"Too much of what’s called grimdark is little more than sex and gore splashed over a standard epic fantasy story. True horror — and at its heart, Helen’s Daimones is a horror story — unsettles, disorients, and makes you feel like the world will fall out from under your feet at any moment. Lindberg’s novel does all those things."
"There are strange territories in the wilds of swords & sorcery that have been visited successfully by only a handful of writers. They are places where, aside from some actual swords and sorcery, few of the common trappings of the genre are found. Magic may be phatasmagorical, the world — both physically and culturally — has no echoes of our own, and the hero is more likely to be a golem, a resurrected nobleman, or a little girl than an axe-swinging warrior.
Some of C.L. Moore’s Jirel stories and most of Clark Ashton Smith’s oeuvre mapped portions of these realms. In Throne of Bones, Brian McNaughton brought back a detailed study of one nation. Michael Shea and Darrell Schweitzer mapped whole continents. They’re dangerous places, permeated by darkness and decay, and the scent of death is rarely absent from the thick, curdled air.
S.E. Lindberg’s short novel, Helen’s Daimones (2017), is one such tale of this diseased stretch of the world of swords & sorcery. I can’t say this book quite attains the same heights as Shea’s Nifft the Lean or Schweitzer’s The Mask of the Sorcerer, but much of the time it comes tantalizingly close."