Written by: Josh Black
Russell Hamilton is at a loss. He’s suffering from narcolepsy, sleep paralysis and the occasional hallucination, trying to sort it all out with copious amounts of ecstasy. Add to that the fact that his wife of twenty-eight years has left him, and you can begin to imagine the state he’s in. All this sets the stage for Mike Stone’s Lemon Man, a bizarre little novella from Creative Guy Publishing.
The story alternates between the modern world and a darkly etherial landscape inhabited by a hierarchy of warring angels. In the latter segments Russell is trying to figure out what’s going on. In the former, he’s spiraling rapidly into madness. The two narratives flow seamlessly into each other until the final act and brilliant conclusion.
Although it’s labeled as dark fantasy/suspense on the back cover, this book is difficult to categorize (and to write about without giving too much away). Suffice to say it’s very odd. Biblical references abound, as do extensive descriptive passages, touching flashback segments, and sudden, almost clinically detached violence and bloodshed. It’s a testament to Stone’s strength as a writer that none of these things seem at all in opposition. While reading it I was reminded equally of The Hellbound Heart, What Dreams May Come and American Psycho, so take from that what you will.
The story is intriguing, the writing concise, and the characters all well-drawn. The emotional depth Stone manages to achieve within such a small number of pages (and in each of the alternating settings) is impressive.
I wouldn’t say Lemon Man is a horror novella, but it is dark, and layered so it can be read on multiple levels. It’s not something every genre fan must have, but this particular reader enjoyed it. For the price I’d certainly recommend it if you’re into speculative fiction in general, the weirder side of the spectrum in particular.