Greg Gifune is an author that I discovered soon after discovering book communities online that celebrated horror and dark fiction. A lot of people in various groups at Goodreads spoke highly of his work, so I reluctantly checked it out. Why reluctantly, you ask? First: because I'm a contrary bitch. (Thanks Moonlight Reader for the term!) If there's a bandwagon behind a book or author, I tend to avoid it like the plague. Second: I figured if his work was that good, I would have already heard about him, right? I was very wrong in that assumption and below, I will tell you why.
I will be honest in saying that the first Gifune book I read didn't work all that well for me. That book was Gardens of Night. I did end up giving it 3 stars because it was very well written, but I did come away from it disappointed. It left me wondering what all the hubbub was about. Regardless, I decided that I would give him one more try.
That try was The Rain Dancers (Delirium Novella Series). All I could say was WOW. First off, the cover art is beautiful. (If you like it, check out Daniele Serra's site, his work is incredible!) Secondly: atomosphere, atmosphere, atmosphere. I've read a number of his works at this point and atmosphere is something I know I can count on from Mr. Gifune. In this particular novella, it's raining heavily outside when a stranger knocks on the door of a house. From there this novella travels deep down into the dark. I'm not sure what I expected from this story, but The Rain Dancers delivered it in spades. From that moment on, I knew I would be counted among Greg's many fans.
At this point I had started an online reading group of my own, and we decided to read The Bleeding Season. This was where Mr. Gifune's writing skills came into play in a big way. This read was a full length novel with a familiar premise. Childhood friends gather together in their hometown for the funeral of another friend that had committed suicide. What makes this book different? Atmosphere? Originality? A gritty realism that any reader will recognize as truth? How about all of the above? One of my favorite quotes of all time comes from this book: "After all, Goodness is a state of grace. Evil, is a state of mind". This book is as good as dark fiction gets.
Moving on to A View From the Lake. This novella brings to mind another word that I have come to associate with Greg Gifune and that is ambiguity. I loved this novella, it had atmosphere (of course), characters questioning their sanity, a creepy-ass setting and an ending that left a few things up to the reader. I'm a reader that enjoys trying to figure things out for myself. Not everyone is, and I realize that. However, I love it and my imagination went to town on this one.
One other thing that I do want to mention is the fact that Mr. Gifune has said that there is a common thread that runs through all of his work. When reading A View From the Lake, I think I finally caught on to what it was. Another novella where I believe I caught the thread was Lords of Twilight. This is yet another story packed with atmosphere and yet another instance of Greg letting the readers interpret the story for themselves. Plus, there was a puppy and who doesn't love puppies?
I will wrap this Spotlight up here in the hopes that I've interested at least one person just enough for them to check out something written by Greg Gifune. If you like atmosphere, ambiguity and flat out excellent writing, his work is for you. Give it a shot, you won't be disappointed!