Thirteen spine-tingling stories of darkness and desolation from Australia's award-winning master of the macabre, Shane Jiraiya Cummings.
The Abandonment of Grace and Everything After is Cummings at his fear-inducing best: from the seductively erotic autopsy of "The Cutting Room" and the insanity of "Ian" through to the post-apocalyptic tragedy of "Phoenix and the Darkness of Wolves."
Imagine a secret from the future that could affect creation itself - a secret so dark, demonic powers would do anything to learn it. Ride a train across the Outback as it descends into a bloodbath. Be entranced by a song that threatens to tear reality apart. Listen for screams only a deaf man can hear ...
With personal afterwords from the author that provide insights into each story, and powerful narratives that explore love, loss, and redemption in the darkest of circumstances, The Abandonment of Grace and Everything After is one of the most significant collections of Australian horror ever published.
Shane Jiraiya Cummings has been acknowledged as "one of Australia’s leading voices in dark fantasy". Shane is the author of the forthcoming Yokai Wars series (Circle of Tears, Clockwork Legion, and Blight of the Underworld) and the dark fiction books The Abandonment of Grace and Everything After, Shards, the Apocrypha Sequence (Deviance, Divinity, Insanity, and Inferno), and the Ravenous Gods cycle (Requiem for the Burning God and Dreams of Destruction). He has won the Australian Shadows Award and two Ditmar Awards, and he has been nominated for more than twenty other major awards, including Spain's Premios Ignotus.
Shane is an Active Member of the Horror Writers Association and former Vice President of the Australian Horror Writers Association. When he is not writing, Shane is an editor and journalist by day. By night (and on weekends), he can be found indulging in hobbies such as playing the guitar, photography, sword fighting, and testing the limits of his new cruiser motorcycle.
In his youth, Shane was trained in the deadly arts of the ninja, and the name Jiraiya (lit. "Young Thunder", after the legendary ninja Jiraiya) was bestowed upon him by his sensei.
Shane was born and raised in Sydney, Australia. He lived for many years in Perth, Western Australia, and Wellington, New Zealand, but he recently returned to his old home town to revisit the ghosts of his past.
More information on Shane (including his free fiction) can be found online at www.jiraiya.com.au.
I should start this review by mentioning that I know the author. Now that's sorted, let's move along.
If the cover doesn't tip you off to the nature of the material inside, the tag line "Dark Fantasy & Desolation" is an unmissable disclaimer. This collection won't be everyone's cup of tea, but if you like your fiction dark and gritty, and aren't too squeamish, then I think this collection is worthy of consideration.
I also think it's fair to say you should expect an uneven level of quality when it comes to any single author collection that spans quite a few years of said author's career. I found this to be the case with 'Abandonment'. The stories that left me cold tended to be the ones that involved desolation (of spirit and/or place) and those involving beautiful people, razor blades and/or metal barbs. I guess I like a little bit more light and hope in my fiction.
On the flip side, the stories that worked best for me were the titular "The Abandonment of Grace and Everything After", "The Song of Prague" and "Sobek's Tears". Each different in their own way, but all intriguing and urging the reader to flip through the pages to arrive at a satisfying conclusion.
At his best, Cummings is an incisive writer that pushes the envelope and is more than capable of eliciting the odd squirm from his readers. I look forward to seeing what he has in store for us next. Keep a few candles burning though...