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Children of the Fang and Other Genealogies

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John Langan, author of the Bram Stoker Award-winning novel The Fisherman, returns with a new book of stories. An aspiring actress goes to an audition with a mysterious director. An editor receives the last manuscript of his murdered friend. A young lawyer learns the terrible connection between her grandfather and an ancient race of creatures. A bodyguard drives her employer John Langan, author of the Bram Stoker Award-winning novel The Fisherman, returns with a new book of stories. An aspiring actress goes to an audition with a mysterious director. An editor receives the last manuscript of his murdered friend. A young lawyer learns the terrible connection between her grandfather and an ancient race of creatures. A bodyguard drives her employer across a frozen road toward an immense hole in the earth. In these stories and others, John Langan maps the branches of his literary family tree, tracing his connections to the writers whose dark fictions have inspired his own.


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John Langan, author of the Bram Stoker Award-winning novel The Fisherman, returns with a new book of stories. An aspiring actress goes to an audition with a mysterious director. An editor receives the last manuscript of his murdered friend. A young lawyer learns the terrible connection between her grandfather and an ancient race of creatures. A bodyguard drives her employer John Langan, author of the Bram Stoker Award-winning novel The Fisherman, returns with a new book of stories. An aspiring actress goes to an audition with a mysterious director. An editor receives the last manuscript of his murdered friend. A young lawyer learns the terrible connection between her grandfather and an ancient race of creatures. A bodyguard drives her employer across a frozen road toward an immense hole in the earth. In these stories and others, John Langan maps the branches of his literary family tree, tracing his connections to the writers whose dark fictions have inspired his own.

30 review for Children of the Fang and Other Genealogies

  1. 4 out of 5

    Sadie Hartmann Mother Horror

    First things first, the introduction to this book, written by Stephen Graham Jones, is so choice. Bonus points right away for mentioning one of my favorite childhood stories ever: The Monster at the End of This Book (narrated by your lovable ol’ pal, Grover). Dr. Jones goes on to say, “John Langan, both delivering us some compelling horror but at the same time interrogating the basic form of horror.” That’s how this collection feels to me too: On its face, twenty-one stories of horror. Underneath First things first, the introduction to this book, written by Stephen Graham Jones, is so choice. Bonus points right away for mentioning one of my favorite childhood stories ever: The Monster at the End of This Book (narrated by your lovable ol’ pal, Grover). Dr. Jones goes on to say, “John Langan, both delivering us some compelling horror but at the same time interrogating the basic form of horror.” That’s how this collection feels to me too: On its face, twenty-one stories of horror. Underneath it all, horror deconstructed and inhaled by the reader. It’s a part of you now. It informs you. A perfect example of this is the second story, “Hyphae.” I can’t stop thinking about this story. It has penetrated beyond my mind’s natural order of things and has taken root in my fears. I have a new fear. I can’t tell you what this is because I want people to read this story with all the points of discovery intact—just the way I read it. I stumbled around in a dank, smelly, old house while James looked for his father; the father is found and… …a new fear is born. Enjoy! (I say that menacingly because I want other readers to see what I can’t unsee.) Sandwiched in between longer stories are some amusing tales that leave you hungry. One of these is “Zombies in Marysville.” Langan entices his readers with the perfect setup, then hides the rest of the story in the archives of his imagination. I enjoyed this because I was still thinking about it when I started the next story, and it’s that kind of crossover that feels intentional on Langan’s behalf. “Into the Darkness, Fearlessly” is one of my favorite stories. In classic Langan fashion, our tale opens with a story within a story. A professional editor finds a manuscript the morning after (the morning after what? You’ll see) from his client, Linus Price. It’s title is A Grammar of Dread, A Catechism of Terror. Just even reading this title sends the editor into a physical state. This leads to the editor meditating on his relationship with Linus and Linus’s wife, Dominika. The storytelling here is so absorbing! I swear as I type this, the world utterly disappeared as the drama swallowed me whole. Also noteworthy: I love books about writing and writers, don’t you? The fourth wall is slightly transparent as Langan peels back the curtain, revealing to his readers the world of writers from a fictional POV. One more note: I don’t know how to say what needs to be said without sounding like a creep, so have grace for me? Some writers don’t write sensuality or sex scenes that read real. The sex in this particular story proves that it can enhance authenticity instead of harm. Lastly, before I carry on too long, the title story, Children of the Fang, is everything I have grown to admire about Langan’s writing—atmospheric descriptions, mysterious found-footage, rich mythical lore about ancient creatures or beings—it’s almost as if Langan challenges his audience to engage with his stories on a cultural level; an understanding that readers will bring with them their historical context or religious worldview. This kind of interaction means that everyone will have their own, unique experience based on the personal lens one wears while they read. Personally, Langan is my standard by which all other short stories are measured. There is something in this collection that will stand out as your favorite, relish your time in these Genealogies to find it.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Paul

    That John's new collection CHILDREN OF THE FANG would be brilliant (and freakin' scary) wasn't a question. But, jesus, the audacity, range, scope, and humanity of his imagination within his continued interrogation of genre and literary influence is, frankly, awe-inspiring. The only question for me was how many stories would employ a cactus. (answer: one). I love John's big terrible brain and look forward to eating it one day.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Becky Spratford

    Review Appeared in the August 2020 Issue of Booklist and on the blog: https://raforall.blogspot.com/2020/08... Three Words That Describe This Book: immersive, atmospheric lyrical You can suggest this collection to fans of an emerging class of stellar horror writers who have been inspired by Langan himself such as Usman Malik, Rachel Eve Moulton, and Silvia Moreno-Garcia. Review Appeared in the August 2020 Issue of Booklist and on the blog: https://raforall.blogspot.com/2020/08... Three Words That Describe This Book: immersive, atmospheric lyrical You can suggest this collection to fans of an emerging class of stellar horror writers who have been inspired by Langan himself such as Usman Malik, Rachel Eve Moulton, and Silvia Moreno-Garcia.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Christopher

    John Langan is almost certainly my favorite living author. But if you are new to his writing I would not recommend starting here. He shines best in the longer form short stories and novel length writings and the short and clippy stories that, for the most part, make up this collection do not do his prodigious talents the full justice that the three other collections he has released do. That being said, the longest story in here, 'Children of the Fang', from which the collection takes its collect John Langan is almost certainly my favorite living author. But if you are new to his writing I would not recommend starting here. He shines best in the longer form short stories and novel length writings and the short and clippy stories that, for the most part, make up this collection do not do his prodigious talents the full justice that the three other collections he has released do. That being said, the longest story in here, 'Children of the Fang', from which the collection takes its collective name, is one of those longer emotionally complex and freaky Langan stories we all know and love par excellence. And that tale alone is worth the price of admission with everything else just a nice, if less interesting, bonus.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Neil McRobert

    This is a bumper crop of short fiction. In the substantial story notes (which I always enjoy) the author mentions the feeling of cracking open a big collection - King's Skeleton Crew, or Barker's Books of Blood, for example, and Children of the Fang does have that vibe. Indeed, it has a LOT of vibes - with each story seeming to pay homage to at least one horror luminary. This isn;t to say that they don't have their own voice - they most definitely do - but that the tradition, or 'genealogy' as L This is a bumper crop of short fiction. In the substantial story notes (which I always enjoy) the author mentions the feeling of cracking open a big collection - King's Skeleton Crew, or Barker's Books of Blood, for example, and Children of the Fang does have that vibe. Indeed, it has a LOT of vibes - with each story seeming to pay homage to at least one horror luminary. This isn;t to say that they don't have their own voice - they most definitely do - but that the tradition, or 'genealogy' as Langan puts it, of horror fiction is present throughout. John Langan is quite the literary ventriloquist, but he also has a set of tools that are very much his own. One of those tools is his ability to create small, tight stories that hint at a larger scale. Several of these tales are fragments of a national, global, or even cosmic crisis - and though they leave you salivating for more, that's where the power is, in the events beyond the margins that Langan only alludes to. He does it several times, and those stories have left me thinking about what might still be going on in those worlds. One example, the sotruy "Inundation" does this t0 marvellous effect - with the events of single moment in a single suburban street standing in for the whole tapestry of a reality-changing cosmic event. It's unlikely that every story will satisfy every reader. A couple, such as the uber-cosmic "Ymir", the technohorror "Irezumi", and the oh-so-weird "Vista" left me a little cold and longing for the good stuff. By that I mean either his fun meta takes on the writing industry and his own coterie of writer-friends (in "Muse" and "Into the Darkness, Fearlessly") or the old-school weirdness of "Children of the Fang" and "Episode Three: On the Great Plains, in the Snow". This last features nothing short of a ghost tyrannosaur caught in a re-enactment of the Indian Wars. I mean, what's not to love? I heartily recommend the collection to all fans of horror, weird, science-fiction or old school pulp. There is a lot of literary expertise on display in Children of the Fang, and Other Genealogies, but mostly it's just absolute blast.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Jon Hilty

    John Langan, man. This guy knows what he's doing. The stories within this collection are from a variety of sources, with one original to the collection. The plots and styles are, not surprisingly, varied as a result. Most of the stories here were great; personal favorites include "Sweetums" and the stretch of stories from "With Max Barry in the Nearer Precincts" to "Ymir". The story notes at the end list what authors, directors, etc. he was inspired by while writing them, and it's a solid list o John Langan, man. This guy knows what he's doing. The stories within this collection are from a variety of sources, with one original to the collection. The plots and styles are, not surprisingly, varied as a result. Most of the stories here were great; personal favorites include "Sweetums" and the stretch of stories from "With Max Barry in the Nearer Precincts" to "Ymir". The story notes at the end list what authors, directors, etc. he was inspired by while writing them, and it's a solid list of folks. Most, I can't claim an extreme level of familiarity with (e.g. Stephen King or Peter Straub; both on my list) but there was some Michael Cisco, some Laird Barron, some David Lynch, etc. Always great to see story notes and authors giving credit or praise or whatever to others. And always great to see new John Langan material available.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Alex Khlopenko

    RTC

  8. 5 out of 5

    David Samuels

    These were pretty good! Although it opened with some weak stories, there's also a few gems in here as well. I found the incorrect usage of hyphens a little distracting, though.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Logan Noble

    Longer review incoming!

  10. 5 out of 5

    Justin Lewis

    I think the best way to start this is with a comment I made on Twitter a couple weeks ago- I've never read a book so inhabited by worlds. Almost every single story made me want more time with them, more time in those settings, and more time with these characters. I've never read world-building like this before and it blew me away. And not just one world, but over 20 of them, some with ancient histories that go back and some that go beyond. This collection is mostly comprised of stories Langan wro I think the best way to start this is with a comment I made on Twitter a couple weeks ago- I've never read a book so inhabited by worlds. Almost every single story made me want more time with them, more time in those settings, and more time with these characters. I've never read world-building like this before and it blew me away. And not just one world, but over 20 of them, some with ancient histories that go back and some that go beyond. This collection is mostly comprised of stories Langan wrote for anthologies that were dedicated to particular authors and some of the fun in reading this for me was seeing if I could detect the influence of that author. They influenced Langan in one way or another, and therefore became part of his writing, part of his genealogy (hence the title). It's a really unique way to unify these stories without there being any actual connections between them. The Story Notes actually provide great insight on the influences for the stories and I found myself flipping to the back after each one to see what I could learn about whichever guiding star (his words) led him to write what I'd read. I think I only guessed one right, but it was still fun! If I have to pick three favorites (and this is hard): 1. With Max Berry In The Nearer Precincts - a story about the light at the end of the tunnel (or is it?) 2. Children of the Fang - a story about a family but also about an entire race and culture of...something else 3. Episode Three: On The Great Plains, In The Snow - a ghost story, but not like any you've read before And what range! There are stories that happen in the afterlife, stories about ghosts, about beasts, about other dimensions...there's a little (or a lot) here for everyone. Some of it is terrifying, but personally, I was more often filled with wonder and awe at the worlds he constructed. It took me a long time for me to finish this because I wanted to savor each story. Should you decide to embark on these journeys (and you really really should), don't rush because the details in these stories are worth appreciating.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Laurel

    Wow. Langan is one of those authors I can be completely certain I'll be drawn into his work, and his latest collection is no exception. My biggest conflict is deciding whether his short stories or his longer fiction is better, and to that I've finally just decided, both. Children of the Fang is a widely varied collection, spanning tone, subject matter, and levels of horror. The recurring theme is a distinct and imitable ability to get under the skin of the reader, unsettle you in every way. It's Wow. Langan is one of those authors I can be completely certain I'll be drawn into his work, and his latest collection is no exception. My biggest conflict is deciding whether his short stories or his longer fiction is better, and to that I've finally just decided, both. Children of the Fang is a widely varied collection, spanning tone, subject matter, and levels of horror. The recurring theme is a distinct and imitable ability to get under the skin of the reader, unsettle you in every way. It's hard not to be pulled into these stories and feel like there's a truth in them you need to be afraid of - simply closing the book or turning off your kindle isn't going to help you escape that feeling. I can say without question that there is no weak link in this group of stories, that each and every one was enjoyable, and made me think. Standout favorites include Muse, with a fun shout out to current horror authors with a deeply unsettling ending, With Max Berry in the Nearer Precincts, which deals with a unique, horrifying, but somehow aesthetic look at the afterlife, Episode Three: On the Great Plains, in the Snow, which was another, and completely different, haunting look at being a ghost, The Horn of the World's Ending, with a spin on classic mythology, and the story that ends the collection, Slippage. That one contained more fun references, together with glancing references to terror, and a feeling that the world is only one slip away from the nightmares we ourselves create. If you haven't read John Langan, do yourself a favor. It's a reading experience you won't walk away from unscathed.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Ross Macpherson

    Most of the included stories are bloated, far longer than they need to be to achieve their effect. The writing is mixed: some striking and precise but almost every story contains at least one sloppy phrase that needed another draft. Most demonstrate the clear amount of research Langan puts into his work, but often to the detriment of a story; too often it feels like he has included everything he has learned, like a diligent but not gifted student, who throws down everything on the page without a Most of the included stories are bloated, far longer than they need to be to achieve their effect. The writing is mixed: some striking and precise but almost every story contains at least one sloppy phrase that needed another draft. Most demonstrate the clear amount of research Langan puts into his work, but often to the detriment of a story; too often it feels like he has included everything he has learned, like a diligent but not gifted student, who throws down everything on the page without any attempt to analyse or synthesise. My chief objection is that many of these stories were written for themed anthologies, etc. and these stories for me do not move enough beyond their inspiration. To take the title story as an example, in my opinion it is less inspired by Lovecraft than rewriting Lovecraft. It was a story that never once surprised me or gave me the frisson that comes from a new idea. You could argue that this is a good quality of course.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Matt

    John Langan is an absolute genius and treasure that we are not worthy of. This collection of stories is a mind bending, reality questioning, seep into your skin, horror injection that will stick with you. When I had to do things like work, eat, bathe, be normal, I decided instead to read this. And when I finished it I had a tough time not going back and rereading it. There are things in here that you haven't seen and probably shouldn't see, but let's be honest, you'll want to see them because it John Langan is an absolute genius and treasure that we are not worthy of. This collection of stories is a mind bending, reality questioning, seep into your skin, horror injection that will stick with you. When I had to do things like work, eat, bathe, be normal, I decided instead to read this. And when I finished it I had a tough time not going back and rereading it. There are things in here that you haven't seen and probably shouldn't see, but let's be honest, you'll want to see them because it's Langan. Get this book and be ready to experience something terrifying.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Jeremiah Dylan Dylan

    I may do a longer review at some point, but for now I will say that I particularly enjoyed the collection's namesake, Sweetums, Ymir, The Horn of the World's Ending, and The Communion of Saints. As always, Mr. Langan delivers many spooky, entertaining, and thought-provoking tales. I can't wait to read whatever he puts out next.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Elizabeth

    An amazing way to spend some time during the pandemic. Langan writes with such ease—there’s an elasticity to his prose that I greatly admire. I also dig his sense of humor...and the author’s notes! I will keep buying his books....he’s a great voice.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Ian Grochowsky

    Multiple stories left me aghast. None left me cold. You will enjoy this even more if you have knowledge of weird fiction/horror authors and tropes

  17. 5 out of 5

    Amanda

    A decent collection but not his best. More parts of stories then anything full fledged. Still enjoyable.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Corey Farrenkopf

    This is an excellent collection of Horror stories. Definitely don't miss out on it if you love Weird Fiction and Meta Horror!!!

  19. 4 out of 5

    Jake

  20. 5 out of 5

    Andrew

  21. 5 out of 5

    Joe Scipione

  22. 5 out of 5

    Alvin

  23. 5 out of 5

    Joe

  24. 4 out of 5

    Andrew Horton

  25. 4 out of 5

    Spolk

  26. 4 out of 5

    Mister

  27. 4 out of 5

    Jesper Mikkelsen

  28. 5 out of 5

    Zach

  29. 5 out of 5

    Sally

  30. 4 out of 5

    Christine G.

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