A Child Across The Sky is a somewhat morbid, yet subtle psychological horror story from Jonathan Carroll. It seems only fitting that the subject of my university dissertation should get a mention within its pages, as Elias Canetti has also wrote a morbid, psychologically horrifying book; only Crowds and Power is not a story.
A Child Across The Sky sees successful filmmaker Weber Gregston hearing about the suicide of his best friend, horror movie icon Phil Strayhorn. Gregston has been left three videos by Strayhorn, in which he tries to explain unaccounted mysteries and thoughts that have occurred and plagued them throughout their lives, seemingly from beyond the grave. Gregston is also charged with shooting a scene from an upcoming Strayhorn movie, the last in the notorious Midnight series. If Gregston can do it right, it will atone for the dead man’s sins, according to Strayhorn’s guardian angel.
Carroll examines seemingly innocent concoctions of human imagination and turns them into something dangerous. Here, he looks at what would happen if an imaginary childhood friend were to appear in physical form in adulthood. They’re not just here to play Snap or Hide and Seek. He also looks into what is evil, and whether evil can sometimes be good in its own way.
The tone of Carroll’s books is that of a dream within reality. Reading them is like having one of those awkward, uncomfortable, at times incomprehensible, yet intriguing dreams that simultaneously frightens and enquires; and that you want to know how it turns out but more often than not you wake up before it ends.
Unlike those dreams, however, on waking up you do not want to push the memories from your mind. A Child Across The Sky may be haunting, yet in a way it is also rather beautiful because of the intricate manner in which Carroll weaves his story and portrays his tortured, human characters.
Apart from one instance when the development of Gregston’s relationship with Strayhorn’s girlfriend could be seen coming a mile off, for the most part the story is undoubtedly fresh, as is the case with many of Carroll’s works.