Our Lady of Darkness, Fritz Leiber Rothdas book review RSS
2.0 Stars

I was reminded of this book ~5 years ago, when the pre-production hype for _True Detective, Season 2_ mentioned that the show would explore the occult history of the Los Angeles highway network. Which both seemed awesome and made me want to go back and re-read OLoD. OLoD has a similar concept, that the design and emplacement of mass infrastructure was being used as the ritual component for enormous magics. Highways and movement along highways rather than pentagrams, weights of steel and fuel rather than goat's blood. _True Detective Season 2_ of course turned out to be a complete and hilarious failure, but I still wanted to go back at some point and re-read OLoD to see how it stood up and if there were any interesting ideas that could be gleaned from it.

Unfortunately, OLoD hasn't aged well since high school. The novel is overly long for the story that it tells and the writing isn't interesting enough to make up the difference. The story is "Lovecraftian" and it name drops a ton of authors from that literary set, but I feel like the original Dr. L would have told the story in 1/2 or 1/4 the number of pages and been better for it. Also, there wasn't any real meat to the idea of Megalopolisomancy, it's just sort of an idea that is pointed at but not elaborated on. So there wasn't much to steal there except for the basic concept. And finally in the list of complaints, there's a sort of 1950's sexism in the writing, where female characters boobily breasted down the stairs. It's not so much that Leiber explicitly thinks that women are inferior, it's more that they primarily exist in his stories as sex objects. Even the monstrous, mouthless, and extra-dimensional (but female coded) entity gets this treatment. Wait, actually, there's not 1 but 2 thirteen year old girls who also get that treatment. Oh Leiber. You should have stuck to the were-rats.

There are a few bright spots to the story: the monster design, the _Annihilation_ type dream that the protagonist has at the end, and the unsettling and jarring tonal shifts that the story takes at several points. These are all quality; it's just that they are not enough to sustain a 220 page novel.