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The Croning Hardcover – May 1, 2012


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The Croning + The Light Is the Darkness + The Beautiful Thing That Awaits Us All: Stories
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Night Shade Books; 1st Ed edition (May 1, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1597802301
  • ISBN-13: 978-1597802307
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.3 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (57 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #760,579 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Laird Barron is the author of the novel The Croning and three collections of short fiction: The Imago Sequence, Occultation, and The Beautiful Thing That Awaits Us All. His work has appeared in manymagazines and anthologies. An expatriate Alaskan, Barron currently resides in the wilds of upstate New York.


More About the Author

Born and raised in Alaska, I did time in the wilderness. I raced in several Iditarods. Later, I got the hell out and migrated to Washington State where I devoted myself to American Combato and reading guys like Parker, Ellroy, and McCarthy. At night I wrote tales that smash up noir, crime and horror.

I currently reside in Upstate New York and am writing a novel about the evil that men do.

(photo courtesy JD Busch)

Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
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See all 57 customer reviews
Good character building for such a short novel as well.
Lee David Beers
Setting aside the complexity and weight of the narrative, this novel would still be a must-read for the unique style of the author's prose.
S. P. Miskowski
If you're a fan of weird fiction or if you simply love good horror novels, you must read The Croning.
"Seregil of Rhiminee"

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

51 of 53 people found the following review helpful By Justin Steele on May 1, 2012
Format: Hardcover
I remember when I read my first Laird Barron story, "Catch Hell", in Ellen Datlow's Lovecraft Unbound. When I finished reading the final page, I placed the book down, logged onto my Amazon account, and ordered his first story collection. A few days later it arrived, and I've been a fan ever since, devouring his second collection and novella when they were published.

With this in mind, it's fair to say that expectations were very high for The Croning. It's also fair to say that Mr. Barron not only meets those expectations, he beats them. He beats them bloody.

I've always been wary of the "perfect" review, but there really isn't much to find wrong with this novel. The plot comes together beautifully, the characters are very well realized, and the sense of dread pulsing in the background and steadily growing until the climax can only be done by a master. If this author's stories gave you nightmares, than this novel will take it a step further and give you all out night terrors.

This book would be a great start for anyone new to Barron's work, and will give an idea of how talented he is. Fans of anything reminiscent of Lovecraft's works or themes must read Barron. There's no question about it. Even fans of horror in general should pick this book up; what's between the covers will terrify anyone. Lastly, anyone who is already a Barron fan will be overjoyed by this novel. It's also great fun spotting all the connections to his other stories, which help to further his own horrifying "mythos".

Now that I'm finished I find myself re-reading all his short stories and eagerly awaiting more new fiction!
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28 of 29 people found the following review helpful By B. Henderson on May 13, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Pastiche of the secret society horror flicks of the 70s. A well-intentioned, well-grounded, and keenly self-aware homage to Lovecraft. Postmodern retelling of a certain fairy tale about a certain grubby critter what name begins with R. A cosmic custody battle.

What Laird Barron accomplishes, among so many other things in The Croning is a stitching together of tropes that call out from myth and fairy tale, from that odd blip of literary history where H.P. Lovecraft toiled on into the Friday nights and Saturday afternoons where horror movies rode those squelchy analog frequencies to scare the crap out of you if that was your thing when you hoped your TV antenna caught more than public television and one other channel. Then you wished it hadn't.

Don Miller is not a doughty protagonist. While he has his two-fisted moments, he's mostly an affable, absentminded professor married to a gorgeous anthropologist descended of aristocratic stock. Don's dirty work with rocks still keeps him separated from that jet-setting, trust-funding, old-money world through which Michelle will always navigate with more decorum than her husband could ever hope to summon. Barron takes us on a sixty-plus-year journey, rifling through shifting timelines and keeping focus tightened on Don's accretion of revelations about sudden trips to darker corners to Mexico or the Siberian taiga--all of it secondhand and colored by gaps and holes in Don's memories.

Because you can't hat-tip to Lovecraft, see, without screwing with your protagonist's mind, and Barron doesn't wait until the denouement to do this. He rather adroitly gets Don's brainpan Swiss cheesed in Act 1. In the 1950's. Then the 1980's. Yet again in the Now.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful By S. P. Miskowski on July 2, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Laird Barron's debut novel, published by Night Shade Books, opens with a fairy tale most readers will recognize: A miller's daughter spins straw into gold with the help of a strange, misshapen man who demands equally strange payment. When the spinning is done the miller's daughter marries the king, and must reward her magical benefactor with the gift of her firstborn son. The only escape from the contract is to guess the benefactor's real name by the time he returns to collect the child.

Assuming reader familiarity with at least one incarnation of this fairy tale, Barron describes the arduous journey undertaken by the queen's henchman-who is also her brother and lover-to ferret out the name of the benefactor. Barron's spin includes profane and anachronistic language, a canine sidekick, and a gruesome discovery: The benefactor is not a one-off con artist. He is ancient and mysterious, insinuating himself into the lives and dreams of thousands of people. He is and is not what he appears to be. And he has henchmen of his own.

Following the fairy tale we pick up our main story. Don Miller and Michelle Mock are married and by all appearances madly in love. His area of expertise is geology, hers is anthropology. Over the course of five decades they travel together and separately to remote places all around the globe. They have children. They grow old together. On paper this seems like a perfect marriage. Yet something has happened to cause a permanent, subterranean rift.

Beginning with a bizarre event in Mexico in 1958 Don and Michelle have taken different spiritual paths. Apparently successful and well matched, their surface lives conceal what may be irreconcilable differences.
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