Before True Detective helped propel cosmic horror into mainstream pop culture, there was a whole confluence of 21st century American Weird and cosmic horror writers who emerged around New York City and New York state. This includes Laird Barron, John Langan, Mike Allen, and Victor LaValle, and Livia Llewellyn among others. Most of them were influenced by the usual suspects – Lovecraft, Ligotti, Howard, Poe, etc. But their books also modernized and reshaped classic horror stories using newer literary techniques and different influences.
Laird Barron for instance often wrote hard-boiled, whiskey-slugging noir protagonists who suddenly found themselves helpless in proximity to evil, chuckling eldritch gods. Many of these writers had an interest as well in distortion of time and the terror of disassociation – Wounds (based on a Nathan Ballingrud novella) and The Empty Man are the closest recent horror cinema has come to this mood. Time is out of joint, and the atrocities that have occurred can only be inferred, not fully comprehended or explained.
Llewellyn’s collection Furnace is the closest of these writers to Clive Barker in approach: sensory feeling, power, and violence co-mingling into an uneasy, feminine Sublime. This is erotic horror at its finest and most imagistic. Unfortunately, seven years on, Furnace is also her most recent book. She’s indicated on her blog that bigger publishers aren’t interested in her novels, especially as a female writer discussing dark topics, and indie horror is a more difficult market than ever. (Laird Barron has been blunt about turning lately to crime-horror slipstream works because it will pay the bills faster.) Hopefully this Solutian discussion will help her profile rise in some small but meaningful way.
Furnace is available through the WordHorde website, Amazon, and Ebay among other outlets.