by Joseph D’Lacey
Published by Crossroad Press, 2012.
While Joseph D’Lacey may not be the most productive writer around (only two novels since 2008) he has been a consistently enjoyable one. Both his eco-horror novels Meat and Garbage Man were very enjoyable books and his 2009 novella, The Kill Crew was a short, sharp joy but it’s now been a couple of years since When The Night Comes Down (Dark Arts Books) featured his last published stories so I was delighted to see this new publication. Snake Eyes consists of two novellas, the eponymous title story and a shorter story A Trespasser In Long Lofting.
First thing to point out is that whatever Joseph D’Lacey has been doing over the last couple of years certainly hasn’t involved laurels and resting. Snake Eyes delivers in all sorts of ways but most importantly sees D’Lacey embarking on a new and ambitious style mixing SF with Horror and Fantasy in a very satisfactory fashion as he builds on a style he started to explore in The Kill Crew. The world of Snake Eyes is a multi layered, complex place which cleverly manages to pull the reader along as it spirals into ever greater circles of confusion. Importantly, however, D’Lacey manages to keep things pacy and very readable and I was certainly hooked from the start to the finish. The story moves from its weird fiction beginnings to its Space Odyssey ending smoothly, yet this tale is stuffed full of pace change and style variations which in the hands of a lesser author would jolt the reader out of the story, not here though, here everything fits immaculately with beautiful prose and startling imagery throughout. Snake Eyes is different and clearly shows an author who has moved up a gear and who is prepared to experiment, thank goodness he succeeds.
A Trespasser In Long Lofting is quite a different thing. A bawdy comedy horror tale, it’s actually laugh out loud funny. There are hints of Pratchett and Douglas Adams on display as a demon falls from the sky onto the village of Long Lofting. Obviously, this causes intense theological debate amongst the villagers as well as more basic attractions for the village women. I’ve never been a huge fan of comedy in horror but this works for me. At one point D’Lacey starts to outcompete Roger’s Profanisaurus as he joyfully describes the demons testicles ( adversarial gonads anyone) it shouldn’t work but it does, particularly if you have the sense of humour of a fourteen year old like me.
So extreme contrast as the first story delivers intense intelligent plot and thoughtful subtext, while the second delivers comedy by the bucket load. Joseph D’Lacey is back and he’s on stellar form with these two tales, clearly the intervening years have not been wasted, instead he has moved forward with his writing, exploring new style and genres and doing it with some panache.
Rating 4.5 out of 5