Review

Review

Book Review: Brian James Freeman's 'Weak and Wounded' (Cemetery Dance Limited Edition)

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Since 1995 and their release of the Dean Koontz limited edition of Strange Highways, Cemetery Dance Publications has evolved into one of the premiere publishers of genre limited editions. They’ve become known for their sumptuous, oversized work – their massive release of Stephen King's IT: The Twenty-Fifth Anniversary Edition comes to mind – but one of the company’s most interesting projects is their Novella Series.
 
These short novels always received the same care and attention as Cemetery Dance’s major publications: limited print runs, Smyth-sewn bindings, acid free paper, illustrations, and signatures by the authors. In recent years, Cemetery Dance has brought the aesthetics of their Novella Series to other higher-profile limited edition novella-length titles, like Stephen King’s Blockade Billy and The Dark Man and Peter Straub’s Pork Pie Hat and The Buffalo Hunter.
 
Weak_WoundedNow comes the new limited edition of Brian James Freeman’s Weak and Wounded. Freeman’s collection of five short stories bound by mood, tension, and theme receives the attention that a work of this caliber deserves. The stories pack deep punches, all in some way exploring the almost livable dread of existing in worlds dulled by perpetual horror. Glenn Chadbourne (Stephen King’s The Secretary of Dreams) packs the volume with his evocative illustrations, each populated by dead people or dead places, each of which seem to stare mutely at the reader with blank, sometimes hidden faces.
 
The attention paid to the physical book more than lives up to the book’s creative standards. Clothbound and Smyth-sewn, Weak and Wounded is available in two editions: the hardcover numbered edition of 750 copies, and the traycased lettered edition of only 26 copies (A-Z), bound in leather and featuring a satin ribbon page marker. The title and author are embossed in gold foil on the cover, wrapped in a dust jacket featuring spooky art by Vincent Chong (whose terrific work recently appeared in the Subterranean Press limited edition of The Shining). The actual paper feels better than that of a regular mass-market hardcover – less course, somehow softer. The signature page completes the package, with Freeman, Chadbourne, and Ron McLarty (who provides a short but illustrative foreword) signing above the limitation information.
 
Stephen King once defined limited editions as such: “it is… a way of providing readers with something other than a story… he is not just a book reader or a book owner, but a book custodian… This gives the book back its proper status not just as something to be sold by the pound at street auctions or to stick on shelves and forget… but as a living object in which the reader/owner/custodian has a vital part.” Cemetery Dance seems to take these principles to heart. While they have always amazed with their extravagant editions, books like Weak and Wounded continue to prove that they can impress on a smaller scale, too.
 

Kevin Quigley is an author whose website, CharnelHouseSK.com, is one of the leading online sources for Stephen King news, reviews, and information. He has written several books on Stephen King for Cemetery Dance Publications, including a book on comics and Stephen King, Drawn Into Darkness, as well as Chart of Darkness, Blood In Your Ears, and Stephen King Limited, and co-wrote the recently released Stephen King Illustrated Movie Trivia Book. His first novel, I’m On Fire, is forthcoming. Find his books at cemeterydance.com

 

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