Saturday, 18 July 2015

The End of the Trail by Louis Rakovich

"A barren land of salt and snow; a castle where underground paths twist and turn in endless circles and a reclusive king who has not shown his face in years; a forest where few things are what they seem. An unnamed hero must navigate through these places as he takes on the task of tracking down a supposed witch, in a story that blends dream and reality, rumor and truth, danger and hope."

Louis Rakovich is an extremely promising writer emerging in the horror/dark fantasy field.  I’ve been lucky enough to secure his excellent short story, There Used to be Places, for the Dark Lane Anthology: Volume Two.  This led me to checking out some of his other work.  He’s already had work published in Devilfish Review, Firewords Quarterly, and Goldfish Grimm, amongst others.  He's also recently launched his novelette, The End of the Trail, onto the world which I was eager to read.

I wasn’t disappointed.  The only criticism I have of this story is that I wanted it to be longer.  There are more original ideas and imagery in The End of the Trail than some authors put into a full-length novel, and the author could easily have fleshed it out if he’d wanted to.  Having said that, the story’s brevity gives it a haunting quality that leaves the reader wondering about this world they've been given a glimpse of and the characters who populate it.

The story tells of the unnamed narrator who lives and works in a salt mine, until  being summoned by the queen and told he’s the only man who can save the dying king.  To do this he must track down the witch who the queen believes has put a curse on her husband.  This mission takes him on a strange dreamlike journey. 

The End of the Trail reads like a dark, adult fairytale.  Though short, it’s packed with tiny details which bring the world and its people to vivid life.  The author shows an admirable knack for ‘world-building’ and fills his tale with striking and memorable imagery.  I especially liked this:

“As I fought to stay awake, her eyes were looking at me like the eyes of an animal in the dark.  They were still there when I drifted off.”

 A quick, enjoyable read; and a writer worth keeping an eye on for the future.
Visit the author's website to find out more.

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