To say that I love all things horror would be an understatement; in fact, I thrive on the very things that many people turn away from with an upturned nose. It’s not uncommon that I’m asked, “How can you read that kind of stuff? Doesn’t it give you nightmares?” Even my mother finds my love of horror to be largely disturbing, referring to my writing as disgusting, but good. That said, the description of Gary Fry’s Siren of Depravity immediately caught my attention. The idea of a story about a dark, tormented, and dysfunctional family with Lovecraftian undertones is definitely something I’m interested in; however, I can’t help but feel a bit disappointed at the execution.
Written in first person perspective, Siren of Depravity is narrated by the main character, Harry Keyes. Harry is anything but the perfect husband: he’s cheated on his wife and has a habit of lying to her. His pride and joy is his little girl, Eva. Harry also has a brother, Dexter, who just found out that he’s actually adopted: they have different mothers.Coming from abusive childhoods, the two are haunted by their monster of a father. While Harry grew up, married, and found a career, Dexter bought the family house from his parents and became a bit of a recluse, burying himself in necromantic studies. The other characters, including Harry’s wife and child, are largely minor characters until the end and, while most of them are fairly flat and static, Eva appears to be the only one that undergoes any sort of change.
Upon discovering the nature of his maternity, Dexter calls his brother up on the telephone for the first time in ages, divulging to Harry that he has discovered something that he absolutely must show him. Naturally, Harry casts aside all reason to travel two hours to visit his brother and learn what he has discovered, despite knowing how dark Dexter’s interests are. It is at this point that Siren of Depravity starts hinting at old and terrible creatures that are inspired by Lovecraft, suggesting that they are buried deep underground. Dumbfounded by the knowledge that Dexter has a different mother, Harry takes it upon himself to solve the mystery and thus readers are led on a journey filled to the brim with horror after horror, from necromancy to human experimentation, Fry doesn’t hold back on the grisly details that define the Keyes family’s past.
Though the book begins a bit slowly, the action is nonstop and picks up speed further along. Fry has a knack for painting gruesome images with his words; however, I feel that his writing style would be better suited in third person, rather than first. Harry’s perspective seems to be a bit heavily diluted by his own personal regrets, and the constant mention of his affair and of being swatted with a newspaper by his father throughout the book really takes away from many of the scenes. What bothered me more than how repetitive these moments were, was the constant beginning of a sentence with the word “but.” “But” is a conjunction, and as such is meant to connect two thoughts. Many of the instances in which it was used, the word could have been omitted entirely, which would have helped the flow of the story. Instead, it gives the book a bit of a jerky feeling. Hopefully this will be addressed before publication.
I would like to thank NetGalley, DarkFuse, and Gary Fry for the advance review copy in exchange for an honest, unbiased review.