Graduate student Xavier Wentworth has been drawn to Shimmer, hoping to study with the artists who reside there. Xavier will find that others, too, have been drawn to Shimmer, called by something more than art, something in the marsh itself, a mysterious, spectral hue.
Gidney's previous fiction and poetry have shown a daring openness when it comes to genre, and A Spectral Hue is cut from similar cloth. In one sense, it's a quiet, confidently told tale of identity — gay, black, artistic, and ancestral — that resonates on a wholly realistic level. In another, it's a hybrid of horror, folklore, dark fantasy, and magic realism that whispers and twists ... The book's plot opens gradually, like petals on a flower, but Gidney masterfully orchestrates this slow reveal ... [Gidney] tells a sumptuous tale, an incremental immersion in American myth that recalls Neil Gaiman and Octavia E. Butler. His power of description is as clean and controlled as it is overflowing; sounds, smells, textures, and visions abound ... A wondrous pondering of art, memory, race, and history, Gidney's novel is a trompe l'oeil tapestry in its own right.
For me, there’s no greater thrill than seeing an author use fiction as a platform to examine their original driving urge—art itself. A Spectral Hue by Craig Laurance Gidney is one such book ... the book unfolds as an exploration of timelines...but it’s most gripping moments are in its non-supernatural beginning ... Unfortunately, A Spectral Hue’s slimness and large cast of characters keep it from reaching its full potential, although not to the point of dismissal. Gidney’s a strong writer and his characterizations are quick and effective—populating his novel on fringe art with believable fringe people ... A Spectral Hue sticks more landings than it misses ... In an alternate universe, this could have been a Straubian 600 page epic, complete with interweaving plotlines, set in a rich world of outcasts and academics alike. But in ours, we get a tamer, but still appreciable achievement—a short, fast read that makes up for what it lacks with what it offers.
This dreamy dark fantasy focuses on unraveling artistic ecstasy and obsession ... Xavier’s story winds back on itself and trickles revelations piece by piece until the abrupt, upsetting, entirely appropriate ending...this lushly written fantasy raises many questions about the nature of art and its toll on artists and answers few of them. Readers prepared to be disturbed and unsettled will find this novel gripping and immersive.