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Words are magical. And nothing transports me to another reality quite like the written word. They have always been my escape, and I am always filling my already-full bookshelves with more worlds to discover.
It’s only natural then that nothing gets me excited for Halloween quite like a good dose of beautiful prose.
Lucky for me, K.A. Opperman’s “The Crimson Tome” provides me exactly that.
The Crimson Tome. Doesn’t that just sound like a book begging to be read as we ready to celebrate our favorite holiday?
Opperman is influenced by the writings of Clark Ashton Smith, a poet and member of H.P. Lovecraft’s inner circle whose writing style is described as “verbal black magic”. While I’m not well-versed in the works of Smith or Lovecraft, as a writer and Halloween lover I can certainly appreciate anything described this way.
Verbal black magic Opperman’s work is…right from the start! This collection of poems is divided into six sections: The Nightmare Muse, Unpleasant Dreams, Nocturnal Lovers Parts I and II, The Palace of Phantasies and Twilight Sorrows.
The Nightmare Muse opens with a sonnet invoking a dark muse to lead her poet on his journey, and it could not be more beautifully written. We immediately wander into the world of “The Crimson Tome” – or rather, The Land of Darkest Dreams – meeting the town of Yorehaven, discovering the Witch Light and even paying homage to The Pumpkin King.
Once we are well immersed in this world, Opperman takes us on a beautiful, chilling and sometimes disturbing journey through what I’ll lovingly call The Dark Side. It’s a collection of poems that is truly meant to be read as a journey too – each builds off the last, taking darker twisting turns into a land most of us rarely visit or one of which where we only stand on the fringes.
It’s the kind of work that brings to life so much of what so many of us love about Halloween – the time of year where a walk on the darker side of life is more acceptable.
In addition to giving me all kinds of spooky vibes, I find Opperman’s prose exciting in its ability to be challenging. Many of the poems include archaic language, as acknowledged in the book’s introduction. I find this language to be a fun test as well as an exciting excuse to dust off my English degree and dive back into the beauty of poetry.
Buy “The Crimson Tome”
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