Archaia’s new anthology, Moon Lake, is a mixed bag.
First and foremost, it would be impossible to overstate the amazing production values on this hardcover book. From the quality of the paper to the overall B-movie, pulp feel of the design, Archaia did a fantastic job putting this book together. The fact that it only costs $20 is amazing.
The quality of its contents, however, does not match the quality of its production. The problem is that Moon Lake is trying to be too many things at once. Each story varies wildly from the one before it and the one after it. We go from crude humor to parody to horror and even to science fiction–all with varying degrees of nudity and gore thrown in. The only consistency to be found comes from the framing sequence that, unfortunately, is consistently juvenile.
The book moves around in such extremes that it’s a detriment to the stories that actually work. The opening framing sequence features a fart joke, which then leads into “Camp Sasquatch”–which features such hits as pubic hair humor and, everyone’s favorite, anal rape jokes! Perhaps the lowbrow humor of these two sections wouldn’t have been quite so jolting if not for the fact that the third story, “Black Bear Blues,” is a legitimate horror story with fantastic art. Unfortunately, it is, of course, followed up by another fart joke.
There are a few other gems to be found–particularly “The Final Escape” and “Cave Girl.” Even the over-the-top gore of “Desensitized Deidre” is well done and ridiculous enough to be both disgusting and funny–a balance that would have served the other stories in this book well.
Good anthologies are a difficult thing to find in any medium, and the choice to do one in such an extravagant format as this was a bold one. While the relatively low price point for such a book makes the varied quality a bit easier to digest, the book is just too wildly inconsistent to stand on its own.