Shakespeare Vs. Cthulhu Paperback – 2 Aug 2016
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Top customer reviews
"Imagine," we are asked, "if it had been William Shakespeare, England’s greatest playwright, who had discovered the truth about the Great Old Ones and the cosmic entity we know as Cthulhu, rather than the American horror writer H P Lovecraft."
It's an intriguing idea, and one which presents us with two types of response. One through a loosely connected trilogy of tales involving the bard himself, and the other through a series of alternate versions of the Shakespearian plays themselves.
I'll cover the stories individually, avoiding mention of the Lovecraftian twists involved, to give readers at least a little mystery:
Jonathan Oliver's Star-Crossed kicks things off, giving us a bloody modern tale in which a performance of Romeo and Juliet is corrupted by the a sorcerer's grimoire.
Michael Carroll's A Madness Most Discreet takes us to Verona for another tale inspired by Romeo and Juliet.
Adrian Tchaikovsky's Something Rotten sees Hamlet visit the tombs of Denmark, uncovering the real reason for his madness.
C L Werner's Once More Unto the Breach gives us a Henry V whose truck with wizardry brings him to a very different kind of breach, and a very different battle on St Crispin's Day.
Josh Reynolds' A Tiger's Heart, A Player's Hide is the first of three stories involving Shakespeare himself, here at the end of his 'lost years' as his career, set against the backdrop of a plague ravaging London, is about to launch.
NImue Brown's What Dreams May Come provides us with the first of two Lovecraftian sonnets.
Andy Lane's The “Iä”s of March revisits the plot to kill Julius Caesar, and the deals that were made to ensure its success.
Ian Edgington's The Undiscovered Country offers up a prequel to The Tempest, exploring Prospero's sorcerous origins.
Adrian Chamberlin's The Suns of York presents Richard III as an altogether more terrifying bottled spider.
Guy Haley's A Reckoning continues Shakespeare's adventures, this time exploring the dark truths behind the murder of his friend Christopher Marlowe.
James Lovegrove's Exit, pursued by...? eschews The Winters' Tale's bear in favour of something altogether more Cthulhoid.
Despite the title, Ed Fortune's The King in Yellow Stockings brings us a brief glimpse of Twelfth Night as a tragedy rather than a comedy.
Pat Kelleher's The Terrors of the Earth adds a touch of Campbell and Lumley to the legend of King Lear.
John Reppion's Exeunt concludes the trilogy of stories starring Shakespeare, this time of a his final meal and a dark secret revealed therein.
Graham McNeill's Something Wicked This Way Comes gives us a version of Macbeth that focuses on the millennial era's desire to achieve celebrity at all costs, reminding me of the BBC's recent modern retellings of Shakespeare's tales, but much darker.
Finally, Jan Siege's #Tempest gives us an ultra modern take on that very play, using the style and limitations to shape a unique and entertaining tale.
I enjoyed reading the book, but it also one I was pleased to enjoy in hard copy rather than in Kindle form, and that's down to the format and the typesetting. The design is taken from play manuscripts of the time and adds a sense of visual aesthetic to the read. It also helps ground the stories it contains.
The stories themselves are a bit of a mixed bag. None of them were rubbish, but a few did stand out above the others. The story about Henry V really shined for me. It was also interesting to see how the different authors tackled the blend in stories. Some were more explicit than others, while some simply took inspiration and followed their own path. The Twitter sonnet at the end was a nice construct.
While the variance in quality can be expected in an anthology like this, it's strength also stems from that variety. The range of stories from Shakespeare is impressive, as is how they were handled. There's some lovely craft here.
So I liked this a lot, it was a fun concept, that delivered on its premise. Highly recommended.
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