The cryptic suits that mark Northampton’s deck: Flames, Churches, Heads, and Dogs

Alan Moore has also written a novel. It wasn’t enough for him to be the world’s greatest comic book writer? He must put authors to shame as well?

Yes. Yes, he must.

The stories in Voice of the Fire span 6000 years, but only a small geographical area. It’s sort of a mystical history of Northampton, told by odd and abnormal people: a retarded boy, a sociopath, a decapitated head, a witch, two madmen. The stories are unconnected, except through common themes such as cripples, detached heads, people burned alive, and the magic attached to the place itself. The events of one story become the legends of the next, echoing through dreams and visions. And the final narrator is Alan Moore himself, another odd and abnormal Northampton resident.

Moore doesn’t make it easy for us. The first story is written in a strange, but consistent, grammar, so that every sentence is a riddle. As in, 50 pages of “Fire’s black bout of he’s eyes. Fire’s blood on of he’s horns.” First-time readers of Alan Moore will give up, and should first get to know him through his comics. (No, the movie versions don’t count.) Fans will know that it’s worth it, because Alan Moore is a genius.

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