Book Reviews

The Fisherman by John Langan (2016) Review

Weathered fishing enthusiast Abe recalls the biggest, most frightening fishing story you’ve yet to hear; all with a vivid imagery and an earnest love of the sport. Strands of science fiction, horror, and the occult swim together in this truly fantastical tale of grief, coping, and the monsters they create. 

Bits and Fragments: Narrator always has a mouthful to say- and at times, this warranted a re-reading or two. A LOT of description (better watch out, King). Healthy dose of fantasy and action; if this is a snooze to you, you’re warned.

The Nitty Gritty:  The Fisherman has received generally high praise from other reviewers, this one included. While what is on the pages was largely unexpected, it was not a waste nor a disappointment. The amount of research Langan did for the story is obvious and impressive, considering he isn’t much of a fisherman himself. That being said, if you don’t know much about fishing or the New York wilderness, you may feel a bit lost or bored at times. 

The characters crafted within The Fisherman are stand alone, especially the mysterious Der Fisherman himself. The backstory of the fisherman was probably the most engaging section for me personally, as it had rooting in Gothic horror themes and that’s always a plus. There was also black magic galore, something I haven’t seen in awhile in horror fiction. That usage of it was streamlined into the vein of science fiction/Lovecraftian, and while that became engorged, the particularly frightening aspects of the story floated by the wayside at moments. They weren’t completely shut down, as they reemerged from time to time, but it’s true nature was that of a fantasy beast. The narrator and I didn’t particularly click. Abe was a windbag and nobody has ever told him that, so the rambling went on for awhile. This wasn’t entertaining if you don’t care for fishing or rivers. There were also moments that the depictions of the fisherman’s story and the legend surrounding him could almost be seen as a hokey horror movie teenagers watch on a Tuesday discount night; think along the lines of ‘The Bye Bye Man’ or ‘Darkness Falls’, that type of vibe. However, the amount of lore and history behind The Fisherman that the author created has hopefully secured it from any potentially grubby screenplay. It deserves a solid budget and a carefully outlined plot, as the layers to The Fisherman go deep.

Long Story Short (Too Late): The Fisherman is a fantasy novel with dashes of scary bits and Lovecraftian essence. It’s sure to please fans of King’s limitless imagination and those who are eager to learn of a new haunting legend of fiction that they haven’t discovered yet. Take the proper time to read this novel, as it can get wordy and you may be tempted to flip through. The time that went into constructing backstories upon backstories was an apparent labor of love and in turn, it produced a fishing tale that’s both haunting and sobering. 


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