Review: A Song for Quiet by Cassandra Khaw

This is the second novella in Khaw’s Persons Non-Grata series that mix Lovecraftian tropes with noir and psychic detective elements. I enjoyed the first in the series and this second novella has a similar confident command of setting and horror.

The common element between the two is the character, John Persons but his role is more secondary with the focus shifting to a 1950’s Blues musician Deacon James. Journeying north for work James finds himself increasingly troubled by nightmarish images that are somehow connected to the music he plays.

The set-up was excellent I felt. Deacon James is a man with great talent who nonetheless finds himself impoverished and on the fringes of society – a position which also appears to be pushing him towards the fringes of reality. However, the resolution of the story didn’t quite work for me – I suppose because there was nowhere else for it to go. There’s a story to be told about the Victorian

There’s a story to be told about the Victorian/Early 20th-century conception of ‘madness’ and the association between mental health and those find themselves marginalised by society. However, that would be a story that would be very easy to go horribly wrong and this story (sensibly) just touches the edges of it.

3 thoughts on “Review: A Song for Quiet by Cassandra Khaw

  1. I liked the change of POV, and looking at Persons from the outside was quite effective. However, it went too far into classic horror territory for my personal taste, and I felt the ending got a bit waffy. I think Khaw’ s natural taste puts her further over in the fantasy-to-horror spectrum than I’m a fan of – I get the same vibe from some of he shorts as well – but that’s just a matter of my taste.
    I’ll be trying #3 (I think it’s a safe bet there’ll be another) but I’m hoping it moves a bit closer to the feel of the first one.

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    1. I read the first one and I thought it was reasonably well done — but so far over the line from fantasy into horror that I decided not to read any more of the series, because I’m just not into horror (especially Lovecraftian horror).

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      1. As someone who does like Lovecraftian horror: it didn’t really work for me, either (although there were aspects of it that I really liked) because there wasn’t really any tension in it. Persons’ abilities just keep expanding in the climax to meet every new challenge, so there’s zero doubt he’s going to win.

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