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Disclaimer: This is a Lovecraftian influenced novel and I have never read H.P. Lovecraft. I have only seen some of the film adaptations made in the 80’s because my boyfriend was silly enough to let me choose the movies we rented back then. Yes, back then when one had to travel to an actual video store to rent a movie. From Beyond, Re-Animator, The Unnamable? How I loved them so but I’m guessing these flicks probably took some liberties with Lovecraft’s work.
This book may take liberties with Lovecraft’s intentions too or it may not. Diehards will know the truth, but me? Hell if I know. What I do know is that, like many a themed short story collection, this one has a few that I enjoyed a little more than the others but there weren’t any duds and the style remains consistent throughout.
It’s written in what I’m assuming is Lovecraftian style (as if I would know). It’s heavy on the descriptive and atmospheric prose, the characters are typically intelligent fellows or hard-laboring types and the cast is almost entirely made up of these men with an occasional woman (usually with bad intentions) making an appearance. It’s all about the men encountering strange, unearthly madness inducing monsters. All of the stories are tied together by a legendary evil and a book that can bring forth the end of times for humankind. Creepy stuff, oh yes, you will find it here.
The basic story wrap-around story that binds them all together, is one of a young, eager scholar who sets out to retrieve a legendary book after he’s asked to do so by a professor he admires. A storm arrives and he’s stranded in a pub with a bunch of men who all have tall tales to tell. Strangely convenient coincidence or Cthulu’s influence? Again, hell if I know.
The men share their tales which are basically retellings of some of these classic horror gems.
They’re all quietly creeptastic and it’s easy to see where a few of them are going if you read too much horror as a kid. I’d have to say the Wendigo might be my favorite but I also loved the slow build of the asylum tale where the inmates far outnumber the staff and a young newbie is told, most ominously, "They are in charge. We just do what we can." Yikes, you just know some bad shit is going to go down but it doesn’t happen in a predicable way.
All of the stories are enjoyable if you’re in the mood for atmosphere and a slower pace and the wrap around story ties it all together so it never feels like a bunch of shorter stories tossed in for whatever reason. They all interlock together nice and neatly and are genuinely unnerving.