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Lesser Demons Hardcover – April 30, 2010

4.5 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Partridge (Slippin' into Darkness) mixes hard-boiled detective fiction and pulp action horror with a touch of spaghetti westerns in this collection of 10 unsubtle and occasionally unskilled stories (all but one reprinted). His images can slip into the absurd at the wrong moment, and his prose is often clumsy, but his tales of zombie sheriffs (Lesser Demons), murderous vultures (Carrion), a criminal who encounters his idealized doppelgänger (Second Chance), and gigantic radioactive mutants (The Big Man) have plenty of entertainment value. Considerable inventiveness, an uninhibited sense of the gruesome, and vigorous pacing make this a collection of B-movies for the printed page, and though Partridge never quite equals the wit and strangeness of Joe R. Lansdale, his work will easily appeal to Lansdale's audience. (May)
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Norman Partridge writes with the economy and power of a Noir master. His new story collection, Lesser Demons, displays his unique ability to give a reader all the kick-ass pleasure of pulp suspense and action along with vibrant, complex characters and deep insight into the mythic hearts of distinctly American Nightmares. --Jeffrey Ford

Norman Partridge pulls no punches whether he is writing hard-boiled westerns, contemporary noir, or monster tales often combined. His stories will take you on a helluva ride. --Ellen Datlow

Norm Partridge is an extraordinary storyteller and his welding of noir and horror has created a signature style renowned for its lean, sinewy power. Lesser Demons is a brutal and unsettling collection from an author who has begun to cast a long shadow across the field. --Laird Barron

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 280 pages
  • Publisher: Subterranean; First edition (April 30, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1596062940
  • ISBN-13: 978-1596062948
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.1 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,385,196 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

30 words or less: A showcase of pulp heroics, sharp prose and dark horror, Lesser Demons delivers the American blend of horror quickly becoming synonymous with the name Norman Partridge.

My Rating: 4/5

Pros: Fantastic prose with a distinctive structure that reads smoothly; Stories that recall the pulp adventures of the past while delivering a second layer of commentary; Small town American characters that are recognizable and relatable.

Cons: While good, the majority of the stories share a similar voice and tone; Collection lacks a diverse set of characters; Surreal stories not as strong as the rest of them.

The Review: Norman Partridge is an American Horror writer. By that I don't mean he was born below Canada and above Mexico; I mean he's a writer, a damn good one, and when he writes horror, he writes American horror. Cowboys and criminals, lawmen and drifters, soldiers and strangers. Hard edged men forged from US steel who take whatever life gives them without complaint and chase it with shot of straight whiskey. Partridge's latest collection from the always impressive Subterranean Press is no different, full of characters ripped from the pages of classic westerns and noir mysteries. These men are given hell and more in the 10 stories that comprise Lesser Demons and Other Stories and with the rich prose that appears to be Partridge's trademark, it's hard not to enjoy their misery.

His prose reads like a well cooked cut of steak - thick, juicy, and oh so delicious. It's the kind of meal that you just close your eyes and savor, chewing slowly to enjoy every last bite. This analogy is an apt one as the stories in this collection are best enjoyed in the same way.
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There are many words that be can be used to describe "Lesser Demons", most of which have already been used in recent reviews. To be succinct, here's two: Masterful and Effortless. Partridge's control of his narrative never wavers. He exhibits firm control of every story, but sacrifices neither suspense nor unpredictability.

Also, though most everyone understands that the writing process itself takes great, painstaking effort - which Partridge clearly has taken - these stories read with an effortless ebb and flow. For discerning readers this is of great importance, in an age when so many writers produce "stock and store" stories that require more effort to read than perhaps their creation required. Picking the "best" stories in a collection this fine may be a fruitless task, however...

"Second Chance", a story about a con-man seeking revenge, only to be beaten to it by someone closer to him than he can possibly imagine; "Lesser Demons", a delightful contemporary spin on the classic Lovecraftian trope of summoning the unspeakable from the ether; "Carrion", a tale about a boarded up old house out in the desert, a house brimming with a dark evil from a twisted world that infects the soul of all who encounter it; "The Fourth Stair Up From the Second Landing", a tale sporting a rich narrative about a woman and son who can never escape the shadow of the father...
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If you’re looking to support Edgar Allan Poe’s assertion that the short story is the most effective means of conveying “terror, or passion, or horror, or a multitude of such other points,” you don’t need to look any further than three recent releases, all featuring definitive proof that the short story is alive and well and thriving, at least in the horror genre. One, Darkness, is an anthology featuring stories from 1984 through 2005. The other two, The Best of Joe R. Lansdale and Norman Partridge’s Lesser Demons, are one author collections; Lansdale’s showcases bits and pieces from his entire career, while Partridge’s features more recent work.

The pick of this impressive litter has to be Datlow’s Darkness. As a concept, it must have seemed a can’t miss proposition, what with Datlow, one of the top editors in the horror and fantasy genre, selecting her favorites tales from over two decades, beginning in 1984, the year Clive Barker’s landmark Books of Blood premiered. Indeed, Barker’s “Jacqueline Ess: Her Will and Testament,” opens the book, then cedes the stage, in rapid succession, to “Dancing Chickens,” by Edward Bryant, “The Greater Festival of Masks,” by Thomas Ligotti, and “The Pear-Shaped Man,” by George R. R. Martin. What follows from there is an eclectic and entertaining smorgasbord of horror, with entries from old dependables such as Peter Straub (“The Juniper Tree”), Stephen King (“Chattery Teeth”), and Ramsey Campbell (“No Strings”) balanced by tales from relative newcomers like the gifted Kelly Link (“The Specialist’s Hat”), Glenn Hirshberg (“Dancing Men”) and Joe Hill (“My Father’s Mask”).

As you might expect, the contents of The Best of Joe Lansdale are wide and varied, reflecting Lansdale’s broad range.
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