Twisted in Dream is a collection of weird poetry, mostly Lovecraftian pastiche or drawn from his work. (One need not be overly familiar with the master’s dark prose and verse, but some knowledge would make these poems more enjoyable.) Ann K. Schwader takes you far down into the bowels of Egyptian tombs in poems such as “The Ghoul-Queen” to outside the far-flung stars in “The Wind Beyond.” And no matter where she takes you, her words echo the master’s.
Not only has Schwader written poems after H. P. Lovecraft’s own poems and stories, but she also retells a number of his stories in the form of long poems like “Charles Dexter Unwarded,” and “In the Yaddith Time.” Yet, with all the focus on the Lovecraftian verse, I found the last section of Twisted in Dream, Private Shadows, the most enjoyable. Here, Schwader unleases herself from constraints. Poems such as “In the Night Garden” and the prosy “Coming Forth by Twilight,” are both dark and disturbing to say the least, yet the first stanza of “The Laughter of Small Bones” does best to sum up the entire collection:
Consider the laughter
of small bones just under
this friction of grass
If you’re a fan of weird poetry, especially in the vein of H. P. Lovecraft and Clark Ashton Smith, I recommend this collection. Weird poetry may not be for everyone, but Twisted in Dream may very well be the collection to spark an interest in such things as squamous creatures, blasts of eldritch power, and trips through darker planes.
A version of this review originally appeared in Tales of the Talisman 8.3.