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on 30 July 2013
This is a loosely linked collection of seven novellas/short stories touching upon the world of H P Lovecraft's Cthulhu Mythos.
The stories are:

The Dulwich Horror of 1927
Two Fingers
The Devils in the Deep Blue Sea
The Monsters in the Park
The Thing in the Vault
Vinum Sabbatum
Shadows from the Witch House

** Note I have tried to avoid spoilers and too much revelation of the plot of these stories but I apologise if some has slipped in**

The Dulwich Horror reads like the synopsis of a Call of Cthulhu RPG scenario, and is none the worse for that, it is a re-imagining, as its name suggests, of Lovecraft's Dunwich Horror (1929). It makes an admirable job of capturing the spirit of the period and successfully avoids the egregious anachronisms that so often affect such pastiche.

Two Fingers although having some of the attributes of a Lovecraftian story has more of the feel of a Tales of the Unexpected or an excerpt from an Amicus "portmanteau picture". It, however, suffers the worst from a problem that all of these stories are prone to; that is dreadful proof reading one of the characters changes their name for part of the story presumably the effect of an earlier draft.

The Devils in the Deep Blue Sea leaves London for a voyage to the Tasman Sea in 1885. It is probably the weakest of the stories here, owning much to the Johanssen Narrative from Call of Cthulhu (1928). The story is rather superficial and lacking in substance even for a short story.

The Monsters in the Park is inspired by The Shadow out of Time (1936) and is a serviceable story possibly a little dependent upon its links to real events for shock value but enjoyable none the less.

The Thing in the Vault is a Dashiell Hammett/H P Lovecraft pastiche and done extremely well. The story also has a feel of some of the earlier Simon Templar stories. If you enjoy this story while awaiting David Hambling's next work I would suggest checking out the Teddy London stories of Robert Morgan (C J Henderson).

Vinum Sabbatum although a well written story feels slightly out of place in this collection having more of the feel of a fairytale than the nihilism that usually permeates the Chtulhu Mythos. By this point in the collection, however, this does provide a welcome pause.

Shadows from the Witch House the concluding story in the collection and the sequel to The Dulwich Horror is an excellent gothic tale of decadence and madness; although to my mind the feel of the story is more 1890s than 1920s it wraps up both the collection and the story arc admirably.

All in all an enjoyable collection. I would however say that the poor proof reading was a great disappointment and very annoying and would hope that future publications by this author improve upon this. I am aware that a professional proof reader can be expensive but even an amateur such as myself would have caught many of the errors that spoilt the flow of the stories.

Indeed if the author wants I would be happy to proofread his next collection for nothing more than a free copy!

I should note that I was able to purchase this book for nothing following an offer posted by the author on the Yog Sothoth forum.
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on 2 November 2013
There are an awful lot of Cthulhu Mythos short story collections out there. As a fan of H P Lovecraft I've checked out quite a few of them and the quality varies widely. But I was attracted to this collection by its setting - the South London suburb where I spent my childhood. I was curious to see how the Old Ones would be portrayed in the scenes of my youth; and I was not disappointed. Mr Hambling has identified the dark heart of suburban London and has made it into a convincing home for HPL's creatures. His stories avoid the slight jokiness which mars so many contemporary additions to the Mythos, without becoming depressing portrayals of a seedy London backwater, and take Lovecraft's concepts in new and startling directions which never lose sight of their origin. For a Lovecraft fan, these stories are extremely enjoyable, and I look forward to more tales from Mr Hambling.
My view of the dinosaurs at Crystal Palace park will never be the same again...
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on 3 October 2013
I should hasten to add that not every story in this collection lives up to the review title. in fact only one does but it alone is worth the price of the book and several of the other stories are really quite well done with only a couple missing the mark.

The stories are (mainly) English-based mythos tales and the style has enough to Lovecraftian feel to seem right, and there are enough references to Lovecraft's original work to be amusing and clever without being so many as to devolve into mere parody or re-hashing.

There are linking threads to most of the tales and the linked tales are easily the strongest in the collection.

The Dulwich Horror of 1927 opens the collection and has some very clever (and fittimng) ideas on such aspects of the mythos as, for instance, exactly how R'leyh would 'rise' were the stars to be right. It did suffer from something Lovecraft himself was susceptible to, an overall sense of disconnection from the full horror. But despite that it's a good and interesting read.

Two Fingers. This, frankly, was fairly poor. I've never read any Jeffrey Archer but I suspect this would be the sort of thing he'd produce if he turned his had to the mythos. It felt wrong on a number of levels and while it wasn't awful I didn't feel it really fitted with the tone of the other stories and it rather detracted from the book by its inclusion.

The Devils in the Deep Blue Sea. This was a decent story though I felt undermined slightly by the suggestion that there was a wider knowledge of the entities involved than is common. But a good read nonethless.

The Monsters in the Park. This is really a sequel to The Dulwich Horror, and again is cleverly done. Well worth a read.

The Thing in the Vault. Raymond Chandler does Cthulhu. This was a strange mix of pulp types and came off fairly well although the end is straight from Lovecraft's original. Worth a read.

The Norwood Builder. Clever but flawed and not really at all in keeping with the theme of the other stories. If you can overlook the fact the police would have easily determined the heroine's whereabouts at a crucial time via her phone logs, it's a decent yarn and raises a smile at the end (which also makes it very out of place).

Shadows from the Witch House. Third in the 'trilogy' of linked stories. This is genius. Really. It has everything Lovecraft would and yet is witty (which Lovecraft never was) and easily the most plausible of all the stories.

Buy the book and read The Dulwich Horror, Monsters in the Park and Shadows from the Witch House. Read the others as you have the time and inclination. But Shadows . . . is pure class and I doubt a better Lovecraftian horror has been written.
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on 23 September 2013
I came to this collection not as a devotee of HP Lovecraft, but as a longtime resident of Norwood - inspired into purchasing by a piece in the trusty Croydon Advertiser. I was a bit concerned about my lack of familiarity with Lovecraft's work, but I needn't have worried. Though there are certain details that probably would have been more rewarding if I were more literate in the Lovecraftian vernacular, the author succeeds in making these stories comprehensible and entertaining in their own right - both individually and as a collective, with lots of ingenious connections slowly revealing themselves. By the end of the final story, I felt I had read a fully-fledged novel - one that had emerged with all the stealth of the dark forces it depicts, and which was more disturbing as a result.

As with the horror elements, you don't need to be familiar with the history and geography of Norwood to appreciate the stories' keen sense of place - although, again, the more specific references are probably most effective for those of us who live nearby. There is something palpably strange about this part of London - from the cosseted privacy of the Dulwich estate to the remnants of a gypsy past amid the brooding extant fragments of the Great North Wood - and Lovecraft's arsenal of monsters, mystery and scientifically-credible magic is well-suited to what is undeniably a shadowy, slippery corner of the capital.

Most impressive of all, however, is the ambitious range of the stories - and the fact that Hambling has the stylistic versatility to pull it off. Though underpinned by a common mythos and inspired by a single setting, the tales range from the present-day Upper Norwood triangle to the seas off Australia in the late 19th century, via prohibition-era Chicago. This variety is key to the collection's success. It not only keeps things fresh, but conveys the scale of the terrors which threaten the established order of things - terrors which are simultaneously everywhere and nowhere, sometimes glimpsed, frequently doubted, and occasionally confronted in all their hideous glory.
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on 5 November 2013
A collection of tales set in both the classic '20s/'30s period and a variety of others earlier and later. The stories themselves are set firmly within the framework that Lovecraft established, there's no new Mythos making here. I enjoyed all of the stories, some more that others, which is what you'd expect in an anthology. I describe them as sturdy: good enough to enjoy all of, but not exciting enough to go proselytising about the book to other fans. I liked that the author kept to Lovecraft's scientific materialism.
I will echo another comment that whoever did the proof reading had clearly been sniffing too much fetid ichor because it's very poor indeed. You will find that you are having to mentally correct the text every paragraph or so. I found it worth the irritation, but would welcome a corrected edition.
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on 6 August 2013
Shadows from Norwood,

a collection of Mythos stories, some of which are linked, and some standalone, The linked stories taken as a group were very very good, (some were weaker than others, and after the first most would not stand up on there own. The standalone stories were good but I did like the linked ones better.

Overall I am looking forward to reading more of these tales
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on 14 December 2013
Very good short story book from the Cthulhu mythos, very lovecraft in execution and pace. Like Cthulhu or lovecraft then give this a go a real bargain at the price.
I hope the author keeps it up.
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on 25 September 2013
Really good set of stories with a varied range. Perhaps the story featuring the Fungi from Yuggoth is a bit too close to the original The Whisperer in Darkness but has a nice hardboiled tale around it, I think this stands out as the only story set in the US rather than London as well. Anyway, very enjoyable.
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on 24 November 2013
Enjoyable stories which nicely update and continue the Lovecraftian universe. I would give it 4 stars if it wasn't for the apparent lack of proof reading - almost every page has at least one missing, wrong or repeated word, or the words in a sentence muddled up, which sometimes make it hard to understand what's meant. This spoils an otherwise good read.
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on 25 March 2014
A collection of stories in the vein of the Cthulu mythos set mainly in London. Very readable, well written, great if you are a fan of the genre and possibly even if you aren't. If you enjoy Charles Stross' Laundry books, you'll probably enjoy this - it's not the same but the flavour is similar.
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