A dark tour de force, The Infernal Clock offers up twenty-four devilishly twisted explorations into the nature of madness, abomination, death, limbo, and Hell. Featuring a top notch lineup of diverse, seasoned voices, the collection deserves a high place among the most promising efforts of 2017. Sporting not only a novel concept for an anthology, the book pushes the stylistic bounds of the genre, capering on the thin line between order and chaos. From the traditional through the experimental, each contribution casts its own macabre light in a kaleidoscopic view of horror.
The haunted nature of the human condition is made manifest, shades of the past, present, and future exerting their influence. Juxtaposed with the mundane, the depths of madness are plumbed, painting intimate portraits of atrocity. Death comes in guises both familiar and alien, highlighting the subjective nature of the thing itself. Views of Hell and limbo are detailed, from a Bosch-esque sightseeing tour combining the various mythologies of the gulf, to a banal, nightmarish loop of confusion and pain.
There are many jewels in this crown, but to my mind there are a few that shine especially bright. “The Infernal Clock” by Sean Fraser is a triumph of vision and detail, populating a world steeped in myriad myths and lores. “The Art of Creation” by Andrew Patch takes for its subject the dark, hidden origins of creativity, and the lengths the artist will go to for his or her art. A stirring, provocative piece. “The Layers Within” by Marie McKay delivers such a kick to the gut that I was left feeling physically ill. Probably my favorite story out of the bunch. “Hostile Takeover” by Eric Martell explores the nature of the sociopath under an especially twisted set of circumstances. Deeply disturbing. “Whispers” by Stephanie Ellis is a haunting ghost of a tale that builds subtly to a collective culmination of horror that will jar even the most desensitized readers.
Compliments to David Shakes and Stephanie Ellis for their artful collaboration/compilation, as well as to all the writers involved. Putting together a collection of such quality is no small undertaking, and certainly not to be overlooked. I would not be surprised if there was a Stoker award in this book’s future. Easily one of the finest offerings I’ve had the pleasure of reviewing.
FIND THE BOOK HERE.
Review Written by W.J. Renehan