It’s a rare thing, a book that sticks with you. That makes you think days after you’ve turned the last page, that takes you down a path to somewhere dark and dangerous and mysterious and amazing all at once. The Fisherman by John Langan is such a book.
In upstate New York, in the woods around Woodstock, Dutchman’s Creek flows out of the Ashokan Reservoir. Steep-banked, fast-moving, it offers the promise of fine fishing, and of something more, a possibility too fantastic to be true. When Abe and Dan, two widowers who have found solace in each other’s company and a shared passion for fishing, hear rumors of the Creek, and what might be found there, the remedy to both their losses, they dismiss it as just another fish story. Soon, though, the men find themselves drawn into a tale as deep and old as the Reservoir. It’s a tale of dark pacts, of long-buried secrets, and of a mysterious figure known as Der Fisher: the Fisherman. It will bring Abe and Dan face to face with all that they have lost, and with the price they must pay to regain it.
The Fisherman is a story within a story within a story. Don’t think of an onion so much as House of Leaves, a book whose impact on me seems only to increase with distance. It’s a bad pun, but The Fisherman reels you in, and once you are hooked, you won’t be able to put it down. I know I’m not giving you much to go on here. In fact, you could say I’m being intentionally vague. It’s not as if there are spoilers that will ruin the book for you, but I went into it with no real knowledge of what I was getting, and I don’t want to ruin that for you.
In short, The Fisherman is the best modern Lovecraftian book I’ve read, but it is also completely accessible to people who’ve never heard of Lovecraft. Langan is a masterful writer, and I can’t wait to experience more of his magic.