The mind often plays tricks on the body – fertile imagination goading the eyes to surreal visions, shadows of the past lending credence to an otherwise unthinkably outrageous perception of the present. Dennis Etchison takes the reader on such an unsettling trip in California Gothic, where the initial mile of beaten path leads to the veritable slippery slope of morbidly suggestive imagery, self-conscious, guilt-ridden brow beating and second guessing in an insane reality where said behavior is not necessarily justified but IS oddly redundant. California Gothic is a dark time capsule of sorts, its apt description of the San Fernando Valley of the 1990s sprinkled with an almost absurd paranormal flavor setting the distinct tone and color of the novel.
Perhaps Mr. Etchison’s point is that you can truly never go home again, or home is where the heart is, or the heart is, indeed, a lonely hunter. Whatever the underlying message may be, it is impossible to pin the author’s intent down and each reader will draw her or her own conclusions from this troubling tale. Beautifully spun novel from a master of the short story - psychedelic, revelatory, foreboding and treacherous. Watch your step on this one; things are never quite what they appear to be.