With “Home,” Buckingham’s put out a work of dark fantasy of the kind to make Caitlín R. Kiernan smile, and yet the work’s not derivative or copy-cattish, not of Kiernan’s work, or that of anyone else. Instead, the tale is all Buckingham.
In “Home,” a young girl, Kate Kavanagh, and her best friend Lucille Sullivan, visit a carnival, and specifically, the tent of Madame Samedi. Cards are read, and the stories they tell are not only dark, but true, so much so, that the card reading crone burns the deck, and thus the the work takes off.
With “Home,” one of the most impressive things that struck, was the author’s bravery in writing a narrative-heavy tale, a style that’s not currently the trend of having nearly every scene an immediate scene, loaded with action and dialogue. A bit jarring at first, I believe the gamble paid off, the format giving “Home” the voice needed to properly impart the tale, and without completely jettison the powerful impact of both dialogue and action, of which the work does have plenty of both.
In terms of straight writing, Buckingham again does a fine job. Yes, there’s a handful of errors sprinkled throughout, mostly backward-facing apostrophes used with back-ended contractions, like “‘em,” but these two are forgivable, what with their number far less than the number of gremlins that Leisure allowed through with their many years of putting out spooky titles.
Ultimately what hits with “Home,” is the writer’s ability to pull the reader into the tale, and hold them, page after page after just-one-more, I’ll be fine getting up to work in the morning. Read in two sitings, the work culminates with its climax and then ends, the way a tale should. With that last page read, I felt contrary feelings; one) disappointment that my time with Jenny, a voice in the dark, and with the “Rat boys,” and their faithful service, were all come to an end; and two) gratitude that the writer, again, was brave enough to end the tale right where she should.
A great story should be like the tip of an iceberg, with the tale above the waterline, but a whole world sensed below. Thus is the case with “Home.”
Carson Buckingham, thank you for the fine ride.
And if I’ve gotten your attention, where can I find your next title?
Rob M. Miller