The Fisherman

John Langan
The Fisherman Cover

The Fisherman


I have read and enjoyed John Langan's short fiction in various anthologies and his own collection The Wide Carnivorous Sky. This new novel defeated me.

At his frequent best, Langan writes long stories that build complex situations in which characters confront the supernatural in contexts that test their courage and their relationships with friends and family. The Fisherman opens in the present day with an overlong introduction to two men who have both suffered the loss of their wives. Fishing creates a tenuous bond between them, and their exploration of obscure creeks and streams in upstate New York is leading them to a dark and dangerous place.

The first person narration switches to a retelling of a legend from the early twentieth century. A community of immigrants hired to clear land for a new reservoir encounter evil doings and elder gods that hint at apocalyptic outcomes. This is all pretty predictable stuff, and the story-within-a-story structure does not bear a voice that lends it immediacy or genuine creepiness. When I saw that I was only about halfway through the novel, I called it quits.