Sunday, September 21, 2008

Dagger Key: "Limbo"

Just a few quick thoughts on the Lucius Shepard story "Limbo".

"Limbo" opens up with criminal Michael Shellane on the run from his former criminal associates. Early on in the story the word "assassins" is used, so Shellane needs to get away. He tries the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and rather than crossing to Canada takes another road and hides out at a lake cabin. There he meets a scared and partially emotionally broken (but beautiful, of course) woman named Grace.

Given the title of the story and the hints of supernatural things going on with the lake and a mysterious "dark house" and the weird behavior of Grace the reader starts to wonder if Shellane is already dead or in purgatory. Mentioning the wondering is no spoiler, but does frame the story. What is going on here?

There are questions of love and death and purgatory rolling around the first two thirds of the story and this is the best part of the story, the parts with Shellane and Grace and the lake and the wondering.

It is only when Shepard gets a bit more concrete and explores the mystery of the Dark House that he loses me as a reader. Perhaps I was simply disinterested in the Dark House, but the story Shepard initially told with Shellane and Grace takes a very weird turn and the tone of the story dramatically changes. The story gets darker, and weirder. It is not that Shepard told a whimsical story but the Dark House stuff didn't fit the first parts of the story.

"Limbo" does not completely satisfy, but it is a mostly strong story and like any Lucius Shepard story, it is worth reading. Even a Shepard story which does not fire on all cylinders is still a good story.

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