‘Helen’s Daimones‘ by S.E. Lindberg exists in its own category. It’s a pretty remarkable book both strange and horrible along with well-written and striking. It taps into many genres and uses tropes from many storytelling methods, jumping back and forth from one to another with dizzying agility. It’s something close to a horror story, and something close to a fairy tale. Imagine the Wizard of Oz but with a sequence where a woman gives birth to a swarm of wasps, then come up with an image to top that one and repeat. That little exercise will give you an idea of what you’re in for with ‘Helen’s Daimones.’
The imagery is the key to this novel, and I kind of wish Guillermo del Torro would pick up the rights (I bet S.E. Lindberg would wish that as well). I have to admit that this novel subjected me to a certain amount of disorientation, but the reviewer at Black Gate had much the same impression. According to his Amazon profile, S.E. Lindberg was a professional chemist for two decades, and he describes his Dyscrasia fiction as follows:
Dyscrasia Fiction explores the choices humans and their gods make as a disease corrupts their souls, shared blood and creative energies. Historically, dyscrasia referred to any imbalance of the four medicinal humors professed by the ancient Greeks to sustain life (phlegm, blood, black and yellow bile)
My impression after having read this short explanation along with the book is that this series of Dyscrasia books represents something of an artistic exploration of the fundamental darkness that led to the scientific age (in an allegorical sense of course). There’s a sense of intellectual, primordial stew that permeates the pages. Reading ‘Helen’s Daimones’ is like traversing the nightmares of early alchemists.
There are some truly spectacular passages of writing often featuring grotesque, insect imagery. These can be mulled over for as long as you wish. The plot is a little more difficult as I often found myself a little confused as to what was real and what was a horrible hallucination or dream. This confusion didn’t evoke frustration so much as a desire to reexamine this book at a later date.
S.E. Lindberg is an author to take seriously. This is a well-conceived story filled with passion. I sense there is a greater meaning lingering just beyond the reaches of my comprehension. Something tells me revisiting and studying this whole Dyscrasia series will have a considerable benefit.
To read a segment of ‘Helen’s Daimones’ click the link below: