Ash-Tree Press, 2002; Electronic edition 2011
Cover art and design by Jason Van Hollander
The Hebrew Scriptures tell us that when God began his work of creation, “the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep (tehom). If, as Matt Cardin suggests, tehom derives from the Sumerian Tiamat, the primeval chaos dragon of Babylonian mythology, then tehom, the deep, is a primeval chaos fashioned by God into an ordered cosmos.
We may speculate, therefore, that tehom, like Tiamat, predated God: that God may even be the offspring of the deep.
If such were true, then we would be forced to conclude that both God and His world — the ordered world of life, light, and logic — exist against a background of death, darkness, and derangement.
A few scattered souls claim that we can glimpse this primal chaos even now, while the cosmic charade still runs its course. At the seams of the universe, they say, a thread will sometimes become unraveled: a ray of darkness will shine through, and the light does not overcome it.
Divinations of the Deep presents five such glimpses, which the reader receives at his own peril. To question the universe in this manner is always dangerous, because there is no way of knowing in advance what form the answers will take. All that is known is that their form will be the unexpected.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Preface: Divining the Darkness
The Writer’s Answer: An Abhorrence to All Flesh
The Monk’s Answer: Notes of a Mad Copyist
Answer Given to an Innocent Bystander: The Basement Theatre
The Artist’s Answer: If It Had Eyes
The Final Answer (Given to God): Judas of the Infinite
“Cardin massages the dark and hidden, and penetrates the ancient deep to fashion unique visions of horror and deity. Each piece has its own depth and unwavering regard to the theme. The settings are universally dark, murky, and decadent, putting you in mind of Poe especially, but also some of the more depressed turn-of-the-(20th)Century writers. In each of these stories, the author personalizes the apocalyptic question of ultimate power and order. It is a fascinating approach.”
— Cemetery Dance
“It’s a bold writer who, in this day and age, tries to make modern horror fiction out of theology, but Cardin pulls it off. Like most heretics, he may be wrong in the eyes of the Church, but he can cite texts: lots of scary Old Testament passages that suggest a gnostic mystery underlying perceived reality. What was the ‘face of the deep’ upon which there was darkness, before the first act of Creation? Was God’s act one of pushing back or containing a primal Chaos older and vaster than Himself? Cardin manages to turn this into a vision of terrifying, Lovecraftian nihilism. No mean feat, that.”
— Darrell Schweitzer, writing for Fresh Blood
“This collection was everything I’d hoped it would be, and that doesn’t happen often . . . . Like Lovecraft and Ligotti, Cardin excels in creating a truly terrifying atmosphere of dread and decay by revealing what may lurk just beyond our view of reality. Few people succeed in this, but Matt does it with aplomb. His prose is intelligent and poetic, his execution, effortless. I believe this collection will become a classic of weird fiction.”
— Durant Haire for Feoamante.com
“Matt Cardin’s tales are imbued with a sense of cosmic dread reminiscent of Jean Ray or Thomas Ligotti. Divinations of the Deep is a notable addition to any library of horror or surrealism.”
— John Pelan, editor of The Century’s Best Horror Fiction
“Oh, this is truly marvellous stuff . . . . Matt Cardin’s wonderful conceit that Religion is the deterrent for whatever that Religion worships . . . . This whole book is Fiction-as-Religion in action. It is truer than truth.”
— “Real-time review” by D.F. Lewis