book review: baltimore

Mike Mignola and Christopher Golden’s Baltimore is an illustrated novel about a vampire plague. It’s told by three men who’ve been summoned by Lord Baltimore to a City under siege not by armies but by Evil. They tell stories of Lord Baltimore and about how they were primed to believe in the horrible fantastic things he’d told them. The stories are great ghost story kinds of things. Although now that I think of it there aren’t any ghosts per se. Monster tales then.

The whole thing is dripping with atmosphere and because of the Mignola influence everything in my mind looked blocky and deep-shadowed. The illustrations are small and don’t depict action for the most part, just little scene setting snapshots. Aside from the main characters portraits there are lots of buildings and nails and such, though there is a picture of the climactic monster from each of the tales.

I marvel at writers who tell stories that are so old feeling and still make me want to read them. It doesn’t matter that you know there’s a were-creature, that you really shouldn’t go to the village the locals are scared of, because it’s exactly the story you want. I just read this Clarkesworld magazine interview with a pile of short fiction editors and their stated desire for “something I’ve never seen before” makes me hurt inside. I don’t have innovative visions of anything that’s going to sweep the genre and change the world. I just have a couple of little stories to tell. These editors also want an emotional response which, well, I ain’t so good at. So yes. I suck but Baltimore is very good.

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