British Fiction Focus

Covering Medusa’s Web by Tim Powers

Tim Powers mightn’t be speculative fiction’s fastest writer, but he is, to my mind, one of its finest.

Almost four years on from Hide Me Among the Graves, a sequel of sorts to 1989’s The Stress of Her Regard, and a frankly disarming decade since his last standalone, the Locus Award nominated Three Days to Never, Corvus has announced, via Zeno Agency, that the author’s next novel, Medusa’s Web, will be published here in first week of the new year.

By the looks of the blurb, Medusa’s Web will split the difference between the dark fantasy of the Fault Lines series that Last Call kicked off and the idea of time travel that seems to have preoccupied Powers in recent years—not least in the two novellas Subterranean Press put out in the wake of Hide Me Among the Graves’ publication, namely Salvage and Demolition and Nobody’s Home: An Anubis Gates Story.

In the wake of their Aunt Amity’s suicide, Scott and Madeline Madden are summoned to Caveat, the eerie, decaying mansion in the Hollywood hills in which they were raised. But their decadent and reclusive cousins, the malicious wheelchair-bound Claimayne and his sister, Ariel, do not welcome Scott and Madeline’s return to the childhood home they once shared. While Scott desperately wants to go back to their shabby south of Sunset lives, he cannot pry his sister away from this old house that is a conduit for the supernatural.

Decorated by bits salvaged from old hotels and movie sets, Caveat hides a dark family secret that stretches back to the golden days of Rudolph Valentino and the silent film stars. A collection of hypnotic abstract images inked on paper allows the Maddens to briefly fragment and flatten time—to transport themselves into the past and future in visions that are both puzzling and terrifying.

As Madeline falls more completely under Caveat’s spell, Scott must fight to protect her. But will he unravel the mystery of the Madden family’s past and finally free them… or be pulled deeper into their deadly web?

Medusas-Web-by-Tim-Powers

Though I’m loathe to even mention Clive Barker after the awful Scarlet Gospels, most everything about Medusa’s Web makes me think of Coldheart Canyon—most everything except the Madden’s late Aunt Amity, whose name is suggestive, instead, of a certain horror novel and film franchise, the less said about which the better. Because I’m excited about this book. Not so much Amityville: The Awakening, I’m afraid.

In any case, Corvus, an imprint of Atlantic Books, have pencilled Medusa’s Web in for publication in the UK on January 7. Let’s you and I talk about it again then.

Niall Alexander is an extra-curricular English teacher who reads and writes about all things weird and wonderful for The Speculative ScotsmanStrange Horizons, and Tor.com. He’s been known to tweet, twoo.

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