Every year, I try to discover new authors based on recommendations or just pure browsing, and every now and then I find a gem that changes me to the core. Not necessarily because that particular book is superior to the others (so many great books are out there), but because it touches my dark soul the most, because it pushes all my buttons. Let me introduce you to John Langan’s mighty novel, The Fisherman.
Based on the blurb, I wasn’t sure what to think. Two guys, marred by grief, fishing. I had to admit, it didn’t sound like anything exciting, especially for a horror novel, but the Horror Writers Association doesn’t just give a Bram Stoker Award for your pretty eyes. It also had raving reviews from its readers and basically every horror review site I follow, so I picked it up as a paperback (after reading the book, the cover got a new meaning, and since, I find it even more stunning). And I’m so glad I did. The Fisherman is one of the most well-written, most epic horror novels I’ve ever read.
It starts with Abe and Dan who both have tragically lost their families and are trying to get over the events. They find some happiness in each other’s company and their new hobby: fishing. But Dutchman’s Creek, the place where they decide to fish next, has a dark past and an unholy presence lurking around it. They learn about the Fisherman and his still existing powers, which enwrapes them with its powerful melancholy.
This novel is literary, terrifying, and epic at the same time. The beasties in my head would categorise it as weird fiction with a hint of dark fantasy. It’s a story within a story within a story; a delicious story cake; daring and masterful. Every horror fan will find something in it: great character portrayal, epic storytelling, cosmic terror, psychological horror, a strong theme, and mystery. Add beautifully crafted prose to this mix and voila, you have crafted a bestial, unholy masterpiece that will devour your attention. I cannot recommend it highly enough. I will definitely read more from John Langan, and I will most definitely revisit the world of the mighty Fisherman.
A taster from the novel:
“I don’t know if you’ve spent time in the Catskills. From a distance, say, the parking lot of the old Caldor’s (which became an Ames that became a Stop ‘N’ Shop) in Huguenot, they’ve always made me think of a herd of giant animals, all standing grazing on the horizon. Up close, when you’re driving among them with the early morning light breaking over their round peaks, they seem incredibly present, more real than real, these huge solid heaps of rock that wear their trees like mile-long scarves. You glance at them, trying to keep your eyes on the road, which is already pretty busy with people driving up for a weekend getaway, and somehow you wouldn’t be surprised if the mountain closest to you were to cast off its trees in one titanic shrug and start to lumber away, a vast, unimaginable beast. When you turn off onto whatever secondary road you need to take, and you’re following its twists and turns back into the mountains, and the ground is steep to either side of you, opening every now and then on a meadow, or an old house, you think, Here, there are secret places.”
― John Langan, The Fisherman