The Croning - Laird Barron
Initial Review Before I Was Able To Gather My Thoughts:

This is the best book I've read in years. I'm in awe of Laird Barron.

My friends who have this marked as to-read, move it up your list for lord's sake. I'll try to write a more comprehensive review at a later time but for now I'm just going to let it all sink in.

REAL Review:

I finished The Croning two days ago and I am still thinking about the epic scope and terror this novel is packing.

Cosmic horror never has really scared me. Lovecraft never has, I just enjoy the whole mythology aspect of his stories. The Croning is everything that Ligotti or Lovecraft ever hoped that their stories would be, and more. It's a novel that filled me with dread and terror on an unsurpassed level. It made me fill how small and unimportant I was in this universe, a feeling Lovecraft always set out to convey in his stories but, in my honest opinion, was never truly successful at doing.

The Croning is also at its heart about a marriage and that marriage acts as the frame from which the whole story is based around, with the husband, Don, being the protagonist.

And whilst this marriage is important the story is truly frightening, because it is Don's story more than his wife Michelle's. It's a story about how at over eighty years of age Don's world, and his sanity along with it, begins to fall apart because everything he has ever known, his marriage, his successful career, his family, they all turn out to be lies in some respect. And it is brutal because I can't imagine what this character was going through.

The story wasn't just scary on these psychological aspects though, it also packed a bunch with some creepy old school monsters, but I'm not going to give much away because that could ruin the whole story for you. I'll just say that some portions if this story, like when Don's son tells a story about when he worked at a department store as a teenager, kept me awake at night. They were just that creepy.

I also really liked the characters especially Michelle, Don's wife. She is one of the most complicated and complex characters I've read about in years and I think it is just perfect that she was featured on the cover. That scar on her face comes to later define her in this book, so it just naturally works that the cover gives us a good look at it.

The one thing about this story that truly amazed me is how Laird Barron managed to write the damn thing. There is just no way a writer should be able to set up a story like this and plan it out and make it so complex. It really defies logic.

This is a great story and for any seasoned fan of dark fantasy, cosmic horror, weird fiction, or just straight up horror, this is a must read. And I mean that in the most serious way.

My Highest Recommendation:

5 hollowed-out-by-the-children-of-old-leech stars out of 5 and best book of the year so far.