The Lay of the Black Doors

The Lay of the Black Doors

by Turiya

Warning This fiction contains:
  • Gore
  • Profanity
  • Traumatising content

Nikha von Kranssov awakens one sunny morning to find that things have gone all wrong: Her maid has been murdered, her father is missing, and her house, Eldergrave Manor, is far larger and less familiar than it should be. She decides to grab her trusty rifle and set out into a home made strange and sinister, determined to find her father and confront whoever is responsible.

The Lay of the Black Doors is a horror/adventure story that takes place in a secondary world. It is mainly inspired by the Cthulhu Mythos, Amnesia: The Dark Descent, China Miéville’s Bas-Lag books, M.T. Anderson’s The Game of Sunken Places, and Shea and Wilson’s The Illuminatus! Trilogy. Be warned that the story involves frightening situations and occasional dark themes, as well as some violence and gore.

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The cover image is not mine. It is "The Drawbridge," a 1761 engraving by Giovanni Battista Piranesi.

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If Resident Evil was more serious and a book, this would be it. Our heroine travels through the depths of her mansion, slowly discovering one horror after another, using her wits and weapons to press onwards to her ultimate goal.

While Amnesia is presented as one of the inspirations for the story, I think it more clearly follows the survival horror genre because of Nihka's agency. She has a goal she fights towards.

Agency gives impetus to the reader to flow forward in the story, each encounter a set piece of classic horror elements. That tends to be where the story falls slightly flatter for me and the reason I took off half a star. The presentation is excellent and Nikha's familiarity with the way the mansion should be provides the reader with vicarious shock at the unsettling changes, but the encounters come off as derivative of the inspirations.

It is early days yet, so there is plenty of room for the story to grow. If you like a well crafted horror in this vein, you'll enjoy this story as it stands.