Sep 022016

Cover for Hammers on Bone by Cassandra KhawPublishers Weekly: Horror author Khaw (Rupert Wong, Cannibal Chef) brilliantly combines the self-aware, on-point tone of her gumshoe narrator with the invasive rhythm of the language of pulsing terrors. The drearily everyday is infused with Lovecraftian dread in a marvelously horrifying, tightly built novella that spins a satisfying tale while doing honor to both of its core sources. London PI John Persons, whose “stubbornly human” form disguises his horrifying true nature, reluctantly takes a job for 11-year-old Abel—killing the boy’s abusive stepfather—after hearing Abel’s rationale for choosing him: “You’re a monster too.” Persons’s name is apt: he is desperate to hold on to his humanity and his compassion, and he refuses to give in entirely to his inner urges, which want to “rip tear bite cut” in response to his target’s testosterone-fueled insults. His struggle hooks the reader, cutting deeply without losing the characteristic emotional distance of the noir style. Khaw’s mash-up of gritty and eldritch is anything but incongruous, and the story is self-contained while leaving the door wide open for Persons’s next case.