What starts out excellent finishes as just average. The first 121 pages of this collection by Schwader, known primarily for her poetry, are great; top notch Lovecraftian stories that are fresh and original, and not derivative. But then things change, the second half of the book is stories based around the character Cassie Barrett that partake more of the Nancy Drew mold, as in Cassie Barrett and the Curse of Yig. These are a loosely related chronologically set of stories that have a more traditional structure and a less original feel. Set in the West and Southwest they are all connected but could be stand alone stories. Unfortunately for the overall collection they are nowhere near as uncanny or atmospheric as the stories in the first half of the book. One good thing is that Cassie Barrett is a strong female character that doesn’t need protecting, a nice touch for the Lovecraft subgenre.
One can see Schwader is a poet in the first 11 stories in the collection. Her prose is infused with a more poetic feel. For some reason the Cassie Barrett stories just don’t have this feel at all.
I guess I could have said the first 142 pages are great because one or two Cassie stories would have been okay for the book, but 5 longish stories, and over half the page count, made the second half drag a bit.
A somewhat reluctant four stars. The first half is definitely worth the price of admission and overall the collection is pretty solid.