Review: The Final Reconciliation

I can already tell that THE FINAL RECONCILIATION will be on my “year’s best books” list. Aidan Cross, former guitarist for The Yellow Kings, recounts the tale of his band’s humble beginnings, their shot at fame, and the horrific damage done by the recording of one unreleased album–and the presence of one woman who’s not at all what she seems.

That’s just a tiny summary of the plot, because I’m not sure I can do it justice. The idea of using a metal band as the focal characters for a homage to Chambers’ “The King in Yellow” seemed a little far-fetched to me at first, but I’ve always had a soft spot for dim Carcosa, and oh, Todd Kiesling does not disappoint. 

From the moment Camilla enters the story, you know something’s “off” about her, and the way she immediately dominates lead singer Johnny is just the first taste of the horror to come. Johnny’s too besotted to realize just what dark force Camilla is allied to, but his bandmates aren’t, and Aidan’s recounting of their nightmarish hallucinatory experiences in her thrall is just mesmerizing. (“Your eyes are bleeding” is one of the most terrifying sentences ever.) 

From Camilla’s entrance to the band’s first (and final, and beautifully horrifying) performance (“TAKE OFF YOUR MASK!”), the story’s just a roller coaster ride straight to hell. If you’re familiar with the Chambers story, that only intensifies the intense dread and despair that suffuse the writing, because, like Aidan, you know what’s coming–*who’s* coming–and you know nothing will stop it.

The pacing is terrific–I read this in one sitting and could not put it down–but the pacing takes a backseat to the writing itself. The imagery is evocative; you *know* Carcosa, the scent of it, the two-moon sky, the wretched inhabitants, and the prose is almost poetically lyrical in its depictions of the most graphic brutalities. It reads a bit like a fever dream…if you can even sleep after you finish!

I can’t recommend this book highly enough. If everything Crystal Lake releases is of this quality, they’re a publishing force to be reckoned with.

Buy it here:

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