So, it’s been awhile, but hello fellow reader nerds! I am back with a review of The Final Reconciliation written by Todd Keisling, as I asked for an ARC copy in trade for a review.
I’ll give you the skinny before I jump right in. It’ll probably be short though, but this review will be full of love (and maybe spoilers? Just read at your own risk).
So, as taken from Goodreads:
TAKE OFF YOUR MASK.
Thirty years ago, a progressive rock band called The Yellow Kings began recording what would become their first and final album. Titled “The Final Reconciliation,” the album was expected to usher in a new renaissance of heavy metal, but it was shelved following a tragic concert that left all but one dead.
The sole survivor of that horrific incident was the band’s lead guitarist, Aidan Cross, who’s kept silent about the circumstances leading up to that ill-fated performance—until now.
For the first time since the tragedy, Aidan has granted an exclusive interview to finally put rumors to rest and address a question that has haunted the music industry for decades: What happened to The Yellow Kings?
The answer will terrify you.
Inspired by The King in Yellow mythos first established by Robert W. Chambers, and reminiscent of cosmic horror by H. P. Lovecraft, Laird Barron, and John Langan, comes The Final Reconciliation—a chilling tale of regret, the occult, and heavy metal by Todd Keisling.
And with that, here’s what I have to say…
I really loved this novella. Being a writer myself, I find that I have my area which I tend to stick to the most, which is Sci-Fi and Fantasy, but Horror is an area that I admire. To take humanity and to turn it inside out, to subject our fragile minds to the unknown-from what may be in our own backyard to the great cosmic-it’s a great experiment we run over and over again through this genre.
Sometimes we win, sometimes we lose, and in this case, like all those who happen to stumble across those from Carcosa, the latter comes to be, because the world is not always full of happy endings.
Now I’m not really gonna give deep into the story and expose it bit by bit, since you dear reader should, you know, actually read it, but I just want to talk about what I liked from this story.
You see, in most recent years, stories that usually involve The King in Yellow, or the creatures from H. P. Lovecraft, have been noticeable for quite some time. Shows like True Detective, while great, helped bring these ideas back to the forefront and has allowed more exposure to these great stories. Problem is, like any genre really, it can get stale.
So, as any writer knows, even if the area gets stale (and I use that word loosely), just write in it anyway cause who cares? Each person has a unique voice, and no two writers would write the same story if they thought of the same premise. As while all stories may have already been written, it’s what the individual brings to the table, to the story, to the mythos, that would set them a part from everyone else.
This is what Todd does. I say this in full honesty.
See, to me, it’s hard to write about music. Music is an audio experience, so it can be tough to put the sounds, the feelings, into words. But through Aidan, we get a good full account about the love for the music, the feel of it, how it affected him before it was corrupted by a particular individual, and as he went along to record the album. If they were left on their own, the group could have probably made it and became legends, you can see it in the words that Todd uses. He is able to take his love of the music and express it in this tale, but he then starts to twist it, transforming it as the real court of Carcosa begin to seep in.
That’s the other element Todd plays well: The influence of The King in Yellow mythos is obviously known from the synopsis, but he doesn’t just beat you over the head with it. He instead leads you into the influence like Aidan and his band-mates were, slowly, with time. Each moment he pulls back the veil is a peak into the world that lays beyond our own, and by the time it comes to that final performance, you too are just waiting to see what happened, and it’s a sad night for everyone involved, well, almost everyone.
That’s the best part of this entire story, you get a entry into the mythos that doesn’t feel hashed out, but thought of carefully, expressed with the right emotions and phrases at the right time. Add in the music that Todd obviously loves, and they blend together to give you a sad tale of these guys who just wanted to express themselves, but end up doing far worse because someone happened to look upon them and see that they would be useful for something else.
I only have one tiny little gripe. For me, this felt too short.
I know, I said this story is a novella, so it’s longer than a short story. It’s probably because I was able to just run right through it without much as a pause to be honest. But at the same time, it goes to show how of a good read this is, well at least to me. There was no stopping for me unless I had to put it down, I was that entranced by it.
So, I highly recommend this tale. Todd’s skills are at their best here, and I cannot wait to see what comes next.
Just remember, whatever you do, don’t take off your mask.
See you guys around.