Randall Wood's Reviews > A Choir of Ill Children

A Choir of Ill Children by Tom Piccirilli
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Feb 02, 2012

it was amazing
Read in January, 2012

I'd come across an "unpublished preview" edition that didn't betray its genre, and I was better off for it. I doubt I'll read a more memorable book in 2012: Piccirilli's prose is hauntingly detached, betrayed, bewitched. He juxtaposes sex with misery, life with afterlife, reality with dreams, and he scrambles past and present. Nothing is real; nothing is unreal. My edition's cover had a black stamped dragonfly silhouette over the orange glow of Louisiana swamp: how much more enticing - and how much less revealing - than what the publisher finally chose: a haunted house on a hill. Bastards.

Piccirilli did best when he was tangling the plot, drawing the reader into the mystery. The story's denouement comes almost sadly, obligatorily, anti-climactically. Rereading it reveals the foreshadowing, the scattered hints of betrayal and evil. It's better the first time, when Piccirilli's lyrical prose is at its most harrowing, its most enticing, its most tragic.
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