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Welcome South of the River Mr Lovecraft
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
The Devils in the Deep Blue Sea
The Monsters in the Park
The Thing in the Vault
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.