Review: Elizabeth Hand’s Available Dark in the Washington Post

Elizabeth Hand’s Available Dark, a follow-up to her highly acclaimed Generation Loss, takes could’ve-been-somebody photographer Cassandra Neary from New York to Finland and Iceland—first as a consultant on several photographs of graphically murdered corpses, then in a reunion with an old lover, now a dealer in vintage vinyl records in Reykavik. Nothing is coincidental, of course, and the world of death-obsessed photography quickly intersect with history of black metal bands—all of it taking the reader into some pretty dark places as well. Here’s an excerpt from my review in the Washington Post:

The title of Elizabeth Hand’s second Cass Neary thriller plays on the photography term “available light,” but there’s little light — either physically or metaphorically — in the six photos that set this plot in motion. They’re grisly portraits of corpses whose methods of murder were inspired by the Yuleboys of Icelandic folklore, figures with names like Door Slammer, Spoon Licker and Meat Hook. The circumstances surrounding the deaths have been obscured, though famed photographer Ilkka Kaltunnen has immortalized them with his signature “phantom novas” of white radiance. He spares the victims no empathy: “They deserved to die,” he says. “They were unclean: Their own darkness had invaded them. Whatever light they possess now, it came from me.”

Read the full review here. — Art Taylor

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0 thoughts on “Review: Elizabeth Hand’s Available Dark in the Washington Post

  1. Kathleen Taggersell

    I just read this book and it WAS creepy, but it kept me on the edge of my seat up until the very end! Loved it. The characters are dark, but Cass’ redeeming quality (to me, anyway) is her wit. I hope she shows up again in another novel.

  2. Ivona Poyntz

    I have just finished Generation Loss and am looking forward to ‘available dark’: but am a little disapointed that Cass and Gryffin don’t seem to make it as a couple.

    1. artandliterature Post author

      Both books are great — but no, the supporting characters from the first novel don’t carry into the second (but there is indeed an old love interest in Available Dark… though perhaps not any sort of storybook romance, to say the least). Hope you enjoy it anyway. 🙂