Literature: The Necromantic Mysteries of Kyle Murchison Booth
I wonder if it's a horror story?
The graves lay silently before me. The sleepers within the quiet earth did not rise up to speak to me, and I was grateful. This was my family now, and they made no demands I could not meet.
The Bone Key
Mix M. R. James, H. P. Lovecraft, psycho-sexual themes, a heavy dose of The Statement of Randolph Carter, and what do you get? A series of short stories chronicling the necromantic mysteries of one Kyle Murchison Booth. Taking place in an ambiguous between the wars setting in an equally ambiguous American city, this series by Sarah Monette follows the hauntingly haunted adventures of the aforementioned protagonist, who relates his supernatural mishaps in anxious first person as he watches otherworldly horrors unfold around him.The series of shorts are all collected in The Bone Key, with the exception of the most recent four, which have yet to be collected into anything (except a limited run chap-book called Unnatural Creatures).
Deceased Parents Are the Best: Booth's parents were apparently nice and loving people until they kicked it, and left him with a pair of abusive caretakers.
Booth's father was likely a kind, loving man, but Booth believes that his mother, Thekla, loved him only as a reminder of his father, as in The Bone Key. However, compared with his guardians, the Siddonses, Thekla is an angel.
Dysfunction Junction: This trope, consisting of Death by Origin Story parents and abusive legal guardians, has left Booth unable to make lasting connections with other people, speak with any degree of confidence, or brave any kind of prolonged social interaction.
Downer Ending: Most of them. But none so much as Elegy for a Demon Lover. By contrast,The Wall of Clouds ends pretty well for most of the sympathetic characters, and White Charles is more bittersweet than downer-ish.
Horny Devils: Ivo is an incubus. If you've read the story's title— "Elegy for a Demon Lover"— you have a pretty good idea where this is going, but it's made more heartbreaking by the fact that Ivo isn't coldly and deliberately stealing Booth's life force. In fact, part of his demonic instinct is an all-consuming love, and the only way to end his immortal parasitism is by essentially inflicting fatal heartbreak.
Literary Agent Hypothesis: The new introduction to the second edition of 'The Bone Key' includes a lengthy discussion covering each short story, written by the current senior archivist of Rare Books at the Parrington Museum, now that 'Dr Monette' has released the 'Kyle Murchison Booth Papers' to the public.
Long Title: The Necromantic Mysteries Of Kyle Murchison Booth.
Our Werewolves Are Different: The ones in To Die for Moonlight. Their living conditions and attitudes seem more like thost stereotypically associated with hyper-repressed dysfunctional families than with a pack of instinct-driven wolves... most of the time.
Plot Armor: Being the first person narrator, Booth will probably survive every story until the last one, the emotional trauma he incurs while doing so notwithstanding.
Sealed Evil in a Can: Used several times, but The Green Glass Paperweight and The Venebretti Necklace stand out.
Sliding Scale of Gender Inequality: Though one of the driving ambitions behind this series was an attempt to fix the myriad of problems (notably racism and sexism) found within Lovecraft, almost all of the female characters are still evil ghosts. With notable exceptions— The Venebretti Necklace (sort of), The Replacement (which could be interpreted as specifically addressing the issue of having an endless string of female victim/ghost characters), and The World Without Sleep— the series tends to score between a 1 and a 4 on the scale, depending on the story in question.
Unreliable Narrator: Booth sure hates and is jealous of Helena, huh? Good thing she's definitely evil.
Was Once a Man: The Venebretti Necklace, The Replacement. Arguably inverted in White Charles.
What Is This Thing You Call Love?: Booth certainly couldn't tell you. He feels it in Elegy for a Demon Lover... but contact with an incubus gives you amnesia, and he's forgotten the affair by The Wall of Clouds.
What Beautiful Eyes: Ivo's are "not merely vivid blue"; they are "intense, blazing, as if they were lit from within," "full of fire and darkness," and in possession of "opalescent brilliance."