I’m rather intrigued these days by the concept of chapbooks, short typically inexpensive books that first became popularized in the 17th and 18th centuries. I guess they never really went away, but recently I’ve been seeing — or noticing — more of them being printed. The first one I picked up was Corley and Grey’s charming Gardinel’s Real Estate, and very soon afterwards I saw a tweet about No Songs for the Stars, by Mary SanGiovanni.
In this blend of noir and cosmic horror, the Sulphur City Police have finally captured a serial murderer of children. Under interrogation, the killer cryptically tells the police to “Check the wall,” and explains how he has received messages from beyond on it, telling him to… do things. Though most of the department dismisses these statements as the ravings of a lunatic, Lieutenant Gina Maldonado is curious enough to investigate — and she will uncover the horrible secret within the walls.
No Songs for the Stars is an elegant story, well-written and compelling. It is only 20 pages long, as one would expect for a chapbook, but also like most chapbooks it is a beautiful printing that includes an excellent cover and eerie interior illustration.
As I noted about Gardinel’s Real Estate, the mixture of art and literature in chapbooks is really quite effective and is reminiscent of the older magazine tradition of illustrating all their stories, such as those I recently dug up for my Halloween Treats. I’m going to have to snoop around for more chapbooks in the future!
I’m also going to have to snoop around for more of Mary SanGiovanni’s writing, as this is the first piece I’ve had the chance to read! No Songs for the Stars is an excellent, atmospheric tale.
Update: I should also note that, like most chapbooks, it is a limited edition signed printing. Only 150 were printed, though at the time of posting it seems that some are still available for purchase.