Review: “Songs of Dreaming Gods,” William Meikle

Pros: Cosmic horror with unusual nuance
Rating: 5 out of 5

William Meikle’s cosmic horror novella Songs of Dreaming Gods introduces Inspector John Green, a police officer who has spent the last two months recovering from being stabbed. He was supposed to be out for another two months, but he’s been called in early to help out with a particularly brutal homicide case. He arrives on the scene to find Constable Todd Wiggins and Sergeant Janis Lodge already there. Janis has been helping him get through the particularly bad times, and she and Todd are on the lookout to make sure John is really up to this. What greets him at the scene is a nightmare: six corpses in an apartment, all torn to pieces. Yet all the blood has pooled, not spattered, and there’s no sign of a murder weapon. In the kitchen is a bizarre symbol painted on a piece of paper hanging over the stove. When the trio tries to leave the building, John finds himself blocked by an impenetrable wall of fog. When he turns back to the apartment, all signs of the bodies are gone–and he’s in danger. Strains of a song the reader might find familiar from other Meikle books start to haunt our heroes, and doors open to places not of this world or time.

Some of the early parts of this seemed a little aimless at first. Both John and Janis get a bit lost, each in their own ways, and at first there seems to be little rhyme or reason to it. Give it a chance to grow to a head; it’s worth it.

The characters are definitely interesting. John is still quite damaged, and he’s come back to work too soon. Janis has a few of her own old terrors haunting her. Todd is the most normal of the bunch, but after taking an interest in witness Samantha, he starts to hear the mysterious music as well. Sam, too, is intriguing–she’s a liar, a party girl, and a bit of a druggie, but she and Todd find a connection, and she definitely has brass balls.

I don’t know where it falls in the order of things since I’m not overly familiar with Meikle’s Sigils and Totems books, but I found that my background of having read one whole story set in that world meant that this one made perfect sense. The house is one of those houses, and it’s… broken. How, why, and how it might be fixed are fascinating things to look at. John, Janis, and Todd play a unique role in this, and I loved the tone of the ending in particular. It’s a bit unusual for cosmic horror. (Sorry to be vague, but I’m trying not to spoil things.)

I very much enjoyed this book, and look forward to reading more in this series.

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