Review of The Exalted and the Abased by Damian Murphy

Several more novellas with occult-aesthetics from the master of neo-decadent novellas.

It is a niche genre perhaps, but the sumptuous descriptions and elegant interior design, the descents into esoteric epiphanies, the occluded worlds steeped in reverent awe of dark forces – none of these things get old when the prose sparkles and snaps, when every sentence slithers through the wretched unfondled parts of your mind.

Occasionally, the ultimate culmination of these close-circuited experiments in arcane experience and communion may baffle some uninitiated readers, but no one with eyes will fail to notice the polished, evocative imagery the author instills into his multi-faceted creations.

The second tale revolves around board games, which have always fascinated humanity. The tale is exquisitely drawn through a female protagonist’s perspective, as her husband’s obsession punctuates an exploration of ill-defined principles. However, magic and elusive truths burble beneath the fanciful facades of domestic abrasion leading to a familiar seclusion within the confines of a secret devotion. D. M. fans will recognize the trademark signs of a mind well-versed in hallowed depictions of harrowing indoctrinations. The level of ambiguity can take some getting used to but the sentence structure is as comforting as a well-worn divan, ensconcing the unsuspecting consciousness of all who enter upon these enigmatic pastures of oblivion.

The final tale is framed as a point-and-click adventure in the 2nd person. While a major departure from the author’s traditional or pre-modern method, the syntax is sound and the element of examination is well-defined. This is the third video-game-enhanced story I’ve read by the author and they may mark the pinnacles of his career for their intimate and unique elaboration of a sphere of experience often separated from decadent fictional portrayals. This sub-sub-sub genre of his multi-leveled works represents a side project with nearly limitless possibilities.

If he were to be persuaded to produce a long-form novel, I hope with all my heart he returns to the subject of pixilated worlds.

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