The Bog

February 15, 2018 at 6:00 pm (Reads) (, , )

bogThe Bog by Michael Talbot

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I’ve been looking for years for the definitive horror novel set in a bog. Neither Rick Hautala’s Moonbog nor Phil Rickman’s The Man in the Moss quite hit the mark, and I was hoping that Michael Talbot’s The Bog — featuring the actual bog bodies and enjoying a reprint by Valancourt Books — would be the one. Alas, I’m still looking.

The story gets off to a good start, but it suffers for not being atmospheric and having weak characterization, and that the narrative itself feels very telly. The story also jumps all over the place, so that as soon as you start to get a handle on one part of the plot, Talbot introduces a different aspect of it and decides to make that the focus of his story.

It also doesn’t help that this is another book featuring a character with an eidetic memory, which makes this the fourth book in the last three months to feature one. This isn’t Talbot’s fault — if anything, this book has the earliest publication date of all four books — but it is a tiresome device, and one that’s still being reused. It just hurts that I’ve seen it so frequently in my latest reads.

Another aspect of the book that felt weak was the magic Talbot incorporated into the story. For me, what makes a magic system work is its rules; they have to hang together well, and the story has to be supported by those rules. Talbot explains all of the rules, but he doesn’t do so until nearly the end of the book, so for much of the story we’re wading about, trying to understand why things are happening the way they do. I think the story would have been stronger had we had those rules explained earlier in the book.

The Delicate Dependency was an odd book with fast-paced action interspersed with boring day-to-day minutiae, and I was expecting something similar with The Bog, Talbot’s second book. Instead, what I got was an unfocused mess with a few points in its favor, but not enough to elevate it to the classic status I was expecting from a Valancourt reprint. Maybe I just let my expectations get the better of me.

Started: November 21, 2017
Finished: November 30, 2017

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