[REVIEW] A Lush and Seething Hell by John Hornor Jacobs


By John Hornor Jacobs

Before you become an avid fan of a writer, you have to first discover them. A Lush and Seething Hell is my starting point with John Hornor Jacobs, an articulate writer that has stolen my attention with ease. For those who do not yet know, this book is actually composed of two separate stories: one a novella, and the other a short novel. Both are extremely well written, poetic in an indirect sense, and largely dramatic until their later sequences (in which cosmic horror creeps its way to the forefront).

The first story, The Sea Dreams it is the Sky, takes place in South America, and centers around an exiled poet and the teacher he befriends. At its core, this novella is about an odd friendship in which something is always off. Our poet has left for his home country – one that has become violent and tumultuous – leaving behind our narrator, who then takes up residence in the poet’s empty home. There, she reads his texts, which grow bizarre and unsettling. Though I was, admittedly, a little confused by its conclusion, the story captivated me throughout. I can’t even explain why, but there was something about the Eye that left me wanting to know his entire life. Just the glimpse we get here – albeit horrific – is royally satisfying.

The second story, My Heart Struck Sorrow, follows several librarians (past and present) as they chase the various renditions of devilish song from the Deep South. Cromwell (the man of the present) becomes obsessed with the hidden recordings and journals of Harlan Parker (the man of the past), which become increasingly strange as Parker starts seeking a man who is reveled to know beyond fifty songs. Though this novel did drag a little at times, the writing was always as wonderful as the story was interesting. Having gotten my start in music journalism, I loved the talk of cutting vinyl and using the SoundScriber. The final chapters were also surprising and odd, ultimately begging the question, “What is the cause and why of anything?” The ride was a little drawn out, but fascinating and unique.

I loved both stories and their imbalance between the dramatic and the cosmic. Jacobs is also an incredible writer, making A Lush and Seething Hell a lethal combination of talent and disturbance. You can bet I’ll be on the lookout for his previous work, and quick to sign my name for anything upcoming.

4.5 out of 5

You can purchase the book here.

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