Review: Solitary Life by Donald Bingle

This is a review of a story in The Crimson Pact: Volume One. While I am the publisher of the book, I do not have a story in the text. I’ve also worked to keep all of these reviews as impartial as possible; I hope you agree.

If you wish to check out The Crimson Pact, stop by its website at http://thecrimsonpact.com. While it’s only currently available in digital formats, if you have a computer, you can read this book. Not only is there a PDF version at the website, but you can read it on a free desktop reader from Barnes & Noble or Amazon.
Volume One of The Crimson Pact continues onward with “Solitary Life”, which is a perfect transition from “The Failed Crusade” to the rest of the anthology.

Written in the introspective “letter to posterity” form so favored by Lovecraft and others of his day, the slightly formal beginning meshes well with end of “The Failed Crusade”. Luckily, Bingle knows his craft well; he uses the form without falling into the multisyllabic opulescent verbage that tended to oppress Lovecraft’s prose.

But while this story begins in a formal tone, it shifts, slowly, disturbingly into the tale of a well-meaning man, a good-hearted nameless warden who believes too little, too late. This story does not grab you; instead, it slowly seduces.

While some gruesomeness exists in the story, much of the frisson is from the situation of the warden, from the outcomes of his good intentions. Both the slow shift in style and the darkening tone of the story lead us gently, inexorably, into the rest of the anthology. This story would serve well enough on its own; its placement in this anthology makes it all the better.

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