Farah Rose Smith’s “The Visitor” does not serve simply as a delivery system for a riff on the Faustian bargain narrative; it showcases its author’s obvious attentiveness to each and every sentence, to how the lines sound and feel. This is the kind of fiction that begs to be read aloud. I find it difficult to describe good prose, but Smith writes with a seemingly effortless elegance that reminds me of some of the genre’s best stylists: think Kathe Koja, Anne Rice, Thomas Ligotti, S.P. Miskowski, Clive Barker and Gwendolyn Kiste.
I have no shortage of respect for “The Visitor”‘s form, but the content is also worth discussing. Smith writes thoughtfully and powerfully about the relationships between romanticism and destruction, between horror and seduction. This is a supernatural story, but it is also a story about the desperation and vitality of artists on the fringes, about the complicated dimensions of love. There’s an impressive amount of subtext compressed into such a short amount of text.
The author’s biography cites her experience not only in fiction-writing, but also in the worlds of music and film. It’s all visible here. There’s a clear focus on affect and vibe and all the sensory qualities available to prose fiction, and Smith taps into these wells with a vibrancy that brings to mind Gothic post-punk, noise and experimental horror cinema. All this is to say that I thoroughly dig “The Visitor,” and that I recommend it highly to all fans of dark fiction.