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Creatures of Clay and other stories of the Macabre

by Stephen Sennitt
Diagonal/Headpress 2003, 7.99, 128pp, p/bk. ISBN 1-900486-25-3

It's nice to see all of Stephen Sennitt's fiction collected into one volume, including one of my long-time favourites The Black Idol (originally released in the Sarcophagus Press collection, Xenos). The tales in this collection range from unashamed pulp stories to Lovecraft-inspired pieces, and fragmented shards of dreams and nightmare.

Sennitt's characters are deliberately flat; depthless. The protagonist of The Night Barge for example, is just 'looking for something to do' - and when that 'something' turns out to be loading piles of corpses, accepts his lot with an unreflective equinamity. In this collection, intrusions of the uncanny are simply accepted by those who encounter them as if they are welcome breaks from an otherwise monotonous existence. History, biography and explanation of why something is happening are all absent.

Creatures of Clay is well-presented, echoing the 1970's pulp genre - the text laid out in 2-column format, juxtaposed with Sean Madden's evocative illustrations. If you're a fan of occult-inspired horror, then you might find Creatures of Clay a welcome diversion from the current crop of Anne Rice/Clive Barker wannabes. - Phil Hine