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The Secret Back of Things
Christopher Golden
Cemetery Dance, 427 pages

Christopher Golden
Christopher Golden was born and raised in Massachusetts, where he still lives with his family. His original novels have been published in fourteen languages in countries around the world. He has written books for teens and young adults, including the thriller series Body of Evidence, honored by the New York Public Library and chosen as one of YALSA's Best Books for Young Readers. With Thomas E. Sniegoski, he is the co-author of the dark fantasy series The Menagerie as well as the young readers fantasy series OutCast and the comic book miniseries Talent, both of which were recently acquired by Universal Pictures. Working with actress/writer/director Amber Benson, he co-created and co-wrote Ghosts of Albion, an original animated supernatural drama for BBC online, from which they created the book series of the same name.

Christopher Golden Website
ISFDB Bibliography
SF Site Review: The New Dead
SF Site Review: Justice League of America: Exterminators
SF Site Review: British Invasion
SF Site Review: Mind the Gap

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Mario Guslandi

The Secret Back of Things Christopher Golden's fiction is hard to label. Basically a horror writer, he is actually, as shown in this short story collection, a very eclectic author. The present volume assembles eighteen tales quite various in genre, content and style. For instance there are: a historical piece ("One"), a vampire story full of graphic violence ("Venus and Mars"), a yarn in the shape of a comic book story ("Lament for Gunwitch"), a funny tale about the human race going crazy ("The Urge"), and a horrific novella running on the edge of plausibility, where a monster destroys the peace of a small sea town ("The Shell Collector").

Not everything in the book is top notch and not everything appeals to me. Golden, however, is a fine writer whose work is never boring, always well written, constantly entertaining. And some stories are quite remarkable, such as the superb "The Art of the Deal," where tattoos become a living art or "The Last Straw," where the supernatural element (the ghost of a former wife) is simply the frame for the compelling portrait of a man on his downfall.

"The Nuckelavee," co-written with Mike Mignola, is an excellent Hellboy story featuring an old guy doomed to pay his dues to his defunct brother, while the title story "The Secret Back of Things" is a puzzling piece hinting more than telling and leaving the reader to fill in the gaps. In the vivid and fascinating "Burning Questions," a monster teenager comes back home to fix a couple of injustices suffered during his childhood.

How unhappy being a kid can be is a theme effectively addressed also in the captivating "Pa-Kow," starting out as a kind of Twilight Zone tale, but then developing into a great story well rooted in reality, depicting the cruelty and the cowardice of some young lads towards schoolmates suddenly singled out as outcasts.

If you have never encountered Golden's fiction before, I strongly suggest you should give it a try.

Copyright © 2010 by Mario Guslandi

Mario Guslandi lives in Milan, Italy, and is a long-time fan of dark fiction. His book reviews have appeared on a number of genre websites such as The Alien Online, Infinity Plus, Necropsy, The Agony Column and Horrorwold.

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