Review: Rakefire by Jason Ray Carney

I know it’s stupid to judge a book by it’s cover, but I must admit the first few times I saw Rakefire I passed it over because the cover made me assume it was some sort of tentacle erotica. It wasn’t until the book was recommended to me in glowing terms that I finally gave it a look.

I was not disappointed. Rakefire is a truly excellent collection of dark fantasy stories taking place in the same imaginary universe. This is real dark fantasy of the Clark Ashton Smith variety – lush, decadent, and gleefully amoral. The atmosphere is reminiscent of CAS’ Zothique and Averoigne stories, but the prose is far more sleek and concise. Indeed almost everything about Rakefire is concise in the best possible way; I have seldom seen the art of worldbuilding practiced with such pleasing economy.

My three favorites from the collection are –

“Ink of the Slime Lord” – a wonderfully nihilistic tale featuring a very cool anti-heroine.

“One Less Hand for the Shaping of Things” – a genuinely touching story of love and death.

“Her Formless Temple” – another terrific story, beautifully structured, effortlessly evocative, short but seemingly epic in scope.

I hope there is another collection like this one on the way.