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As Fate Would Have It / Michael Louis Calvillo

Bad Moon Books / 2009
Reviewed by: Anthony J. Rapino

As Fate Would Have It, Michael Louis Calvillo’s second novel, is a perfect example of ambitious horror, striving to exhibit dark fiction’s literary capabilities while boasting its ability to plumb the depths of the human animal. Calvillo’s unique style and penchant for allusion emulsifies into brilliant vinaigrette: sweet, a little sour, and just a touch bitter.

As with I Will Rise – Calvillo’s first novel – As Fate Would Have It opens on a main character the reader has no reason to like. Montgomery is a murderer and a cannibal. He lures women back to his house so he can kill them, butcher them, and eat them. And yet, somehow, Calvillo manages to elicit – if not adoration – a certain sympathy for this flawed and evil character. He plays on our sympathies by portraying Montgomery as a charmingly goofy chef who is successful and talented. Sure, he murders people and eats them. But these actions are justified; besides, he doesn’t enjoy killing.

Montgomery is years into his culinary addiction, a cannibalistic lifestyle both he and his girlfriend, Liz, enjoy. But he’s starting to feel guilty, and after killing a young beauty named Heather, he decides it’s time to quit. A resolution he knows Liz will not favor.

Meanwhile, as days pass, Heather’s best friend Ashley worries something terrible has happened; it’s not like Heather to disappear without a word. While Ashley has a lingering sense that Montgomery – the last person Heather was with – is to blame for the disappearance, her dependence on heroine keeps her from making significant headway in the would-be investigation. If only she can break from her habit long enough to confront Montgomery, she may be able to discover what happened to her friend.

Much of the novel is spent drawing parallels between addiction and love. On one side we have Montgomery and Liz, who are addicted to human flesh. On the other side are Ashley and her boyfriend Henry, who are addicted to heroin. As Montgomery and Ashley try to quit their respective obsessions, the withdrawal symptoms and relationship woes are all too similar, leaving room for reader comparisons.

The concept of fate also runs throughout the novel like a thread. Are the characters at fault for their addictions, or were they simply playing the hands they were dealt? While Calvillo doesn’t try to answer this question for us, he does show us all the cards in play so we can make up our own minds. We know the events that led to Montgomery’s peculiar fixation, as well as those surrounding Ashley’s addiction. Was it their fault — or is fate to blame?

As Fate Would Have It is a layered, complex read with gore enough for any horror fan and literary prowess enough for any scholar. Don’t wait for fate to drop a copy in your lap; buy it today.

Purchase As Fate Would Have It by Michael Louis Calvillo.

Posted on Wednesday, September 9, 2009 at 05:18PM by Registered CommenterDark Scribe Magazine in | Comments Off

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