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To Rouse Leviathan

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Since the turn of the twenty-first century, Matt Cardin has distinguished himself by writing weird fiction with a distinctively cosmic and spiritual focus. Inspired by H. P. Lovecraft and Thomas Ligotti, Cardin explores the convergence of religion, horror, and art in a cosmos that may be actively hostile to our species. In this substantial volume, Cardin gathers the totality of his short fiction.

In tales long and short, some substantially revised from their original appearances and including a new novella co-written with Mark McLaughlin, Cardin rings a succession of changes on those fateful words from the Book of Job: “Let those sorcerers who place a curse on days curse that day, those who are skilled to rouse Leviathan.”

Aside from his fiction, Matt Cardin is the editor of Born to Fear: Interviews with Thomas Ligotti (2014) and Horror Literature through History (2015), and co-editor of the journal Vastarien.

315 pages, Kindle Edition

First published August 1, 2019

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About the author

Matt Cardin

33 books121 followers
Matt Cardin is a writer, pianist, and Ph.D. living in North Arkansas. He writes frequently about the intersection of religion, horror, creativity, and the supernatural.

His books include What the Daemon Said, To Rouse Leviathan, and A Course in Demonic Creativity: A Writer’s Guide to the Inner Genius. His editorial projects include Horror Literature through History and Born to Fear: Interviews with Thomas Ligotti (2014). His work has been nominated for the World Fantasy Award, long-listed for the Bram Stoker Award, and praised by Publishers Weekly, Kirkus Reviews, Library Journal, Asimov's Science Fiction, Thomas Ligotti, and others. His newsletter is Living into the Dark .

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 55 reviews
Profile Image for Jon.
Author 45 books443 followers
August 7, 2019
In 1996, a remarkable omnibus was published by Caroll & Graf: The Nightmare Factory, by horror author Thomas Ligotti. It contained three volumes of Ligotti’s work to date plus an additional volume featuring revelatory, new stories that had never been collected. The book, long out of print, remains a gem of horror fiction that few others can rival.

Now, in the late Summer of 2019, at least one omnibus is worthy to sit on the shelf next to Ligotti’s tome: To Rouse Leviathan, by another remarkable, singular author, Matt Cardin. As with The Nightmare Factory, Cardin’s book presents material both old and new, all of which impresses with the author’s world-class intellect, creativity, and prose craftsmanship. And this is no mere sampling of Cardin’s formidable skills and talent. This is a multi-course feast, a table brimming over with sumptuous, dark masterpieces of theologically infused cosmic horror, psychological terror, and bizarre, intimate character studies and confessions. To Rouse Leviathan is a book to experience, to study, to marvel at, and — in those exquisite, uneasy moments in which we keenly feel we are part of Cardin’s terrifying fictional world — to live in.
Profile Image for Andy .
447 reviews68 followers
May 14, 2020
These are deeply philosophical stories of a cosmic bent, but Cardin brings along a uniquely theological angle. These stories point to interpretations of religion not as a soothing fantasy as it's typically seen as in cosmic horror, but as something that has been misinterpreted, which in fact can reveal dark truths about our place in the universe and the malevolent God that rules it, if we dare to look.

I was underwhelmed by this collection and expecting better. There's little middle ground for me with these stories. There's a handful I thought were masterpieces, a few I thought were average, and a large chunk of them just weren't for me. My main problem with these was the philosophy was just too overt; I find it more effective when the philosophy is implied by what happens in the story, remains a little fuzzy and doesn't take up as much overall space. Other stories just didn't end well or I didn't warm up to the setting and mood. Or perhaps I've just read too much fiction of this type over the years.

The first section of stories "Divinations of the Deep" has some good moments, but the only stories I really liked were "An Abhorrence to All Flesh" and "If It Had Eyes." In the second section "Nightmares, Imported and Domestic" and "The God of Foulness" are the obvious highlights. In the final section "Chimeras & Grotesqueries" was the best I thought.

PART ONE Divinations of the Deep

An Abhorrence to All Flesh - I liked this story, it has some nice creepy moments that bring to mind some of the Victorian-era ghost story authors at their best. I also like the theological angle which is used in the service of cosmic horror themes. There's even some decent body horror moments! A man goes to a party hosted by a wealthy friend where he learns of a strange Christian sect.

Notes of a Mad Copyist - I liked this one, although not as much as the first tale. It's full of vivid cosmic description, but perhaps a bit too much at times. A monk scribe discovers a blasphemous enlightenment.

The Basement Theater - I really liked the setup to this story, but it kinda trails off into a mildly interesting vignette. A man visits a strange theater where the director insists he is a part, whether he likes it or not.

If It Had Eyes - I really loved the MOOD of this one, I think it was my second favorite from this first section of stories in fact. This one feels very much like a Lovecraftian story, but takes an interesting direction. An artist living by the sea seeks to merge himself with the encroaching fog, which he sees as a living entity.

Judas of the Infinite - This story more or less summarizes the overall philosophy of the previous stories in a succinct way. A homeless man lies miserably on a sidewalk, conversing with God about the dark abyss which has taken over his faith.

PART TWO Dark Awakenings

Teeth - Although this story was a bit too philosophy-focused for me I enjoyed it. It approaches many very familiar themes in weird fiction, in fact it is a great example of the "cosmic horror realization" story, complete with a cursed (note)book, but it still managed to surprise me a few times. A college friend gives a man a notebook he has composed that reveals the truth of man's place in the universe along with a mandala which literally threatens to swallow him whole.

The Stars Shine without Me - This story has some great moments and description, and I did like the corporate horror element but the end for me just went up in a puff of smoke. A man who works at a large, faceless corporation, doing nothing but staring out the window soon learns he plays an important role in a much larger scheme.

Desert Places - This is one of the better ones, it has some slow moments, but has an interesting take on the cosmic theme and the ending is so good, very well-written. There also seems to be a antinatalist life/anti-life theme which is interesting. A man returns to his small hometown to visit a friend and his wife in the hospital. It's a bittersweet reunion because he was in love with her and her husband was his best friend, now the wife has a strange plan to bring her husband back from the brink of death.

Blackbrain Dwarf - This is certainly one of the weirdest stories in this book, and among my least favorites. The theme seems to be an alternate dimension overlapping with ours, causing horror and chaos (??). A man finds himself lapsing into hallucinations, and seems to be losing control of his body.

Nightmares, Imported and Domestic - This one made me say, "WOW." Some sections of this story are better than others and it didn't catch me at first, but what it seeks to do and ultimately does achieve is very impressive. One of the best in the collection. An artist observes the life of a dull average man in his dreams. Soon their realities begin to overlap and he has a plan to merge them and achieve a new level of enlightenment.

The Devil and One Lump - This story is OK, a sort of tongue-in-cheek tale about a writer regaining his ability to write after a bargain with the Devil. Not among my favs.

The God of Foulness - This is probably my favorite piece on the whole book, a novella-length masterpiece of philosophical horror. The description is excellent, the overall idea is fairly original. It's also a compellingly told, compulsive read. A reporter investigates a strange cult that views the sicknesses of the body as a gateway to the one true God.

PART THREE Apocryphon

Chimeras & Grotesqueries - I liked this one a lot, very wild, unhindered, unpredictable and horrific. It reminds me of Matthew Bartlett's bizarre horrors. A homeless man is alone in how he views the increasingly strange events in the city around him.

Prometheus Possessed - This was an OK story, a minor one I thought, but then I'm generally not a fan of this sort of futuristic/dystopian weird fiction. In a perfectly ordered, utopian society it has become necessary to treat and eradicate "psychic disorders."

The New Pauline Corpus - This is a sort of synthesizing of Cardin's underlying philosophical points into a somewhat short story. Probably the most explicitly Lovecraftian story. In a world consumed by Lovecraftian chaos, the reinterpretation of religion has begun to make it fit with current reality.

A Cherished Place at the Center of His Plans, with Mark McLaughlin - This is a near-novella length story, and it's quite good. I felt that some parts were a bit too explicit in their presentation of supernatural elements, at least compared with other stories here. This one reminded me a bit of Simon Strantzas wonderful story "Emotional Dues" also about a struggling artist and a weird patron, which I recall well even though I read it over five years ago. An artist agrees to complete a final painting in a series of a strange patron who asks him to work in his secluded estate.
Profile Image for James.
Author 11 books106 followers
August 26, 2019
It has been many a moon, over a lustrum in fact, since I have last read a collection of Matt Cardin fiction (the first one I read, DARK AWAKENINGS, was back in 2010, while in 2013 I read DIVINATIONS OF THE DEEP), so it was a pleasure to read this new omnibus and revisit many of those prior tales, though the final four that make up the "Apocryphon" portion of the present collection were all new to me. Before I say anything further I just want to say that, in a genre where one can easily think of many cringe-worthy examples of poor/laughably bad cover art, this book is exceptionally well-designed, with a lovely and surrealistic cover illustration by Michael Hutter. And certainly there were many stories in this book that could be considered classics of the genre, such as "The God of Foulness," "An Abhorrence to All Flesh," and "Teeth" (incidentally, in regards to that latter story, when I come across such descriptions as "...a nightmare abyss of endless teeth, a fanged and insatiable cosmic gullet," it instantly makes me envision the Sarlaac pit from STAR WARS as dreamed up by a literary nihilist).

It's obvious that Mr. Cardin is highly skilled at the art and execution of the horror story. Actually, I would say maybe a little TOO skilled, as I found some aspects of the book quite disturbing, and in some cases a few stories left me with a bad taste in my mouth ("Nightmares, Incorporated and Domestic" springs to mind in this regard, as well-written as it is). To clarify, when it comes to writers such as Ligotti or Lovecraft I find their dissections of cosmic pessimism more palatable because, with a few odd exceptions, it's very hard to care all that much about the fates of the characters involved. But because the stories within TO ROUSE LEVIATHAN tend to focus a bit more on developed characters, I find myself wishing they could avoid their grisly fates. That's an admittedly personal problem (if you can even call it that) that I've come to feel in regards to weird fiction/horror (both as a writer and a reader of it), where it's almost taken for granted that the main characters of such stories will either end up going mad, getting killed, committing suicide, being transformed into something horrid, cast into hell for all eternity, and so on and so forth, by the time the tale has reached its conclusion. One could almost say it's a requirement of the genre, in much the same way that a money shot of some sort is expected in porn. This was something that didn't bother me as much when I was a young man, but which I have begun to feel more keenly as I've grown older... I guess you could say that damnation is a young man's game whereas as one gets older one starts to gravitate more towards redemption and salvation (this is one reason why the more darkly comical and somewhat lightweight "The Devil and One Lump" was actually one of my favorite stories here, in that, without giving too much away, the narrator's final fate wasn't THAT bad, all things considered).

Speaking as a failed "theologian" (as there was once a time where I desired to be to theology what Lady Gaga was to pop music), while I'm glad that Mr. Cardin does not hesitate to incorporate themes of theology in his work, along with examinations of the darker side of the mainstream religions (generally speaking, it's far more common for horror writers to focus on the dark side of occultism and witchcraft), I would say that, with the exception perhaps of "The New Pauline Corpus," his artistic interest seems to reside more in the Old Testament, and I'm a New Testament kind of guy. At the risk of sounding pithy/reductionist, if you can reduce Poe to ravens, Machen to his "Little People," Lovecraft to tentacles, Ligotti to puppets, and Mark Samuels to Black Mould, I would say that Matt Cardin= Biblical Chaos Monsters. But you can do a lot worse than Biblical Chaos Monsters! In any event, this book is recommended reading for connoisseurs of cosmic horror.
Profile Image for Vicente Ribes.
662 reviews94 followers
January 23, 2020
Fantástica colección de relatos. Matt Cardin se erige como un digno sucesor de Ligotti y Lovecraft en esta antología. Sus influencias son palpables pero Cardin añade su propio estilo mezclando la religión, la paranoia y el terror en una colección de relatos imprescindible.
El nivel de casi todos los cuentos y pequeñas novelas de este libro es muy alto pero destacaría los siguientes:

“The Basement Theater”: Donde un hombre visita frequentemente el sótano de un teatro sin saber el motivo que le lleva allí y de donde sale cambiado después de cada visita.

"If it had eyes": Un pintor descubre una misteriosa niebla que el resto de la gente no parece ver. Esta niebla va apoderándose de él poco a poco.

"Teeth": Lovecraftiana historia donde un genio se vuelve loco leyendo unos escritos en la universidad.

"The stars shine without me": Me recordó mucho a Ligotti. Un hombre trabaja en una empresa en una ciudad de pesadilla. No sabe ni de que trabaja ni porque pero un dia un misterioso jefe lo llamará a su presencia.

"Nightmares , Imported and Domestic With Mark McLaughlin": El relato que más me ha gustado. Un pintor sueña a menudo con la vida de otro hombre. Este otro hombre conseguirá la manera de conectar ambos mundos y entrar en la vida del soñador.

"The god of foulness": Un hombre investiga una cadena de sucesos donde está implicada una secta que no cree en la medicina. Que cree que las dolencias se han de soportar porque eso les acerca más a su dios.

"A Cherished Place at the Center of His Plans" : Un pintor que ha realizado una serie de extraños cuadros recibe la oferta de un millonario para acabar esa serie de lienzos con una nueva obra maestra. El pintor descubrirá que la inspiración le viene de un extraño ser. El extraño ser me recordó bastante a Hastur, el rey de amarillo.

Por cierto, los lectores en español estan de enhorabuena porque pronto el libro será publicado por la editorial Dilatando mentes.

Profile Image for Carson Winter.
Author 16 books36 followers
September 23, 2019
Thomas Ligotti has become a titan of the genre due to his unique vision and stylistic adeptness. Much is made of his pessimism, but I believe that it's only one piece of the puzzle. Yes, The Conspiracy Against the Human Race lays out a wicked tract against life itself, but what is alluring to me is not what it says about the world, but what it says about its author. Since his inception into the horror mainstream, many have come around to his outlook—imbuing their works with corporate horror, academic chatter, screaming-void pessimism, and puppets. Lots of puppets. These are wonderful additions to the genre, but they miss what is truly so great about the author: that he is an original. He is read for the same reasons Harlan Ellison, Vladimir Nabokov, or Raymond Chandler are read—because of an idiosyncratic individuality. It lends considerable weight behind the question "why do we read?" It's our own magnetic empathy living vicariously through another's mind. So yes, I love Ligotti, but just as I love seeing any author present in their works, contorting between the lines.

Matt Cardin works in a similar vein, with a similarly pessimistic perspective. To Rouse Leviathan is a collection of his short fiction, which until now, I had been unaware. The hardcopy features some incredibly gorgeous cover art, and within it are stories that I would tentatively call theological horror. If that brings to mind The Exorcist, I'm sorry—because this is truly miles away. It's academic in the same way Lovecraft aspired, and Ligotti honed into a serio-comic voice, treating religion with all the grandeur and sublimity it deserves and then leaning into that awe to uncover the emotional truth inherent. This truth being, of course, that shit is very, very scary.

To Rouse Leviathan is a wonderful read where Cardin's own interests in theology help to separate himself from the pack, while also providing a fertile playground for his expertise. This could make for a dry read, but Cardin is a great storyteller as well. His characters are drawn quickly and effectively, with enough unique characterization, that they never fall in the trap of sounding or feeling like the author's private collection of ventriloquist dummies.

The stories themselves are also fast-paced and highly readable while remaining erudite and numinous. As much as I love Ligotti and his ilk, I also have a huge affection for the craftsman's of the genre—folks like Richard Matheson who know the mechanics of story so well that a fine result is just one gear turn away—and reading this collection, I was often impressed by how well these stories commanded my interests. For all their interesting takes on religion and pessimism, they all have, at their hearts, hooks sharp enough to get caught on.

To Rouse Leviathan is superb, personal work with craft to spare. Highly recommended.
112 reviews2 followers
March 25, 2023
This used to be one of my favorite books, but I don't really understand why I liked it anymore, at least as much as I did. I technically DNFd it this time around; I stopped halfway through.

All the philosophical, theological, and mythological themes I praised in my old review are present and cool, but they are almost too present. The stories will literally namedrop the philosophers and outline the exact idea that creates the philosophical connection. There will be extended passages of theological exposition, some where this even constitutes a large part of the story's drama.

I guess what I mean is that it feels like Matt Cardin is violating "show, don't tell." Obviously, given the subject matter, this is extremely difficult, but not impossible because he's done it well in To Rouse Leviathan. The first story is a good example of him generally succeeding.

I also didn't realize how much the connections in theme and plot sustain the book because the stories drop in quality without this thread running through them.

It's still enjoyable to a large extent. The first few stories are genuinely cool, but I don't think I can keep the book at the high rating it was previously.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Sakib.
98 reviews28 followers
February 22, 2020
It's an overwhelming book- an elegant and profound hybrid of theology, ontology, religion and mythology; all of these elements condensed to produce one of the best outcomes in weird fiction and horror, unique in every way.

Cover of To Rouse Leviathan

I believe it covers the entirety of the author's work, spanning more than a decade. Some pieces have been significantly revised and polished for this very collection. Isn't that juicy?!

First let me start by saying this that Matt Cardin is one of those current and active authors whose fiction Mr. Thomas Ligotti himself enjoys very much, as he said in his interviews several times. So, there you go. If you find Ligotti a genius and visionary and enjoy his works, this should suffice enough about Matt's capability.

Matt's prose is beautiful. This is among two of the most delicious aspects of his writings that I've been able to discern; it's like an eyeful of blissful panorama (pardon me for such an analogy but you'll get I mean), which is at the same time brutal and pleasingly suffocating with the suspense that is created in his stories, with uncanny vividness of situations and psychology. This is the second one. I believe if Matt were to become a "bestselling commercial" suspense author, he'd do it effortlessly.

There's an apparent musical quality to his craftsmanship. I don't what type of musical score I'm talking about, but everything contained within a fictional narrative seems to gain momentum, never too paced or slowed, and soars higher and higher until it cracks over the reader, releasing the monstrous and the unreal in all its dark climax. I'm wondering if Matt himself listens to music while he writes...

If desired or intended, I've seen him getting from subtle or implicit atmospheric horrors that is so commonly seen in the genre to a more visceral and hardcore type, and sometimes mixing both of them. At some moments in some stories, I truly felt a kind of sickness in my stomach.

I wouldn't be able to comment about every story, at least not now, but this review will get edited as I intend to revise the stories from time to time.

Let's talk a bit about my top picks from this collection...

The future was a dark, empty road winding through a blasted landscape toward the shell of a dead city. The journey was a nightmare and the destination a hell. My former goals and pleasures littered my psyche like the dry corpses of dead loved ones, and I wanted nothing more than to sink into oblivion, whether sleep or death did not matter.

This is from "Teeth". It's one of the best cosmic horror and weird fiction I've read. The description and horrific knowledge of the revelation, piecing evidences from quantum mechanics, philosophy and gluing with it the raging chaos of today's world, there's no escaping the helplessness induced in this story; it's too much realistic, like seeing real events unfold inside the mind and consciousness. I'd suggest this story to start reading Matt's fiction, just to understand what you're getting yourself into...

I absolutely loved "The Stars Shine Without Me". I love that title! Just from the first page, I got that "corporate horror" vibe introduced in Ligotti's fiction, but this isn't necessarily just in that canon. The story is short compared to the other works (except another short piece named "If It Had Eyes"), but the vision that is described here and the cosmic extent to which it spreads, is all too poetic and grand to behold. It's hard to pick which of the stories is my most favorite, but this story comes up first every time I think about choosing one (nevertheless don't quote me on that!).

"The Basement Theater" is another favorite of mine. It's pure Ligottian, in my opinion, and in that sense an amazing production and tribute to his corpus. I just wish if it were a bit longer!

There are two beautiful collaborative works in this book, with Mark McLaughlin; both of them are pure genius. The first one is "Nightmares, Imported and Domestic". It's a stupefying and all the more confusing existential horror that explores, in Matt's own words, "the Hindu metaphor of Indra's net, whose nodes of jewels generate infinitely regressive reflections"; here's the art of taking an idea and telling a horror story about it, using art and artist(s).

The second of the collaborations is the last story in this book: "The Cherished Place at the Center of His Plans".

He wanted to negate everything, to obliterate it all, to overturn the universe and see them all- including himself- gaping in horror as the stark glare of revealed reality annihilated their blinkered denials and the world they protected.

The emptiness in his chest had become a bottomless abyss that would eventually swallow the rest of him, leaving only a hungering darkness in the shape of a man.

It's another story centering around an artist, whose "gruesomely repulsive artistic imagination" has made him a luminary figure, through the productions of utmost singular paintings that transpires his dark imaginations. The rituals and mental customs where the artist seems to indulge himself, the visions and inspirations, the teeming atmosphere, read like getting myself into an unique psychedelia to me. The surreal taste in story is an utter delight to savor. I should mention that the names of the various paintings can be made into excellent story titles themselves: The end of It All, The Luster of Yellowed Bones, The Hatchlings...

One of the most obscure stories for me, but that I loved for it's reality and experimental approach, is "Blackbrain Dwarf". And yes, it's one of the more hardcore types.

"Prometheus Possessed" is a horrific mixture of science fiction, philosophy and religion. It's certainly one of the standouts in the whole bunch.

The novella "The God of Foulness" felt like an apocalyptic onslaught that seems to be in the making, when an old religion gets revived, deities that "haven't been worshiped for nearly six thousand years".

I can't ramble on much without repeating myself stupidly. If I want to be more discreet and verbose, I need to reread these tales again, and this review will get heavily edited in the coming future. I read the entirety of this book late into the nights, in winter, which ended a couple of days ago, which made revelatory supplements to my delight in reading it.

At the end, those who really want to put themselves under a spell of some prolific tales in the horror and weird fiction genre, buy this. It's worth it. This book has become one of several that I wish to possess in the paperback form in the future when I have enough money to do so.

That is all...

... the way I saw the world currently when I was in one of my darker moods: full of suffering, devoid of meaning, going nowhere.
23 reviews1 follower
August 16, 2019
Worth buying

Well, this author really really doesn’t like Ain Sof, that’s for sure!

At least that’s how it seems... at first. There are an awful lot of stories in this volume, of middling to nearly-great quality, and they seem to be arranged in a way that unfolds or reveals the author’s increasingly subtler understanding of the universe and our being within it, over the course of the stories. So while the first narrator seems unbearably naive, and the story told us similarly... unsophisticated? the later stories reveal a deep erudition and much less crude approach to what I can only call ontological horror.

This one is original for sure, and definitely worth the read. If I’m doing a bad job of describing it, that’s because these stories are complicated (much more complex taken as a whole body than individually, I might add—I am reminded of the way that JG Ballard stories have an entirely different and more immersive effect read in collection than as one-offs in an anthology).

The author obviously has done a lot of writing and reading in philosophy and theology and probably mysticism. He’s clearly internalized the core ideas of Jung, Zen Buddhism, Hinduism, Christianity, the classical philosophers; he’s also (it seems to me) rejected the Enlightenment as crude and even dangerous. He channels Lovecraft and Ligotti through these philosophical frameworks, which is pretty interesting. Less creepy-scary than sort of... spiritually scary? I hate to keep using the word but no other fits... ontologically terrifying.

Anyway give it a try if you are into any of the influences mentioned in this review, but do keep slogging through if at first you don’t dig it. It improves as it goes.
Profile Image for Spencer.
1,417 reviews33 followers
September 5, 2019
This is an outstanding collection of short stories based around the eternal nothingness that presses upon existence and the insignificance of our hollow lives... It sounds bleak because it is, so beautifully bleak.

Matt's writing is truly masterful; each word has a reason to be there and has had a wealth of thought put into it. The mix of spirituality and cosmic fiction works together perfectly, to the point that the book starts to feel like a secret truth behind the universe and that this is its bible.

I will think about this book for quite some time and certainly come back to again as there's a lot here to digest. As someone new to Matt's work To Rouse Leviathan felt like the perfect introduction, I loved every single moment and would highly recommend this.
Profile Image for Shawn.
441 reviews9 followers
October 8, 2021
If you like an author who thinks everyone talks the same and thinks alliterations and adjectives are substitutes for style, walls of boring text that are painfully repetitive, ideas both rote and stale, and did I mention how painfully repetitive and dull it all is?
Only for the "intellectual elite" who are no doubt going to make far fetched assumptions about my character in the comments below.
Author 6 books12 followers
May 4, 2022
Really enjoyed the stories in Part 1, but as it went, it got a bit too Ligotti-wannabe for me.
Profile Image for Joshua.
104 reviews10 followers
November 18, 2019
A fantastic collection of short fiction spanning more than a decade of Cardin's writing career. He manages to center most stories around an unsettling nexus of conventional religion, cosmic horror, and deep, troubling nihilism in the vein of Ligotti. There are enough variations on the theme that the collection stays fresh and profoundly on point throughout, frequently leaving the reader with a disorienting sense of mounting dread.

Really solid work and a strong balance of some weighty philosophical concepts with gut-churning horror spawning from mankind's position helplessness in the face of nebulous futility.
Profile Image for Alex.
Author 3 books20 followers
September 21, 2019
There is a strong theological bend to this collection, often setting Christian dogma adjacent to Nyarlathotep and Shub Niggurath in cosmic indifference. “The New Pauline Corpus” is more than just a blasphemous treatise, but hints at a shattered world around the edges of our unreliable narrator. “The God of Foulness” is a gripping novella that explores and inhabits a nihilist cult. The craftsmanship here is deft as the author bringing us in as a curious outsider, but infects us and then tensely, inexorably drags us within the chapel to experience the communion.

Cardin does some of his most exceptional work in the novelette length. “An Abhorrence to All Flesh” is a compelling character study with a delightful descent into madness. This felt like an homage to all the bookish Lovecraft tropes while improving on every single aspect of them. “Teeth” inhabits a liminal space next to Dreams in the Witch House. This combines some of the best story elements and style of Lovecraft and Ligotti while sprinkling with Millennial despair. This is what creepypastas aspire to be.

“The Basement Theater” could have simply been a throwaway dream sequence, which rarely do anything for me. However, this compact piece grew beyond that and was an unsettling view of unreliable paranoia. “A Cherished Place at the Center of His Plans” is a crushing nihilistic ending to this collection with the exploration of the futility of creation.
Profile Image for Rab Araujo.
424 reviews26 followers
May 7, 2020
Le doy un 4.8

Esta compilación de historias es terrible y agresiva con un muy profundo horror cósmico. Creo que a pesar de los tiempos tan "liberales"en los que vivimos, escribir este tipo de horror, uno tan religioso y trasgresor debe ser complicado. El resultado, sin embargo, es una verdadera delicia.

Es curioso por que sólo en un par de relatos sentí que no tenía fuerza ni logró captar tanto mi interés. Pero un aspecto que le aplaudo es la manera en que termina cada relato. No es solamente el final, de hecho, en la mayoría de estos cuentos, de haber sido escrito por casi cualquier otro escritor, habría dado punto y aparte un par de cuartillas antes. Cardin tiene el valor de ir un poquito más allá, de seguir explorando y profundizando en el horror y sus repercusiónes a pesar de que ya sabes de forma certera cómo es que la cosa va a terminar en la mayoría de estos cuentos.

Y es que, cómo bien dice en alguno de sus realtos, es una yuxtaposición que provoca un shock novedoso para el lector de este tipo de literatura. En fin, definitivamente esta antología no tiene pierde alguno.

Por cierto, gracias por un par de noches con pesadillas señor Cardin ¬¬
Profile Image for Jon.
213 reviews5 followers
April 7, 2021
After many pauses and hiatus aplenty, I have finished the collection! Prior to reading this, my only real exposure to Cardin was his work with the Vastarien magazine. But I heard the rumors and the praise and the lauding from so many I respect, and finally picked up the collection in question. And what is it? Darkness, grimness, weirdness, horror, some comedic touches here and there, and just all-around a good time.

Most all of the stories involve religions of one variety or another. Many are Ligotti-inspired (surprise), but there's also inspiration coming out of the gills from Lovecraft (hah, get it?), Chambers, and the like. But as with any good author, the inspirations don't overshadow his own abilities (in the case of two of the stories, his and that of Mark McLaughlin). I have a hard time thinking of any particular single favorite, but forerunners are the two stories written with McLaughlin, Teeth, Notes of a Mad Copyist, The Devil and One Lump, and The God of Foulness.

Overall, very satisfied with the collection, even though I did drag my brain a bit getting through it all and some of the religious references probably missed me. Great stuff!
129 reviews10 followers
March 24, 2020
(three stars)

I personally find Cardin's cosmic horror to lack the innately haunted sense of life that so vitally characterized the works of his most relevant predecessors in this subgenre. And his much-discussed erudition doesn't compensate for this lack. After all, the metaphysical grounding of his oeuvre derives from the well-known temporal ambiguity suggested in the first chapter of Genesis: the "dark and formless void" which might have preceded the Creator itself. Many of his stories are just varied expressions of this assumption and, although written in a fairly easy style, nevertheless come off as merely religiously-referential rehearsals of the usual cosmic horror program.

The first stories of the reprinted collections--"An Abhorrence to All Flesh" and "Teeth"--exemplify how and why the tendency of this subgenre toward broadly-painted abstractions so often fails to be evocative, while the more visceral moments seem like unimaginative compensations for all of the anemically theoretical babble.

"The Stars Shine Without Me", the author's lone foray into the territory of corporate horror, similarly suffers from abstract generalization of imagery and events and largely misses the incisive point which Mark Samuels and Thomas Ligotti have made with stories of this type: the increasing dehumanization of the employee in an increasingly mechanized world.

Apparently, Mark Mclaughlin is a great source of aesthetic synergy for Cardin because the two collaborations--"Nightmares, Imported and Domestic" and one of the new stories, "A Cherished Place at the Center of His Plans"--are among the most imaginatively-plotted and fully-realized works here. Both narratives treat visual art as a psychotropic medium and, having been rendered with enough artistic conviction, avoid most of the usual stereotypes; the second tale especially, with its truly idiosyncratic curator who belongs more to bizarro fiction than cosmic horror.

To be fair, Cardin does seem to have taken a more experimental turn in his most recent fiction as opposed to the mostly plodding conventionality of past narratives. "Prometheus Possessed" makes the interesting choice of second-person narration in the first and final paragraphs to suggest, at once, a distantly godlike though unnervingly intimate perspective on a hyper-sophisticated, near-future city in which mental illness still prevails and soon comes to a climax; the author's descriptive power has never been more devastating and disturbing, and, if he can continue to write at this level, I might have to amend some of my general opinions in the future. Though less successful in my opinion, "The New Pauline Corpus" uses parallel narratives to initially disturb and finally correlate the paths of events leading to a new, worldwide religious order. The frequent Cthulhu-Christ comparisons seemed too ham-fisted to be disturbing, though I can appreciate Cardin's attempt to be innovative in both form and content.

It is too easy to take a more intellectual than emotional approach to cosmic horror, and I think the weaknesses of this book are at least partially related to Cardin's somewhat scholarly leanings; had he spent more time examining more personal horrors than the all-too-obvious pessimistic themes found in many ancient mythologies, perhaps this book would bear the same dark conviction that marks the oeuvres of Ligotti and Lovecraft. Though 'To Rouse Leviathan' is not without merit, I think Michael Griffin's 'The Human Alchemy' and Kurt Fawver's 'The Dissolution of Small Worlds' are superior contemporary evocations of the numinous.

Profile Image for Christopher Laine.
Author 5 books9 followers
February 5, 2021
“Beyond the edge of the world there’s a space where emptiness and substance neatly overlap, where past and future form a continuous, endless loop. And, hovering about, there are signs no one has ever read, chords no one has ever heard.”
― Haruki Murakami, Kafka on the Shore

I didn't know what to expect when I picked up Matt Cardin's collection of fiction To Rouse Leviathan. I've read a lot of strange / horror fiction in my time. Like so many of us who reckon ourselves aficionados (read dilettantes) of such literature, I often get it in my head that I am inured of the impact the bizarre and the existentially horrific has upon me.

It is a wondrous shock of adrenaline when someone can snap me out of this misapprehension.

Matt Cardin did just this.

To Rouse Leviathan is a lengthy tome, broken into three parts, each containing a number of short fictions. And while each of these pieces very much stands on its own, there is a thematic weave of Lovecraftian horror to all of it. Do not misunderstand me. Mr. Cardin does not hand us the standard Mythos monsters and Old Ones (though they do rear their sanity-draining heads at various points). No, what we are given is a new vision of cosmic horror, an expansion of the Mythos into new and unexplored feelings. What we are left with is that unnerving sense of dread which made such classic Lovecraftian tales so impactful when first we read them.

To Rouse Leviathan is not necessarily an easy read, but I do not believe it is meant to be. The writing is dense and intellectual, rich with eschatological symbols. The imagery of religious and artistic discovery gone too far, to places where we fear to tread rushes towards us again and again.

I took my time reading Mr. Cardin's tales, as I wanted to savour them, to take in their gruesome message of madness and the religious, of the unknown of the muse, and where that dismal ghost can lead us.

Religious and artistic ecstasy is a tired old aphorism. What of the awfulness of spiritual discovery, of the dread in what our own art will say about us.

Some minds are never meant to know Truth. And this book captures that feeling in a way which left me both cringing and applauding all at once.

A must read for anyone who loves that grim push to the outer edge.

Profile Image for Vicente Ribes.
662 reviews94 followers
January 24, 2023
Fantástica colección de relatos. Matt Cardin se erige como un digno sucesor de Ligotti y Lovecraft en esta antología. Sus influencias son palpables pero Cardin añade su propio estilo mezclando la religión, la paranoia y el terror en una colección de relatos imprescindible.
El nivel de casi todos los cuentos y pequeñas novelas de este libro es muy alto pero destacaría los siguientes:

“The Basement Theater”: Donde un hombre visita frequentemente el sótano de un teatro sin saber el motivo que le lleva allí y de donde sale cambiado después de cada visita.

"If it had eyes": Un pintor descubre una misteriosa niebla que el resto de la gente no parece ver. Esta niebla va apoderándose de él poco a poco.

"Teeth": Lovecraftiana historia donde un genio se vuelve loco leyendo unos escritos en la universidad.

"The stars shine without me": Me recordó mucho a Ligotti. Un hombre trabaja en una empresa en una ciudad de pesadilla. No sabe ni de que trabaja ni porque pero un dia un misterioso jefe lo llamará a su presencia.

"Nightmares , Imported and Domestic With Mark McLaughlin": El relato que más me ha gustado. Un pintor sueña a menudo con la vida de otro hombre. Este otro hombre conseguirá la manera de conectar ambos mundos y entrar en la vida del soñador.

"The god of foulness": Un hombre investiga una cadena de sucesos donde está implicada una secta que no cree en la medicina. Que cree que las dolencias se han de soportar porque eso les acerca más a su dios.

"A Cherished Place at the Center of His Plans" : Un pintor que ha realizado una serie de extraños cuadros recibe la oferta de un millonario para acabar esa serie de lienzos con una nueva obra maestra. El pintor descubrirá que la inspiración le viene de un extraño ser. El extraño ser me recordó bastante a Hastur, el rey de amarillo.
Profile Image for Alex Budris.
135 reviews
February 20, 2023
Unrelenting pessimism aside, this is a pretty good book. Best if taken in bits, and not all at once. I look forward to more. 2021.

Re-read 2 years later. Have you ever fallen through a hole in the World? The thing is, I only gave this book three stars, but in the 2 years since I first read it, I've been thinking about it a lot. You know the dark impression Ligotti leaves on you? Long after you've finished the story? It's like that. My mind was lightly tinted by the book. If you like Ligotti, this guy is for you. And Cardin is unashamed, in the shadow of the master - He edits a literary journal focusing on Ligottian literature. Anyway, TL aside, this a book worth reading. It really sticks with you. Trigger warning: spiritual torture. And a cosmic tunnel lined with teeth. Ready to eat yr head. The author has some advanced degree in Religious Studies or something, and there is a terrifying legitimacy to his dark philosophies. His horrors are, truly, beyond good and evil. 4 stars. 4 stars indeed! The cover art by the always fantastic Michael Hutter is worth a star in itself.
Profile Image for Dimitrios.
110 reviews2 followers
December 9, 2020
Βιβλιοέναυσμα #38: To Rouse Leviathan (διαβάστε ολόκληρο το άρθρο και στο ιστολόγιό μου Κοιλάδα της Γνώσης: https://www.koiladatisgnosis.gr/logot...)

Να πάρει, οι συλλογές διηγημάτων τρόμου είναι λίγες. Και οι καλές, ακόμα λιγότερες. Αυτό όμως δεν με εμπόδισε από το να οργώσω τον ιστοχώρο τού BookDepository και να ανακαλύψω μερικά διαμαντάκια – φευ, μόνο εις την αγγλικήν. Ένα από αυτά είναι η συλλογή ιστοριών κοσμικού-βιβλικού τρόμου To Rouse Leviathan (Hippocampus Press, 2019, 374 σελ.) τού αγνώστου και εξαιρετέου Matt Cardin.

Κατ’ αρχάς, δεν υπάρχει περίπτωση να δεις το εξώφυλλο τού βιβλίου και να μην σε τραβήξει. Ένας βικτωριανά ντυμένος μεσήλικας και μια κοκκινομάλα άνευ ιματίων να πλέουν με μια βάρκα σε φουρτουνισμένη θάλασσα, ενώ απόκοσμα βιβλικά τέρατα (την καλησπέρα μου στον κ. Λεβιάθαν) προβάλλουν τα κεφάλια τους απειλητικά… Ε όχι, δεν το προσπερνάς. Πριν παραγγείλω όμως το βιβλίο, και εν μέρει και εξ αιτίας τής αλμυρής τιμής (περίπου 22 ευρώ στο BookDepository), έκανα επισταμένη έρευνα περί τής ποιότητός του. Τρία πράγματα με έπεισαν. Πρώτον, η ενασχόληση τού συγγραφέα με την θεολογία (έχει μεταπτυχιακό στον κλάδο), καθώς και ο βιβλικός, παλαιοβιβλικός βασικά, χαρακτήρας τού βιβλίου, που έδειχναν ότι ο άνθρωπος αν μη τι άλλο ξέρει για τι γράφει. Δεύτερον, όσα διάβασα στις κριτικές αναγνωστών στο Goodreads (4.2/5 αστέρια αλλά μόνο 149 βαθμολογήσεις) και ειδικά όσα είδα γ��α το διήγημα Teeth σε αυτήν την κριτική. Τρίτον, η συμμετοχή τού συγγραφέα σε σεβαστές ανθολογίες τρόμου, όπως στις The Children of Cthulhu και Cthulhu’s Reign.

Όταν παρήγγειλα λοιπόν το To Rouse Leviathan από το BookDepository, δεν περίμενα την οδύσσεια που θα ακολουθούσε. Ενώ άλλα βιβλία που χτύπησα προ- και μεταγενέστερα έφταναν κανονικά, το To Rouse Leviathan έμενε άφαντο για δυόμισι ολόκληρους μήνες. Αλλεπάλληλες ανταλλαγές e-mail με τους του BookDepository αποκάλυψαν πως η διεύθυνση που είχα δώσει (την ίδια με των υπολοίπων παραγγελιών) δεν ευρέθη (!!), οπότε το βιβλίο γύρισε στο Ηνωμένο Βασίλειο. Ζήτησα να το ξαναστείλουν και η απάντηση ήταν πως οι τεράστιες καθυστερήσεις στις μεταφορικές τούς το απαγορεύουν. Τελικά, μου επέστρεψαν το ποσό που είχα δώσει και στράφηκα αλλού για να βρω τον Λεβιάθαν. Στο εγγλέζικο Amazon συγκεκριμένα, απ’ όπου και μετά από τρεις ακόμα εβδομάδες αναμονής επιτέλους το παρέλαβα!! Με 26 ευρώ όμως, καθότι το Amazon γδέρν—- εεε χρεώνει και μεταφορικά.

Και πάμε τώρα στην ουσία.. Το βιβλίο περιέχει όλες τις ιστορίες που ο Matt Cardin έχει δημοσιεύσει κατά καιρούς σε περιοδικά, ανθολογίες, και στις δύο προγενέστερες συλλογές του (Dark Awakenings και Divinations of the Deep). Όλες εκτός της τελευταίας είναι σε πρωτοπρόσωπη αφήγηση και όλες μα όλες κατατάσσονται στον κοσμικό τρόμο. Αν και η βιβλική θεματική υποτίθεται πως είναι το συνδετικό συστατικό τού βιβλίου, κάποιες λίγες ιστορίες, όπως το The Basement Theatre, προσεγγίζουν άλλες κατηγορίες (το συγκεκριμένο τον Λιγκότι) και θα προτιμούσα να έχουν μείνει εκτός. Είδα σε αρκετές (τουλάχιστον 3) ιστορίες την υπόθεση να περιπλέκεται γύρω από έναν καλλιτέχνη/μοναχό/συγγραφέα που λαμβάνει ανίερη έμπνευση. Καλό, αλλά κάπως επαναλαμβανόμενο. Εκτός από το καταπληκτικό Notes of a Mad Copyist (παρελθόν, μάλλον Μεσαίωνας) και το χλιαρό Prometheus Possessed (μέλλον), τα διηγήματα διαδραματίζονται στον 20ο αιώνα. Αλλά γιατί να μην έχουμε και κάποια π.χ. στον Ισραήλ την εποχή τού Δαβίδ; Κάτι τέτοιο θα πήγαινε γάντι στην βιβλική θεματική. Επίσης, παρότι φοβόμουν το αντίθετο, ο λόγος τού Cardin ήταν εξαιρετικά απλός και στρωτός, ευκολοδιάβαστος ακόμα και από κάποιον με μέτριο χειρισμό τής αγγλικής (συγγνώμη, εγγλέζικης). Στα αρνητικά και το… μικρό όνομα τού συγγραφέα. Γράφεις βιβλικό τρόμο με όνομα Matt; Πού πας, ρε Matt; Για μπέιζμπολ με την σχολική ομάδα; Βάλε ένα Nathaniel, ένα Jeremiah, άντε έστω ένα David..

Λοιπόν, μου άρεσαν περισσότερο οι μεγαλύτερες ιστορίες τής συλλογής, και συγκεκριμένα οι:
- Notes of a Mad Copyist: ένας καλόγερος που περνάει όλη του την μέρα αντιγράφοντας ιερά κείμενα αρχίζει να παρατηρεί πως το χέρι του γράφει εξαιρετικά ανόσια πράγματα… Πάνω που ήθελα να ξαναδιαβάσω το Όνομα τού Ρόδου..
- Judas of the Infinite: μικρό διήγημα, στο οποίο εμφανίζεται ο ίδιος ο Θέ—-
- Teeth: μια ιστορία γεμάτη φιλοσοφία, κβαντομηχανική, και μυστήριο, την οποία την περίμενα εξαιρετική. Τελικώς, απλά καλή.
- The God of Foulness: ιστοριάρα, σε μέγεθος νουβέλας, για έναν ρεπόρτερ και μια αίρεση τής οποίας οι πιστοί λατρεύουν τον Θεό τους με το να μην ακολουθούν θεραπεία για τις θανατηφόρες ασθένειες που τους μαστίζουν..
- A Cherished Place at the Center of His Plans (μαζί με τον Mark McLaughlin): ξανά σε μέγεθος νουβέλας. Η πρόσληψη ενός ζωγράφου από έναν μυστηριώδη επιχειρηματία για να καλλιτεχνήσει το τελευταίο κομμάτι της τεράστιας συλλογής απόκοσμων πινάκων που διατηρεί στο υπόγειο τής απομονωμένης έπαυλής του. Λεπτομέρεια; Ο ζωγράφος πρέπει να εργαστεί στο υπόγειο… Α, και την καλησπέρα μου στον Κίτρινο Βα—–

Οι παραπάνω, αλλά και μερικές ακόμα, αρκούν για να πάρετε το To Rouse Leviathan, που είναι άλλωστε ίσως και η μόνη συλλογή βιβλικού τρόμου εκεί έξω. Σίγουρα θα πάρω ό,τι άλλο βγάλει ο Matt Cardin, κι ας μην τον λένε… Nathaniel.
Profile Image for Michael Hicks.
Author 35 books430 followers
October 3, 2020
Matt Cardin delivers a thick and consistently interesting collection of cosmic horror short stories in his collection, To Rouse Leviathan. Over the course of sixteen tales, he tackles the challenges Christianity poses to abyssal horror, and vice versa, infusing his explorations of Lovecraftian weirdness with decidedly religious and philosophical undertones that really help to elevate and separate his own particular brand of the strange and peculiar.

In case you didn't glom onto it already, To Rouse Leviathan is also particularly dense. While the stories each vary in length from the fairly short to nearly novella sized, they each revolve around the Big Idea of an uncaring and unrelenting horror beyond our understanding, and mankind's place in the cosmos - as well as that of God himself.

Cardin lays out his plans in the book's preface, exploring the scriptural revelations that point toward a "formless void and darkness" that existed before the Christian God and Sumerian myth that underpins much of Christianity's own mythology. God and his creations are merely a brief pause in an older, stronger cosmic entropy that will eventually reawaken and consume us all.

The ancient and eternal deep begins to make its presence known in "An Abhorrence to All Flesh," a story of rot and fire, set against the emergence of an old religious order as relayed to our narrator. This story makes for a very strong opener and ends on a perfectly chilling note. It also exhibits Cardin's central thesis and shows the strength in his premise, perfectly illustrating that Christian myth and cosmic horror are supremely companionable bedfellows.

"The Basement Theater" was a light but effective enough metaphorical telling about an actor whose life is dictated by the unseen hand of a scriptwriter. While not as cosmically deep as the stories that preceded it, I did enjoy the subversion of Christianity's supposed love and hopefulness with the bleak nihilism of the older and uncaring abyss. It's a theme that plays more effectively, and weightier, in "Blackbrain Dwarf," a more straight-forward horror piece concerned with madness, marital infidelity, and murder.

Given the focus on God's role in the cosmos, one can't help but wonder, at some point, what, exactly, the Devil might think of all this. How will Satan be affected by the burgeoning havoc wreaked by a third-party? "The Devil and One Lump" is Cardin's attempt to answer such inquiries, and it's an archly humorous and highly self-aware bit of self-referential fiction. The author clearly found a lot of enjoyment in making fun of his own style and mythology, and his explorations of Christian nihilism in this one, and it's a wryly amusing story that helps show the elasticity to Cardin's talents.

For my money, though, it's "The God of Foulness" that marks Cardin's masterwork in this stand-out story. Here, we find a journalist who has been tasked with investigating a local chapter of the Sick and Saved movement, whose members worship sickness and disease. Originally published in 2002, I couldn't help but find this story supremely 2020 in terms of relevancy, particularly in light of Trump's recent hospitalization for COVID-19 infection and the Rose Garden Massacre he helped ferment with his heedless anti-mask, pro-virus hysterics of the last six months. Cardin's story is wonderfully bleak and beautifully horrifying, with one of the biggest shockers of the entire collection. This very well might just be my favorite short story now, period. And coming across it when I did was certainly fortuitous!

"Chimeras & Grotesqueries" is another rich and compelling narrative involving a homeless man's creation of effigies, set against an evolving cataclysm. I'm not sure the framing device surrounding this narrative was wholly necessary, but that's a minor caveat for a story that's otherwise an incredibly strong and captivating account of reality unraveling.

Arranged in three parts, Cardin weaves an intriguing narrative quilt across the whole of the collection. Although these stories are essentially standalone in nature, they're bound together by Cardin's own explorations of the various ways Christ and Cthulhu intersect, arranging a loose chronology across a three-act structure. I will say, though, that some of the story elements Cardin focuses on do get a bit repetitive across successive works, but I also don't feel they outstayed their welcome. Collected as they are here, this presentation is an interesting look at Cardin's evolution over the years and the various ways he tackles similar premises as he returns to them over the years. I greatly enjoyed the way he shakes up and inverts Christian beliefs and ties them into a grander, and certainly more creative, cosmos. God, after all, may not be mankind's oldest horror icon, but he's certainly one of the most well-known.
Profile Image for Remostyler.
80 reviews3 followers
October 19, 2021
I wanted to give this 5 stars. I really did. This is a phenomenal collection of stories but the stories here, unfortunately, have many fundamental flaws in my opinion.
Let’s talk about those flaws first.

First and foremost, the collection is very repetitive. This is usually the case with single author collections but this one is even more repetitive than that. It sometimes feels like you’re reading author’s various essays on the same subject. Don’t get me wrong, I do appreciate author’s exploration of the same themes from different aspects but it does get boring at times. This repetition is also present in his word choice. For example, there’re a lot of abysses. Whole lot of abysses.

My other gripe with this one was the characters. Some of them were ok but characters here were mostly underdeveloped(even judging by short story standards), flat and overall meh. Better characters alone would make this one 5 star book. Lastly, I’d personally like a little bit more of atmosphere and ambiance. That’s me though, I don’t think it’s lacking in that department.

In terms of what this book did well, I think I need to talk about originality first. The stories here are nothing like you read before, they’re very unique and original. Yeah some thematic similarities with Ligotti but that’s pretty much it. Second, philosophical and theological discussion here is top notch. I’m not a religious guy, nowhere near it in fact, and not a huge philosophy guy either but I enjoyed exploration of those aspects here immensely. Also, although it gets unnecessarily dense at times, I really liked author’s prose. I thought It was visceral and unique. Lastly, I want to highlight 3 stories. I think these 3 stories were phenomenal and as good as it gets in modern horror fiction: “Teeth”, “The God Of Foulness” and “A Cherished Place For His Plans”.

Read this collection, it’s great.
Profile Image for VII.
240 reviews27 followers
July 27, 2022
This was surprisingly good. I enjoyed it much more than I enjoy Lovecraft and Ligotti, though many stories basically convey exactly what Ligotti is conveying, that we are just mirrors or puppets of this darkness that nobody can escape from. But Cardin has an interest in religion that brings out a few twists and for some strange reason I was always attracted to the occult. It also helps that his stories are more often than not being set in contemporary times, are less surreal than Liggotti's and he uses less descriptions than him and Lovecraft. My favourite story or maybe my favourite moment was the ending of Teeth.
Profile Image for Austin Case.
Author 3 books67 followers
January 20, 2022
Was enjoying this book until I got to this line in a short story: 'Over the years I have become an assiduous student of Lovecraft, not just his stories but his essays and letters. And I have marveled at the man's uncanny ability to see so deeply into the truth and yet remain so composed and kindhearted." Nope.
Profile Image for Sotiris Kosmas.
63 reviews1 follower
January 6, 2023
A breath of vile air in Lovecraftian fiction which is certain to create a void in the souls of readers and make them despair at the nihilistic view of the world. Mythology exquisitely combined with religion offers a glimpse of the Leviathan at the center of existence that will devour us all.
Profile Image for Gavin.
217 reviews35 followers
October 9, 2020
Perhaps I've OD'd on horror recently but this, no matter how well written, is just unbelievably one note. And also not really scary.

Lots of "struggling with faith in the face of the eternal void" not much "actual things happening". I know what my preference is!
Profile Image for Bill.
218 reviews
January 8, 2020
A tentative 2.5 stars; I'll need to come back to some of these stories later on. I had trouble with Cardin's prose style, but enjoyed some of his plots. I felt like I was missing something as I read, and I want to give this book a fair shake since I've heard so many good things about it. I unfairly rounded down on the stars because my gut instinct says the book is okay and I'm not so sure I liked it.
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