, together they form a colloquy on the carnivorous cosmos and the terrible beauty of unbridled nature. Think Blackwood with teeth, Lovecraft with brutality, the monstrous and the godly indivisible.
I have dubbed this anthology an “album” for just as music decorates time and stimulates passion, so does this collection paint the temporal cortex with original artwork. Through this beautiful thing, we come to know Old Leech and his love, and move to the warm embrace of his jaws.
Justin Steele sets the tone in the introduction with a desperate yet pointless warning against reading this, the New Testament of Leech. The fool still harbors the delusion of hope, although he seems to know his place and role in service to Leech, but does not yet accept or understand it. No matter, his troubles are over now.
Gemma Files contemplates the underworld and deceit of the light in “The Harrow”. T. E Grau gives us an account of pilgrimage to the fossil ossuary under the mountain in “Love Songs from the Hydrogen Jukebox”. We take communion alongside Richard Gavin in “The Old Pageant”, and rejoice of a young man’s coming to Leech at the end of his quest in Paul Tremblay’s “Notes for The Barn in the Wild”. Daniel Mills thrills us with the opulence of temptation and ultimately seduction, and sends us dancing in Lilith’s embrace in “The Women in the Wood”.
To hear more of the good word, you’ll have to read the book, available in paperback and in e-book formats. Elevations of the spirit and metamorphoses of the flesh will not be possible without the knowledge contained therein, and brother, you’ll need it on the Day of His Coming. So come with me into the deep wood, ascend the mountain to the caverns, and enter to pray before the broken circle. Let us go to find the beautiful thing that awaits us all.
5/5 Infectious Worm Gods