Review of The Acephalic Imperial by Damian Murphy

Let there be no doubt that D. M. is the master of occult,

shadowy fiction, draped in velvet, drenched in smoky moonlight, whose refulgent landscapes are colonized by sinister, eldritch characters, each enacting esoteric motives in a sibilant daze. He is paramour of ravished beauties, languorous mansions, and impending nightmares. He is a literary mage in whose hands even the mundane details shrill with alchemical menace. Enter into his labyrinths to ponder the dire elegance of a prurient maid enmeshed in the nefarious clutches of a psychological trap, composed as much of architecture as symbolism.

Review of Seduction of the Golden Pheasant by Damian Murphy

I suspect the author has spent some time abroad. Such were my impressions while reading this novella, steeped as it is in the aura of its locales.

Seduction of the Golden Pheasant provides us a brief glimpse at Damian Murphy’s implementation of oodles of subtext. Several of his stories function on the level of a Guillermo Del Toro flick, introducing a subversion of the setting, providing a narrative cosmos beneath a simple premise. The comparison is only partial of course, as this author’s tales lack gore, and rely on purely psychological insinuation and intimate portraiture. I was drawn in by the playful games of the characters, which are revealed to contain mystic significance.

There is a falling into lush surroundings, an entrancing focus upon inanimate patterns, the arrangement of furniture, serving for the establishment of place. Subtle shades of intertwined Occidental and Oriental motifs. A true seduction in every sense of the word. I felt a mental suction from the text, enwrapping my imagination. The author has a penchant for curious protagonists, propelled by abstract lusts into a contemplation and then a revelation of the divine properties of that sensual imperative, which is almost a disintegration of their persona into aesthetic appreciation. I believe he is trying to achieve a marriage of the sublime and the epicurean.

Concealed charms, sacred texts, and architectural splendor, atmosphere slanted toward decadence, conversations amid a haze of foamy cigarillo smoke, spooky liqueurs, and the dawning of the uncanny abyss behind the thin veil of our senses. This is the supreme and utterly irresistible essence I feel while reading this author’s work.

Review of The Narcissus Variations by Damian Murphy

Another unsettling and atmospheric novella from Damian Murphy, who has concocted an aesthetic all his own comprised of dense subtext, dark, elaborate interiors, and esoteric rites, woven into an ongoing meditation on the mortal soul and the responsibility of the artist. 

This one centers around the Kin and an enigmatic journal, given life by the scrivener protagonist. You will find an interplay of striking symbols, the return of the mirror as a gateway, an untrustworthy implement, and the coaction of written, spoken, and deciphered language.

Most of the author’s works are representative of his pristine imagery, his elusive double-meanings, and his refined and polished style. To read any of his books is to enter into a vast subconscious layer of the human experience, replete with mythological creatures, shimmering glades, doorways leading onto the abyss, and a nightmarish reality haunting this veil of existence we call the quotidian.

Review of Abyssinia by Damian Murphy

Redolent of mystic awareness. Cryptic and profound. With a highly refined prose style, the author indulges in subtle subterfuge of the reader’s expectations.

A quiet and subconscious exploration of inner landscapes, characters bound by association to a storytelling doll, imbued with sententious sentience. Constricted to the confines of a microcosmic hotel, the novella radiates a distinctly European allure, but yet contains the puzzled musculature of a Borgesian foray into the wild unknown.

Mr. Murphy uses his locales to push and pull at the contours of his characters’ perceptions. With a sort of blurred clarity, he conveys an elegiac acquaintance with the uncanny and a breathless insinuation toward the everyday-magical aspect of a quiet, plotless endurance of the presence of other beings. For when you get right down to it, people are other consciousnesses, whom we must perforce fail to comprehend. This is a sublime descent into the outskirt encounters of lives adjacent to our own, each possessing an exquisite and memorable texture.

Review of Hemming Flames by Patricia Colleen Murphy

A devastating collection of poems dealing with tough topics in a way that leaves a memorable impression, written by a contemporary poet unafraid to openly discuss humanity’s deepest fears.

You would be hard-pressed to find a better debut collection published in recent years. The last lines of the book deliver on what the rest of the collection promises – that there is symbolic relationship between the images and interconnected stories – beyond lyrical intensity – clasped within the slim volume’s covers. As re-readable as her second production: Bully Love. Tame is not a word to describe her work, but even the faint of heart will be able to perceive the deep thought and care that went into these poems.

Review of A Spy in the Panopticon by Damian Murphy

I wish I could find the edition pictured on Goodreads. I only had access to the first part: Spy in the Panopticon, which by itself is another stunning work of the imagination from Damian Murphy. 

In this one especially, the seed of an obscure metaphysics seems to be present. There is a suggestive association between the female main character, the enigmatic machine, and the spyhole in her room, all of which adjust and skew reality in some way. By controlling perception, creativity, and the muse, she is first inspired and then pursued by the manifestations of her curious investigations.

There are patterns cropping up in the architectural elements, dreamlike aura, and fear-laden recounting of the main character’s descent into this strange internal extension of her craft. Once again dark sides of human nature are subtly revealed through the interpolation of myths and mirrors which reflect an untrue image.