Already I have a strong feeling that this novella from Crystal Lake Publishing and Todd Keisling will be amongst my years best. A big call, I know, but for me this story hit all the right notes (see what I did there?!).
In the late 1800’s the short stories of Robert W. Chambers called ‘The King In Yellow’ was first published. Chambers created a mythos of weird, cosmic horror that Keisling has tapped into with great effect in ‘The Final Reconciliation’. The narrative follows an interview with the last remaining survivor of prog rock band The Yellow Kings. Guitarist Aiden recounts the series of events that occurred during the recording of the bands only album and the meeting and involvement of a gypsy woman/groupie that attached herself like a leech to the band. Camilla, in turn forces them to complete the recording of the album and deliver a live performance that will allow her passage into Carcosa.
‘The Final Reconciliation’ is, in my eyes, the perfect novella. Expertly paced and crafted, Keisling chooses show, don’t tell early on in the story to suggest of the horrors that lie in wait for the band. The story builds as the band is manipulated and toyed with by gypsy Camilla, as she seeks to unlock the secrets of Carcosa. The tension inside the band is handled wonderfully well, the cracks gradually becoming deeper and deeper as relationships become more strained, opening into chasms of discontent.
Littered with musical references and authentic terminology, one of the most pleasing aspects was in the way Keisling captures the essence of being a musician in a band and also the way in which playing music can transcend you to another place. Keisling creates vivid images of Carcosa and the Yellow King, his minions and the realm itself. It all leads you towards a quite stunning climax where the bands final performance results in unimaginable horrors.
Character-wise, Aiden is a bruised and battered man, plagued by what he witnessed, he is a shadow of his former self. I had the image of a Keith Richards type figure, a well-worn appearance, skinny and a little tired looking whilst Camilla (The gypsy) is a vile manipulator of men, a sly character you will love to hate. The band each have their own little quirks too in a novella that doesn’t put a foot wrong.
If you are a musician or simply have a love of the heavier end of the musical spectrum then I am pretty convinced you will be in awe of this story. Fans of Chambers and Lovecraft will also be enthralled in what is a very special book indeed. ‘The Final Reconciliation’ is the perfect example as to how to craft a novella that builds steadily, but never becomes boring. Creating unease, tension and horror in spades. It gets extra points too for the chapters being named after the Kings in Yellow album tracks, a really cool touch. Bravo!
Don’t hesitate in picking up a copy from here.