Usher's Passing - Robert R. McCammon

Robert R. McCammon uses the word phantasmagoric no less than three times in this book. This is a word that I wasn't readily familiar with, but my husband, who was a horror book nut in the late 70's and all through the 80's, knew this word well. It must have been part of trend of the time.

 

For those two of you out there that may not recognize this word, let me enlighten you (from Merriam-Webster):

 

Full Definition of PHANTASMAGORIA

1 : an exhibition of optical effects and illusions
 
a: a constantly shifting complex succession of things seen or imagined
 
    b: a scene that constantly changes
 
3 : a bizarre or fantastic combination, collection, or assemblage
 
Now, I'm not including a definition here to show how sophomoric I can be, but rather because reviewing this book is quite impossible without giving away something. To me, nothing quite sums it up like that third definition.
 
This book is FANTASTIC and it is CHOCK FULL of thrills and creep. I honestly don't know that I've ever read a book in which every chapter contains some nugget 'whoa'.  Let me see if I can come up with some creative metaphor...It's like a cyclone of mystery hurtling...No...it's...
 
You know what? It reminds me of Night Film.
 
Have you read that?
 
It's not the same story, no, in detail they're vastly different. But it feels similar. Both feature characters that are digging desperately for the truth of a veiled evil. Both had me reeling, trying to figure what in the hell was happening. In a majorly good way.
 
Except, where Night Film disappointed a lot of people (with a weak ending),  Usher's Passing knocks it to the ground. Usher's Passing simply kills it.  
 
What do you like? Haunted houses? Freaky ailments? Crazy lunatics? The occult? Mystery? Thrillers? Gory Horror? Bizarre historical fiction spanning four generations?
 
If you like any combination of the above, you will like this book.
 
Spoiler-y observations for my ownself (and people who've read the book...)
 
 
Part of the charm of this book for me was the names for everything. Rix, Cass, Ludlow, Hudson, Arram, Raven, Newlan, The Mountain King, The Lodge...honestly, McCammon's brilliant attention to detail includes his name selection.
 
The Pumpkin Man's purpose and what he provides the Usher's!? I did NOT see that coming. I was horrified and SHOCKED. It rocked me. I didn't think that McCammon would be so blunt about what happened to Nathan in front of New. I suppose, even with the creepy elements, this is where the book really could be classified as a horror rather than just a thriller to me.
(show spoiler)