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Thursday, September 2, 2021

Book review: A Song For The Void by Andrew C. Piazza

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Order A Song For The Void HERE


About Andrew: Andrew C. Piazza makes it a point to keep people up at night with chilling and thrilling tales of contemporary fantasy and cosmic horror. He's quite ruthless about this sort of thing. He doesn't care that you have to get up for work. He doesn't care that you're supposed to be on vacation. Or the fact that your dog really needs to be walked, or your kids are suffering from terrible neglect. He just keeps making you turn the page. It's almost rude.

He's hit the #1 bestseller list in four categories and would have gotten a fifth if it weren't for that pesky Dean Koontz. Gosh, Dean, make a LITTLE bit of room for the new guy, hunh?

He lives mostly in his daydreams in an undisclosed location outside of Philadelphia, PA.

Publication date: July 15, 2020 Page count: 347 p (paperback). Cover art by Miblart

OVERVIEW: A Song For The Void is an excellent example of cosmic horror. Filled with powerful, unsettling imagery, it depicts the horrors that come both from within the mind and from beyond the stars. What can I say? I enjoy being dragged into the dark corners of the world and the human soul, and this book has it all. The sense of dread, philosophical depth, and engaging plot. 

The story takes place on the high seas during the Opium Wars in 1853. The crew of the HMS Charger, a British warship pursuing pirates, encounters a creature from beyond the stars (known as Darkstar) that drives them mad (I oversimplify things). Doctor Edward Pearce struggles with an addiction to opioids and with his past. When most of the crew members experience hallucinations, he must face personal and cosmic horrors to discover the truth and do something about it. Forced to stare into the nothing, he'll have to come up with a reason to live or die.

We have all seen monsters rip people to shreds, but the truly horrifying thing is that we do not understand the very nature of the reality we live in. Andrew Piazza skillfully creates an atmosphere of terror and uneasiness. He pays attention to small details, but never forgets that the story must remain engaging and entertaining to hold the attention of the readers. He balances slower moments with exciting, energetic action, all leading to dark revelations. No scene is wasted here.

Darkstar is a creature of lies and illusion. It loves to play with people and their limited perception of reality. It alters their minds and senses, making them see things that are not there or changing the appearance of objects. Darkstar perceives people as pathetic apes, deluding themselves with the illusion of transcendence, while they are nothing more than meat and bones driven by flawed senses.

These plotlines allow Piazza to question the nature of consciousness and identity. What are we, really, when injury or mind-altering substances can transform our behavior and perception of reality? Why would anyone believe in a transcendent, permanent soul that lives within us when a stroke or brain injury is enough to dramatically (and permanently) change us? In other words:

“There is no you, and there is no me. We’re all just clockwork marionettes made of meat, with gears inside that we don’t understand. We simply dance to whatever tune those gears tell us to, and make up a story afterwards to tell ourselves why."

The book doesn't offer cheap consolations; It acknowledges that, ultimately, we mean nothing and there may be no intrinsic meaning to our lives. Each of us, can, however, find meaning for ourselves and make the life worth living.  

I loved this book; it kept me glued to the pages, genuinely crept me out, and, above all, made me obsessively think about it and its themes. With its excellent and psychologically sound characterization and fascinating plot, it's a true indie horror gem.

CONCLUSION: A Song for The Void is one of the best horror novels I have ever read. The engaging narrative, suggestive descriptions, and disturbing atmosphere make reading it a pure pleasure. It’s intelligent (and hopeful!) take on nihilistic philosophy underpinning the cosmic horror genre. 


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