Lye Street is a 135 page novella exclusively available from Subterranean Press in two unique, limited editions — a fully cloth bound hardcover signed by the author (numbered to 2000) and a signed leatherbound copy housed in a custom traycase (numbered to 26). Cover artwork is provided by Dave McKean — longtime Neil Gaiman collaborator and noted CD cover artist — while the wonderful interior illustrations are done by the award-winning Bob Eggleton.
One of the best things about Scar Night was the thrilling prologue which first introduced the demonic Carnival, a deranged and immortal angel who feeds on the blood of victims every ‘scar night.’ Lye Street is the prequel to that prologue and ends just where Scar Night begins.
Since Carnival was one of my favorite characters from the book, I found the novella to be particularly satisfying, especially because we get to delve a bit deeper into the renegade angel’s intriguing madness. Specifically, we discover that in addition to the ritual ‘scar night’ slayings, Carnival has also been regularly murdering the descendants of a certain family every fifty years for five generations. Sal Greene is the next target on that list, but the old prospector isn’t going without a fight…he’s hired a phantasmacist to summon the demon Basilis — formerly Ayen’s Hound Master and Heaven’s Lord of Warfare — to kill the scarred angel.
Alas, plans never go quite the way you expect them to, and Sal soon finds himself on a strange quest to free the demon’s physical aspects from the memories of his hounds. Meanwhile, Presbyter Scrimlock has learned of Carnival’s vendetta against the Bucklestrappe family and uses that knowledge to set a trap to destroy the angel once and for all…
Writing a novella or short story is obviously different from writing a long-form novel, especially one that’s part of a series, and not every writer can pull it off. Fortunately, Alan Campbell seems to have a knack for the format and delivers a story that was well-written, fun and interesting — it’s kind of like a gothic, grown-up fairy tale that Neil Gaiman or Tim Burton would cook up — featuring the visually arresting imagery of the city Deepgate and a macabre sense of humor that reminded me of Steven Erikson’s Bauchelain & Korbal Broach novellas. In fact, I was really surprised by how amusing the novella could be at times, which was something that Scar Night lacked.
In the end, I really enjoyed Lye Street. Part of it of course is returning to the unforgettable world of Deepgate and learning more about Carnival, but also a lot of the problems that plagued the debut are nowhere to be found, and in a couple of areas, the novella actually excels over the book. So, if you were a fan of Scar Night, I’m pretty confident that you’ll like Lye Street, which is an excellent companion piece. And if you haven’t read Scar Night yet, then no worries because Lye Street is also the perfect introduction to author Alan Campbell and the Deepgate Codex.