Rjurik Davidson is a writer with a unique voice. At once romantically yearning and darkly insecure, his work straddles the deep contradictions of the human spirit transporting the reader into a symbolic dreamspace where the hopes and fears of his protagonists play out.
A welcome addition to UK firm PS Publishing’s ‘Showcase Series’ is Rjurik’s debut collection, The Library of Forgotten Books, containing six stories, four of which are previously unpublished. The majority of the tales are set in Rjurik’s Caeli Amur universe which first saw the light of day with the publication of his story ‘The Passing of the Minotaurs’ in 2005. Caeli Amur is a Byzantine world with competing houses using strange mixtures of physics, botany and magic in their struggle for dominance, while the everyday people just try to get by without being caught up in their deadly machinations.
With four Caeli Amur stories appearing together, I get the feeling we’re reaching a critical creational mass. It’s a great thing to be able to watch an imaginary world being constructed around you, and the stories in this collection, as well as delivering engaging tales with equal measures of humanity and weirdness, do just that, and demonstrate that Caeli Amur has the potential to be a richly detailed and exciting world with many more tales to tell than the ones contained here. The other two stories, ‘The Cinema of Coming Attractions’ and ‘Int. Morgue. Night.’ share a common link with a distinctly filmic feel. The second, being a Marlowesque homage is the weaker of the two. This is ground that has been well-trodden and it’s difficult to breathe new life into it. But ‘The Cinema of Coming Attractions’ works on so many levels, it’s a triumph. A riff on determinism with people who seem as trapped as the celluloid characters they’re so reminiscent of, speaking lines that similarly are almost deadened of all meaning; but still hoping, still trying. It’s a story that stays with you long after the final fade out.
The Library of Forgotten Books is a startling new collection from a writer to watch.