I’m now reading Katalepsis: a web serial of cosmic horror, urban fantasy, and making friends with strange people, by Hazel Young, and I’m loving it. It’s in the horror genre, and it is clearly informed and inspired by H.P. Lovecraft and the general Lovecraftian Mythos and the adjacent weird fiction horror stories. But it’s also fresh and lovely in a way reading actual Lovecraft is kind of dated, quaint, and cute. And I say this as an exorcist who finds fictional renderings of strange dimensional beings and demons and vampires and werewolves all quite amusing and typically rates them as to how close to reality they managed to come. But also as an exorcist I’ll say this: all fiction doesn’t just portray, it embodies.
I meant that. Some fiction is dark and will channel demons and dark entities your way and make you more susceptible to their influence. Some fiction will be in the neutral shadows – you can take it and use it in a dark way in your own mind, or you can take it and use it in a light way in your mind, and it can very easily go either way. And some fiction will actually help you to heal – it will help to give you insight, wisdom, peace, compassion, love, hope, life, and light.
Hazel Young, despite writing in the horror genre, despite writing about dimensional monsters and amoral wizards, and horrifying things, has done it in a completely light fashion. (Erm, not light as in light-hearted; Katalepsis is not light-hearted. Light as an energetic term meaning Not Evil And Corrupting.) She writes about one young woman’s struggle to find herself, to make herself whole, to cobble together a found family, to bring a level of civility and common decency to a world secretly ruled by powerful humans who have left off their humanity in their pursuit for power, and it’s beautiful. The fact that she also writes about tentacle monsters, and how some of them are helpful, some of them are malevolent, some of them are just minding their own business and you’re in their way, and some of them have even adopted some strays and tried to raise them properly… well, that’s just good storytelling. :) Katalepsis is beautiful, engaging, and well-crafted storytelling surrounding a coming-of-age story as we watch one college aged woman in Britain discover her own strength, discover her power, discover her sanity, discover her friends, discover her love, find her lost sister, and perhaps even change the world for the better. It’s a fantastic read, there’s plenty of it with no end in sight, and I can’t recommend it enough.
On a lighter note, some fans also call it ‘Danger Lesbians, LLC’ because everyone who is interesting and can be recruited to the protagonist’s side in her circle of friends and allies just happens to be a lesbian. But not any random sort of lesbian. She’s a powerful lesbian in need of some friends, and maybe a little healing. If the character is obviously straight, they’re probably a bad guy, or at least morally suspect upon occasion. It does not overtly advertise as being as queer as the day is long, but it is and delightfully so.
My only problem thus far with the web serial is that as of this writing the author has only published one ebook for it, covering only the first few arcs of the story. As someone who loves to read on her kindle and only reluctantly so on her phone (and doesn’t want to be tied to her laptop these days), I’d absolutely love for the author to get on with it and publish the next several arcs in ebook form that I will happily purchase as I have the first one. Then again, as someone who just started publishing her own web serial, I get it.