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At Fear's Altar Paperback – October 31, 2012


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 258 pages
  • Publisher: Hippocampus Press (October 31, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1614980268
  • ISBN-13: 978-1614980261
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.5 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #642,070 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

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Horror stories should be dark, disquieting.
M. Griffin
He has a unique voice of his own and his stories feel fresh and visceral.
"Seregil of Rhiminee"
Following the prologue is one of the best stories in the collection.
Justin Steele

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Justin Steele on January 7, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Originally appeared on my blog, The Arkham Digest.

Canadian author Richard Gavin's first story collection Charnel Wine came off the press in 2004, and since then Gavin has had a steady stream of collections published. Omens was put out by Mythos Books in 2007, and two years later came The Darkly Splendid Realm. Halloween of 2012 saw the release of his most recent collection, At Fear's Altar, and boy is it a good one.

Gavin writes some of the best weird fiction I've had the pleasure of reading. The influence of all the masters is readily apparent: Lovecraft, Machen, Blackwood, and Ligotti. A keen reader can easily discern that this author lives for the weird, and he writes it oh so beautifully.

In his fourth collection Gavin offers a wonderful variety of tales, showcasing his different influences and making a strong case as to why Gavin's name should be on any shortlist of modern masters of the weird. At Fear's Altar contains thirteen (such an appropriate number) of stories, seven of which are original to this collection. And it must be said, that every single story is great. Gavin's style is sharp, and cuts neat.

Gavin kicks the collection off with a Prologue titled A Gate of Nerves. This short piece is the perfect way to open his collection, and serves to set the mood for what follows. The story follows a college student and her experience with a horrifying Asian parlor game. The imagery is excellent, the suspense builds, and after reading this prologue I knew I was in for something special.

Following the prologue is one of the best stories in the collection. Chapel in The Reeds is a greatly disturbing tale of an old man, his experience with an abandoned church, and his diminishing grip on reality.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By "Seregil of Rhiminee" on November 20, 2012
Format: Paperback
Richard Gavin's At Fear's Altar is an excellent collection of horror and dark fantasy stories. It's a brilliantly wonderful and disturbing collection for horror readers who want to read quality.

At Fear's Altar contains the following masterfully written stories:
- Prologue: A Gate of Nerves
- Chapel in the Reeds
- The Abject
- Faint Baying from Afar
- The Unbound
- A Pallid Devil, Bearing Cypress
- King Him
- The Plain
- Only Enuma Elish
- The Word-Made Flesh
- Annexation
- Darksome Leaves
- The Eldritch Faith

Classic horror, modern horror, weird fiction and cosmic horror are the key words which define the stories in this collection. I haven't read anything this good since I read Laird Barron's The Croning and Donald Michael Platt's A Gathering of Vultures. I have to mention that I was very impressed by this collection, because in my opinion this collection is slightly better than the previous collection, The Darkly Splendid Realm, which was an amazing achievement. I enjoyed each story (to be honest, I would've liked to read more stories).

At Fear's Altar is a delightful and shocking collection of dark and disturbing wonders to readers who love dark stories and weird fiction. Richard Gavin's writing combines classic and traditional horror with modern themes in a fascinating way. Richard Gavin's stories feel fresh, but they're loyal to the traditional stories, which form the basis of the everlasting popularity of weird fiction.

The prologue (A Gate of Nerves) creates a chilling atmosphere, because the protagonists have a weird gathering. The purpose of this gathering is to invoke an entity. I loved the way the author wrote about the gathering and what happened at the end of the story.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By M. Griffin on August 20, 2013
Format: Paperback
I kept reflecting, as I read Richard Gavin's fourth collection At Fear's Altar, about what horror fiction ought to be. Horror stories should be dark, disquieting. Too often what passes for "horror" is mundane or predictable. Whereas familiarity can be a virtue in some genres, where readers seek the recurring comfort of touchstones, horror by its very nature should unsettle.

Richard Gavin's work stands out as chillingly dark, wickedly strange and otherworldly. These stories have the heart-pounding feel of nightmare, and carry a strong suggestion of the numinous. Where other writers offer familiar monsters in comfortable territory, always stopping short of threatening the reader, Gavin explores the weird and surreal just as much as the horrific. His strength is conveying an otherness, something looming out there, threatening. There's a commonality with the cosmic horror of Lovecraft, but I find a greater kinship to the spooky occultism of Machen and Blackwood, whose best stories have at their heart a sense of something unknowable happening just out of view, completely out of proportion with human experience, and vibrating on an entirely different wavelength.

Highlights include "Chapel in the Reeds," in which an elderly man moves back home with his daughter, who doesn't want him there. The man wanders the countryside, seeming to shift into different realms, seeking a strange, mystic chapel, and speaking with his late wife. His young granddaughters are frightened when they witness his strange behavior, standing in the middle of a field, talking to no one. His daughter thinks he's disintegrating, while he remains focused on finding the chapel again. Whether his reality or his daughter's is most true, either possibility is disturbing.
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