The opening "Souvenirs from a Damnation," a list of 21 objects and their mysterious history, is exemplary of the magical realist stories and Lovecraft homages in this collection: a narrator sees friends and/or colleagues consumed by dreadful magics, and narrowly escapes or maybe doesn't. This theme is best explored in "The Jest of Yig," the self-mocking tale of an occult writer who gets in over his head; "The Agony Man," about a model enthralled by a charismatic sculptor who specializes in portraits of pain; and "It Sounded Angular," wherein six college students go a little too far with the wrong sort of tripping. The narrative distance is most interesting when bridged by circumstances that force the narrator to take action. A former High Priest of the Temple of Set, Webb (Endless Honeymoon) is perhaps too familiar with the intersection of the real and the mystical, and after going through these somewhat repetitive warnings against occult dabblings, the reader shares his ennui. (Nov.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.