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Wildest Dreams

Norman Partridge

Subterranean Press

Signed/Numbered US Hardcover

ISBN 1-892284-00-6

201 pages; $40.00

Reviewed by Rick Kleffel © 1999



Horror, Mystery


Brevity is all too often the first casualty in a horror novel. Following the example of Stephen King, most writers seem to think that what the average horror reader needs is a book that will double as a doorstop, and publishers are all too often happy to sell the results. We can thank the Subterranean Press for their new concept, a line of short novels by first rate authors. If 'Wildest Dreams' is anything to go by, then we have a lot to look forward to.

But a fair number of readers will already be looking forward to the next anything by Norman Partridge, with good reason. His Jack Baddalach novels are funny, fast and purely entertaining. His short fiction runs the gamut from grim horror to the light humor of his Gorilla Gunslinger graphic novel scripts. 'Wildest Dreams' comes decidedly down on the grim side, as Clay Saunders, hired killer, returns to the coastal town of Cliffside California to collect on his latest contract. But Clay Saunders isn't like everyone else. He only believes what he can see. But he can see ghosts.

'Wildest Dreams' is written in a rather peculiar prose style for Partridge. It's a bit more poetic and informative than his usual sparse machine-gun action. He lingers with his descriptions, though the action-oriented passages are every bit as rocking as his other work. As you read the book, you come to realize that this is truly a short novel, with all the novelistic trimmings, not just an extended short story or a condensed longer work. Partridge has put all the elements of a novel in about two-thirds the space. It's rather an impressive feat.

'Wildest Dreams' bodes very well for both the Subterranean Press and Norman Partridge. It's a quick kick in the head that will stay with the reader every bit as long as your average doorstop. All the complexity, all the depth and none of the fat make 'Wildest Dreams' the closest thing to a healthy meal you're going to get out of the horror genre.