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A Lower Deep
Tom Piccirilli
Leisure Books, 363 pages

A Lower Deep
Tom Piccirilli
Tom Piccirilli is the author of Dark Father, a horror novel published by Pocket Books -- a bestseller in Italy. Two more novels, Hexes, a dark fantasy, and Shards, a macabre mystery, have sold to Sperling & Kupfer (Italy). A soft-boiled mystery, The Dead Past, was released in the US. Piccirilli has also had a collection of five intertwined dark fantasy tales entitled Pentacle released from Pirate Writings Press. One of these stories, "Eye-Biting and Other Displays of Affection," was nominated for the Bram Stoker Award for best novella, and other tales landed on the Honourable Mention list of Year's Best Fantasy & Horror. As well, he is co-editor of Pirate Writings and Space & Time magazines, and he reviews books for Mystery News and The New York Review of Science Fiction.

ISFDB Bibliography
SF Site Review: Deep Into That Darkness Peering

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Lisa DuMond

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Fans of Tom Piccirilli's Self stories have waited a long time for a novel about their favourite necromancer and his wise-cracking, remorseless familiar. In answer to that demand, A Lower Deep will not fail to delight and disgust his most ardent admirers. The Necromancer and Self are back, and back with a literal vengeance. This is going to be an encounter that may leave none of the bizarre cast of characters alive. Or, as alive as they were at the beginning of the book.

Ten years after the devastating destruction of his old coven, the man known only as Necromancer finds himself being drawn back to the site of the disaster by the corrupt, insane leader responsible for so many deaths. Among those deaths was the Necromancer's only love, whose resurrection is the bait being used to lure him back for another ill-advised try.

Necromancer and Self (without doubt, the most endearing and exasperating demon ever envisioned) would choose to continue their aimless wanderings and the occasional redeeming act to finish out their miserable days. That isn't going to happen. The will of the new coven, the strength of biblical and satanic prophecy, and the intervention of demented servants of greater powers, have made certain that they will be drawn back into the leader's demented bid for power.

Piccirilli has an amazing gift for working exhaustive research seamlessly into a compelling narrative, without losing a particle of momentum. This is not a simple tale, but one rich in detail and texture. This is not a throw-away read; for the fullest enjoyment, read A Lower Deep in long stretches, to avoid becoming lost in layers of background and projection. Make no mistake; it is well worth the effort, but this is not an "easy read."

Which reminds me: if you are familiar with Piccirilli's work, you should be quite aware that his fiction is not wholesome family fare. This is more of the NC-17 stuff -- gore, sex, violence, prolonged suffering. It is very dark fantasy, after all, but you're ready for it.

If his work was only sensationalism, it would not be worth it... in fact, you wouldn't see it here, but his writing offers so much more. Character studies. Psychological struggles. Examinations on the true nature of good and evil and the blurred line between the two. The effect of actions on the mind. And harsh, honest, fine writing.

Should A Lower Deep hit big, expect an incoherent debate, the likes of which accompanies any work of fiction dealing with touchy religious issues. Not that that would be such a bad thing -- a crackling, good book burning is advertising you just can't pay for, and Piccirilli's works deserve as much attention as a good boycott would stir up.

Or, we could all just calm down and read A Lower Deep for the challenging piece of fiction that it is...

Copyright © 2001 Lisa DuMond

In between reviews and interviews, Lisa DuMond writes science fiction and humour. DARKERS, her latest novel, will be published in early 2000 by Hard Shell Word Factory. She has also written for BOOKPAGE and PUBLISHERS WEEKLY. Her articles and short stories are all over the map. You can check out Lisa and her work at her website hikeeba!.


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