The Barrens & Others by F. Paul Wilson
A first-rate collection of first-rate tales, ranging from Lovecraftian to Western supernatural, with many mysterious combination in between, The Barrens and Others will be a treasure for Wilson’s established fans and to those discovering Wilson for the first time.
“What comes through most clearly in this collection’s selections, and in Wilson’s chatty introductions to each, is the author’s unselfconscious enthusiasm for the craft of storytelling… Compared with brand-name horror writers like King and Barker, Wilson has kept a fairly low profile, but he’s a solid, dependable talent, as The Barrens and Others clearly shows.” (San Francisco Chronicle)
“Though its contents range from dark suspense to light fantasy, all have a macabre edge honed on the hard experiences of their characters. In “Slasher,” the bereaved father of a murdered girl confronts the self-destructive potential of his rage when he accepts the help of an enigmatic FBI agent with clues to the killer’s whereabouts. In “Faces,” a serial killer’s penchant for mutilating faces is a key to her identity. While Wilson’s insights into the psychology of victim and villain are intriguingly complex, his prose is lean and flexible. It wends the narratives of the biter-bit tales “Definitive Therapy” and “A Day in the Life” (an all-too-rare short adventure of urban mercenary hero Repairman Jack) through complicated cloverleaves of plot and subplot, and it lays a groundwork of solid credibility for the title story, a dark gem that levers Lovecraftian horrors out of the wilds of the New Jersey Pine Barrens…these stories are a welcome riposte to the nihilism and gratuitous violence of much contemporary crime and horror fiction.” (Publishers Weekly)