For Halloween I’m returning to the motif of selling your soul.
Bauserman pitched an advanced copy of Some Dark Holler to me because I reviewed a collection of Manly Wade Wellman’s Silver John stories. I get a lot of these, usually with the author comparing their work to some colossus in the field. But I couldn’t resist, being a huge fan of both country noir and speculative fiction. I didn’t remotely expect Bauserman’s work to live up to that of Wellman, a master unequaled today in my eyes. Does Bauserman’s work live up to Wellman’s? I can hardly believe I’m writing this, but it very well may exceed it.
Some Dark Holler opens at the close of the Civil War. Death arrives at a meeting with Scratch (the Devil) and two of Scratch’s lackeys. A deal with the Devil will protect you from death for seven years. In return all you have to do is deliver another soul. William is his number one recruiter. The first chapter (you can listen to the audiobook version on YouTube) ends with Scratch sending William after a boy named Ephraim.
(There is actually a really cool explanation for Death’s involvement and how he works. Every human has a mortal imprint (“a kind of long shadow that trailed from his being and connected him to death”). That allows Death to collect without personally attending to it. If you sign a deal with the Devil, Death removes his imprint.)
Continue reading “SF: Some Dark Holler by Luke Bauserman”