My Birthday Post is About Star Wars

I just read Chuck Wendig’s first two posts on how he’d change the Sequel Trilogy of Star Wars and am thoroughly entertained. I’ve dabbled a bit in similar fan-fiction a while back when I had the ambition to rewrite the Prequel Trilogy with the small change of Anakin dying during the podrace. I didn’t get far and it’s not my best work, but I was a dumb college kid, so lay off.


As a long time fan of Star Wars, I loved this idea and have been inspired to make some commentary on Star Wars. I figure that Star Wars is the fandom that’s had the largest impact on my life and I wanted to take a minute and really dive deep into its effect on my and my thoughts on how the world has been reacting to it.


Disclaimer: I really liked the Sequel Trilogy. Heck, I really like the Prequel Trilogy. If you didn’t, that’s ok and I love that you’ve got your own opinion about it, but take your attitude and keep it in your pocket. My world is one of peace and fun. If you can’t peacefully discuss your fun, then GTFO. That goes for everything I talk about. Ever.

Star Wars is awesome. Dude, I’m not even joking. You’ve got a hero class that you can view as anything. Space Wizard, Holy Crusader Knight, Embodiment for Good. You’ve got other heroes that fit every need; Rogues, Soldiers, Pilots. You’ve got damned good villains. You’ve got OUTER SPACE! It’s just awesome.


I was around 13 years old when I learned about the existence of Star Wars through a Muppet Babies parody. When my mom realized that I definitely wasn’t getting the joke she went to Greg’s Butcher Block and rented the whole trilogy. Then she bought me the Thrawn Trilogy from Salvation Army’s bookshelf because she knew I was a heavy reader and would want more.


I was hooked.


How hooked? I read every single Expanded Universe (now referred to as Legends) title that I could get my hand on. I watched fan films over a dial-up internet connection, annoying my dad that he couldn’t get any calls until it was done loading. I grew a mullet for the Attack of the Clones premiere. I choreographed lightsaber duels with my friends and a mid-eighties VHS Camera. I acted out said-duels in front of a children’s summer camp while working there as a camp counselor.


Of course, I lamented when it was declared that the Expanded Universe no longer counted as Canon and the Sequel Trilogy wouldn’t follow it, but I was still excited to see what they did.


I experienced every emotion on the spectrum when I watched The Force Awakens.And The Last Jedi.And again with The Rise of Skywalker.


In my head, the individual movies and stories were never that, individual. They were just chapters in a large story. That was my biggest upset with the announcement regarding the Expanded Universe. I felt like they were saying “We’re rewriting the second half of the story you’ve already spent the time and energy on.” The rush of adrenaline that was my experience with The Force Awakens helped me get over that.So, I’ve never been huge on “Which movie was your favorite” styled questions because I like the whole book, not just one chapter. (Although Starfighters of Adumar is very likely my favorite EU title. I’m a hypocrite, and I’m ok with that.)


And even more so, I just don’t understand why everyone is upset over the movie. Even if I didn’t like the Sequel Trilogy (the last chapter of the story, if you will), in my head that’s just how it went. That world has been so real to me that “like” never had anything to do with any of the individual chapters. That’d be like me saying that I didn’t like that one month in college. Well, tough. It’s part of the story, and you really liked the rest of it, so move on.


That’s me though, and I understand people approach their fandoms with a certain level of “I’ve invested this much effort, and therefore it’s mine.” I deal with that kind of thing through writing fanfics and stories in my head that fix those kinds of things (see my Aliens: Legion post, or ask me sometimes about where I think Man of Steel 2 or a Quantum Leap reboot could go). Some people don’t have those outlets.


Now, please bear with me as I dive off of the deep end and speak to the heart of what I believe to be the fuel behind the Star Wars controversies, rage, and internet freakouts.


Required Rant That Sounds Like a Madhouse Conspiracy: All of this hate around the Sequel Trilogy is a stupid joke that’s gone way out of hand and that is spurred on by the media. Don’t believe me? Check out MediaWeb’s Facebook account. Or check out anything on Gizmodo that is tagged with Star Wars. In one day, MovieWeb will post six articles, all around fanning the different opinions with the most clickbait headlines I’ve ever read. Why do they do this? Because they’ve all learned that the thing that gets the most clicks is controversy in the comments section. If you aren’t making them argue, you’re irrelevant. (If you want to see this in action, then watch how Gizmodo, and Jezebel media treat Amazon and Jeff Bezos. Every link is an Amazon Affiliate link, they encourage you to buy Amazon products in Kinja Deal posts, and then they write articles, almost daily, talking about how no one should buy anything from Amazon. I understand that journalism needs to be paid for, but this kind of division between managing the company and being the public face of the company is only allowed to go on because it leads to fights in the comments and gets the blog more attention.)


This is where you should put on the tin foil hats: As social media crept onto the scene, stories started creeping up about how the world and the masses could be manipulated through it. Then we get the 2016 election, which was the first time that we have exclusive proof of people (Russian government) using social media to stoke specific reactions and attempt to get a result. People forget that a vocal group of the fans hated the prequels too. What was different? No social media yet.


Still not sure that this whole Star Wars hate is a money-making scheme put on by social media? Luke Skywalker himself, Mark Hamill just quit Facebook because Facebook won’t stop politicians from lying on its platform.


And that news was at the top of my feed this morning, ahead of “Megxit,” “Australian Fires,” and anything with “Trump” in the headline.


How is that news? I’ve got friends that quit Facebook monthly. And did we already forget that Facebook admitted to keeping track of user data of people who don’t sign up for it? He quit it? Great, I’m proud of him, and I support just about everything that wonderful Jedi has ever endeavored to do (I’m looking at you Time Runner). But it isn’t really news, is it? Unless you know I’ll click the article and you’ll make money off the click.

Where I get back on track:I haven’t read any of the new Expanded Universe stuff, which I am definitely saying because I know I mentioned Chuck Wendig and haven’t had a chance to read any of his stuff at all regarding Star Wars that hasn’t been on his blog. I plan on it. I really loved the Mandalorian, and as much as I don’t like commercialism, I’m loving that Disney is making more and more Star Wars. I fear that someday this will change, and I’ll be annoyed with how much the market has been saturated, but that day isn’t today.


Also, my daughter is still at the age where lightsabers scare her… So, I’ve got a lot of work ahead of me.

Winter Tide by Ruthanna Emrys

The problem with Lovecraft Mythos stories, and the same thing that I tend to love about them, is that they are known to dive deeply into the mythos and alienate readers who haven’t spent their lifetimes obsessing about some obscure author from the 1920’s. It makes the stories excellent for those types of readers and keeps everyone else from even picking up the title

That’s not the case with Winter Tide by Ruthanna Emrys. The story uses the magic, race, and creatures of Lovecraft’s mythos to tell a story that doesn’t require foreknowledge. To that point, though, having that foreknowledge is rewarded with small nods and subtle hints as the story progresses.

This book uses the Sherlock/Watson method of telling the story, but does it almost better than even Doyle’s heroes in that it allows the reader to decide if they are the Sherlock or the Watson. The Sherlocks all know what’s coming when the protagonist, Aphra, heads home or discusses the Yith, but the Watsons aren’t left in the dark, as they are pulled along in the adventure and explained what’s going on as they see it for the first time. And none of those explanations come across as heavy-handed narration or as treating the reader as an idiot. Their just seeing it all for the first time, and get to experience the excitement, fear, and dread as if they were actually there.

Aphra’s story is one of race, subjugation, and legacy as she tries to decide what’s to come for her and her people after the Americans destroyed most of Innsmouth and threw the survivors in prison camps. Their story purposefully mirrors that of Asian-Americans during the second World War while also adding an element of the supernatural. While mirroring that horrible tragedy that the government placed on its own people, it also illustrates it by Aphra’s finding family in some of the imprisoned through mutual hardships while also pairing them all up with the very government that sought to ruin them.

Winter Tide has everything, and I thoroughly enjoyed it as both a fan of history and a fan of Lovecraft. 5 out of 5 stars!

Review: Hard Luck Hank Series by Steven Campbell

People read for a lot of different reasons. Unfortunately, a lot of stigmas are put on reading to make it sound like something you have to do for education, brushing up on modern times, or reading incredibly well-crafted fictional worlds with 35 layers of backstory you’ll never know. There’s nothing wrong with those, but TV seems to get away with so much more. If I tell a friend of mine that I love watching It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, simply because Charlie’s character is hilarious in his slapstick humor, then even if that person is only a fan of CSPAN, they’ll recognize my need for entertainment and listen as I ramble on about Charlie’s fixation on the world’s rat problem.


The same thing can’t be said, as frequently anyway, about books. We all know whom I’m talking about. That person or people that just finished Wheel of Time in a weekend, but if you wanted to talk to them about Yahtzee Croshaw, A. Lee Martinez, or Larry Correia they wouldn’t even realize they were rolling your eyes at you.


This is me telling you that it’s ok to read something for the pure enjoyment of it.


And that brings me to today’s review.


I led into this review with that long-winded disclaimer for a very good reason. I’m not trying to say that the Hard Luck Hank series isn’t hard literature. I’m sure that there is a solid argument that it could be. My statement is this: Hard Luck Hank should be read for the pure enjoyment factor.


This review is for the series as a whole, as I’ve binge read all of the main series and have only just started the short stories.


Hard Luck Hank by Steven Campbell is fun. Everything takes place on the space station Belvaille. Belvaille is 15 miles by 15 miles and part of the Colmarian Confederation, a government that seems to have a hard enough time keep it’s grip on just about anything. So much so, that when threatened by the military might of the Dredel Led species (sentient robots), they decided that the best way to protect themselves wasn’t to build up a stronger army or work on negotiations, but instead to mutate the entire population of the Colmarian Confederation.


Hank, the main character is one of those mutations (or is he?) and a resident on Belvaille. With how little the government watches and regulates it’s citizens, Belvaille has turned into a criminal city, with gangs and corrupt politicians running everything. Hank’s role, because of his social skills and his mutation (being incredibly strong and dense enough that most things can’t hurt him), is as a negotiator. If gangs are acting up or someone is in a bad way with the wrong people, Hank steps in to speak on their behalf.
This puts him in the thick of a lot of bad situations that make for excellent action scenes and great adventure.


Hank’s companions add to the flavor of this story. His ex is a corrupt politician and assassin and the closest thing he has to a best friend is a three-brained genius mutant with sociopathic tendencies (he randomly subjects the entire population of Belvaille to chemical and radioactive experiments in the name of science.


I wouldn’t even know what to compare this to in order to give you an idea of what this story is like. It’s serious and silly at the same time and entirely entertaining throughout.


I give everything in the Hard Luck Hank series 5 out of 5 stars. Check it out!

Review: Brightblade by Phipps and Suttkus

Brightblade (The Morgan Detective Agency Book 1) by [Phipps, C. T., Suttkus, Michael]

Brightblade is the newest book in Phipps’s and Suttkus’s United States of Monsters world. This is the world of New Detroit, where supernatural beings decided to make themselves known to everyone a few years back and now the world has to deal with them on a daily (or nightly, in some instances) basis.

Brightblade sticks out because it’s both a new story as well as what I can only describe as the linchpin. This story helps to show you how every other story is connected, aside from that big reveal of monsters being actually under your bed. It does this really well, reminding the readers that outside of the obvious books in the United States of Monsters series, there’s also the Red Room series by these guys.

If there’s one thing that these guys know how to do, it’s building a huge universe to play in.

Brightblade is much more than the “missing link,” though. We have a strong tale of a woman trained to be this generation’s Buffy the Vampire slayer, but much like Buffy, she is quickly learning that everything she’s trained to kill is too intricately woven into her personal life. The MacGuffin for the story lends itself well to her turmoil, as it seems to be the only thing that can untie the complicated knot that is her family and friends and potentially save her from joining them, but she’s struck with the realization that no one wants their “problems” to be undone.

The struggle is real as Ashley (the main character) has to decide if she can love her friends and family with the stains on their souls or if she should go against their wishes and cure them. Which is the bigger evil? How can she learn to unhate everything they are?

This was just another great story in the Phipps and Suttkus catalog and I’m a huge fan. The little nods to characters I’ve learned to love from other books helped to propel me into this story and introduce these new characters in a manner that made them feel new but also as if they were old friends.

It’s a great book and I give it 5 out of 5.

Unfortunately, it’s also made me yearn for the next Weredeer book… Get on that guys!

The Universe is out to get me!

It’s odd how the Universe will randomly fill my schedule with thousands of things to do right when I think I’m finally going to have a week or two to work on my projects.

About 8 days ago, I thought I was going to have a ton of free time to finish Andrew Doran 3 (seriously, how long is this Davenport guy going to take to put that out), a September deadline for an anthology story, and a chance to prep for NaNoWriMo. Unfortunately, that’s not the case at all.

Well, in an effort to combat the Universe’s attempts to thwart my efforts, here I am providing an update.

I’m around 60% done with Andrew Doran and the Scroll of Nightmares. I am taking (and have taken) a break from that in order to hit that Anthology deadline. I’m hoping to finish it quickly enough to get back to working on Andrew Doran to finish it before NaNoWriMo. If I can get it done before the end of October, than Broken Nights 3 will be my NaNoWriMo project. Assuming that I can’t (waves at Universe), I’ll most likely be finishing up Andrew Doran and the Scroll of Nightmares in November.

In other news, the star of my life, my wife, Ren, has started an awesome podcast called “Are We Still Afraid of the Dark?” In it, her and her co-host, Maria, watch and review every episode of the 90’s show “Are You Afraid of the Dark?” They offer commentary, reviews, and dissections in a comical manner and I produce the show! Check it out here. https://www.stillafraidofthedark.club/

Apple Link

Spotify Link

–MD–

Review: Lucifer’s Nebula by Phipps/Suttkus

Lucifer's Nebula (Lucifer's Star)Lucifer’s Nebula, by C. T. Phipps and Michael Suttkus is the second novel in the adventures of Cassius Mass, a devilishly handsome former prince of a cruel planet that no longer exists. This is like Star Wars if it were written in a darker and more cruel (and arguably fun) universe.
Lucifer’s Nebula is a sequel to the first book, Lucifer’s Star, in which we learned that the universe has experienced governmental turmoil, civilizations have been ravaged, and an ancient set of beings known as the Elder Races have left their mark on the current civilization. This book picks up where the first left off in a way that doesn’t make you feel like you’ve missed a step between the books.
We find our reluctant hero, Cassius Mass, as the hesitant Captain of the Melampus, the ship that he had been flying on during the previous book. His crew is filled with variously colorful characters, including his two lovers, the aggressive First Mate, Clarice, and the ship’s medical officer, Isla. Isla is also a bioroid, which is like a fleshy C-3PO who’s artificial intelligence is so advanced that it’s considered (by some) to be a sentient being. Many of the bioroid’s of this universe are enslaved, as most people see them less like people and more like machines. Isla’s struggle, in this book and the last, reminds me of Pris from the original Blade Runner. She was made for one purpose (in Isla’s case, sex), but rebels against her users to follow her true calling. At this point, that mostly consists of being a medical officer and hanging out with Cassius’s pirate crew.
Most of the cast of Lucifer’s Nebula (and the whole series, really) is incredibly broken or has experienced some sort of trauma. One of my favorite characters, William, had to deal with his entire world being ravaged and destroyed by one of the warring governments. Major Terra (introduced in this book) is a brainwashed soldier from that same world as William. She was kidnapped by her conquerors and brainwashed to be their loyal assassin. Everyone’s broken. The Melampus wouldn’t be remiss in renaming itself “The Isle of Misfit Toys.”
This broken aesthetic doesn’t end with just the crew, as their Captain is the most broken of them all. Inside his head he relives and can never escape the memories of all of the people that he’s killed or led into a battle that’s gotten them killed. One of those ghosts is his dead wife, who seems to have lost much of her humanity in her transition from living flesh to digital ghost. He’s wracked with guilt and anger over who he was and what he’s lost and he desperately wishes to atone for the life he’s lived.
In book one, this led us into the great character arcs that Phipps and Suttkus are famous for. Phipps always manages to introduce you to an utterly broken person and show us their path toward healing. When book 1 ended, we had hope for Cassius.
Then book 2 started, and we were saddled with an uncomfortable reality. While a lot of what was broken in these characters was healed, life doesn’t let you forget about the parts that you haven’t fixed yet. Cassius is still addicted to his alcohol and self-destructive tendencies, and the character journeys in this book help us to see the more human side of addiction, abuse, and violence on both a global and a personal scale.
There’s politics, huge twists, and adventure galore, but the big win with any book that has Phipps’s name on it is the character development (and the action. Lots of great action.).

Review: Meddling Kids, by Edgar Cantero

First published on Shoggoth.net:

Meddling Kids by Edgar Cangtero

Meddling Kids by Edgar Cantero

To be entirely honest, when I first picked up my audio copy of Meddling Kids, by Edgar Cantero, I had no idea that I would be writing a review for Shoggoth.net. As a matter of fact, I only picked it up because I remembered reading somewhere that it’s an adult parody of Scooby Doo. To that point, it absolutely is a 100% homage to Scooby Doo, but it is also an homage to Lovecraft, the mythos, and the other players in the mythos.

The story takes place in 1990, 13 years after the Blyton Summer Detective Club (BSDC), aka the Scooby Doo gang, solved their last case. It starts with their last masked villain getting out on parole and being confronted by the slightly more aggressive version of their Daphne. In this, she goes by the name of Andy and she’s only the Daphne character because all of the others were already taken. In this opening scene, it becomes quickly apparent to Mythos fans that this is going to be a Lovecraftian tale.
From there, Andy collects Carrie (Velma), and Nate (Shaggy), and since we’re 13 years past the BSDC days, Shawn’s (Scooby’s) grandson, Tim. Our Fred is the first obvious casualty. He died a few years before this reunion after a stint as an actor ended in a drug overdose. This is how they introduce that all of their lives aren’t what they had expected and they are sure that the real mystery behind their last case wasn’t a masked villain, but was instead an actual lake monster that the news covered up. Ever since they were scared by that real monster, their lives have been hell. Shaggy is in an asylum in Arkham, Velma got her biology degree but instead waits tables at a bar, and Daphne is a former Air Force soldier who escaped from prison.
Needless to say, their lives are shit and they know that they need to confront whatever it was that they ran away from if they ever want to get their lives back on track.
The book is filled with some great call backs to the original Scooby Doo (there’s a Zoinks River) as well as some references to Nancy Drew, the Hardy Boys, and other childhood mystery stories. As a Mythos tale, Edgar Cantero doesn’t shy from the deep end of the mythos and plays as fully in that as he does the Scooby Doo stuff.
The negatives about this story resolve entirely around the writing style, which switches between standard novel-style and screenplay without any warning. It’s jarring and sometimes confusing, but as an audio tale it was generally alright to follow. It took me about three or four times before I stopped paying attention to it, but you do notice it. The other thing is a lot of the made up words and overly cartoonish descriptors. The made up words are simple to understand the meaning of, but those and the odd descriptions pull you from the story as you stop to rewind in your mind what you just heard/read and decipher it again in the context of the scene.
Outside of that, I thought the book genuinely enjoyable and had a great time reliving the good ole days of Scooby and the gang (and yes, Fred/Pete is in it…in a way). I also loved an interesting twist at the very end involving the newest Scooby of the gang, Tim.
Another thing: every now and then Tim does speak, just like Scooby Doo does, but this is explained away in a very clever way as a part of Nate/Shaggy’s hallucinations as a generally insane guy. It’s really well done and still gives us the Scooby scenes without breaking the reality that the story tries to weave.
4 out of 5 stars. Great book.

Review: The Gods of H.P. Lovecraft

The Gods of H.P. Lovecraft

The Gods of H.P. Lovecraft

(First publisher for Shoggoth.net)

Normally, I have mixed feelings when it comes to anthologies. It’s not that I don’t like them, my problem is quite the opposite. I love them, but once I get to the point in an anthology story where I want it continue divulging the secrets it’s only just now begun to show me is when the story ends and we shift gears into an entirely different story.

I feared that would happen with The Gods of H.P. Lovecraft, but I wanted to give it a try anyway because I’m a huge fan of Donald Tyson’s Necronomicon books and knew that he had written the descriptors of the gods between each of the individual stories.
I was pleasantly surprised to find every story in this anthology pleasant to some degree. I still suffered, especially at the end of tales such as A Dying of the Light by Rachel Caine.
This anthology was well put together, in that it introduced new tales with very beautifully written takes on the different beasts of the Mythos, while still making itself a primer for each of them. It works well as an introduction to the Mythos, or as a database to update your knowledge if you’re fairly involved in the lore, but haven’t had the time to read any of the Clark Ashton Smith stories (for example).
That leads me to my favorite bits. I haven’t read much of Clark Ashton Smith, but I’ve read some and have only really read the Wiki page for Tsathoggua. With that being said, one of my favorite stories from this mix was The Apotheosis of a Rodeo Clown. This story was one of the few that left me begging for it to continue, as it ends with some revelations about the main character that I think (I need to read CAS to be sure) harkens back to the original Tsathoggua tale.
On the other side of that coin, my other favorite stories were Dream a Little Dream of Me (Jonathan Maberry), In the Mad Mountains (Joe R. Lansdale), and Down, Deep Down, Below the Waves (Seanan McGuire). In the case of Dream a Little Dream of Me, we got some great pulp adventure while expanding on the Dream Lands and the Night Gaunt Mythos. In the Mad Mountains seemed to create a new interpretation of the Mountains of Madness, while also creating an absolutely horrific tale. Down, Deep Down, Below the Waves was simply great Innsmouth story telling and kept me on the edge of my seat. I didn’t know who to cheer for and that, in itself, was somewhat horrific.
At the end of this book, I was left craving more, so much more and encourage everyone to pick up a copy. This was a 5/5 star anthology.

A Great Andrew Doran Review!

Special thanks to Adam for this great review!

The Statement of Andrew Doran

Matthew Davenport

Macabre Ink/Crossroad Press

In the vast majority of stories set in the Cthulhu Mythos, or within the broader genre of Lovecraftian or Cosmic Horror, it is a trope that if any character – whether protagonist, antagonist or some part of the supporting cast – comes into contact with a being from the Mythos, or any of the magic that comes from the void between dimensions that said beings inhabit, then there will be an incredibly high price to pay. That price is usually something to do with one’s sanity being slowly (or rapidly) peeled away as the true face of the uncaring cosmos is revealed; a soul being corrupted or completely destroyed; or, at best, some combination of the two that doesn’t happen immediately but is cursed to haunt the character until their shortened and untimely death in the near future. That’s all well and proper, and such an intrinsic part of Lovecraft’s writing, and the genre that has expanded upon his writings, that I would be concerned to see a story in the genre that didn’t include it; it wouldn’t be a Cosmic Horror story, or something inspired by Lovecraft.

However, I must admit that it is nice to see a piece of Mythos fiction that features a protagonist who is fully aware of the myriad dangers of the void, but who is still skilful and disciplined enough to be able to effectively wield those powers without immediately turning insane or being mutated into a fleshy blob that can only scream telepathically. Sometimes it’s a good thing to buck the general trend of a genre, as long as it’s actually done properly – an excellent example is the Midnight Eye series of novels by my favourite author, William Meikle, which features a Glaswegian private detective who becomes embroiled in Lovecraftian shenanigans and can occasionally pull off a success without his mind being irreparably shattered. Another great example is the book that I’ve just finished reading, and is therefore the subject of this review – The Statement of Andrew Doran by Matthew Davenport. The titular Doran is a professor, mythologist and occultist who divides his time between studying various elements of the Lovecraftian deities and the cults who worship them, studying forbidden texts to understand the basis of the evils done by the deities, and fighting anyone foolish enough to try and use them for evil. He’s a fantastic creation, unashamedly in the style of iconic and archetypical adventurers such as Indiana Jones – someone not afraid to use guns, swords and his bare fists at times to fight foes trying to end the world through Lovecraftian means – not to mention a hefty dose of void magic when appropriate.

Set in the early 1940s during the Second World War, with the United States on the brink of joining the war against Germany and Japan, The Statement of Andrew Doran sees the professor pursue the Necronomicon when it is stolen from Miskatonic University by agents of the Nazi regime, fighting his way across Spain, France, Switzerland and Germany in an attempt to stop the nefarious Traum Kult from unleashing the apocalypse on Earth. Fast-paced, action-packed and extremely well-written, by the time I was half-way through the novel I was enjoying myself more than I have in quite some time. Because while we get fantastical, almost cinematic action sequences (a fight against undead Nazi soldiers while fighting through a heavily-armed convoy is a particular favourite of mine), and some of the genre’s obligatory dream-like sequences where entities such as Cthulhu are witnessed, there are also some intriguing ideas ventured by the author.

For example, the Necronomicon is stolen by the Nazis from Mistaktonic University at the beginning of the novel, and there’s an interesting relationship between Doran and the university administration that’s really only hinted at by Davenport. I rather enjoyed the idea that the senior faculty left the dreaded, forbidden tome on open display for students to read, in order to see what they would conjure from the book and they could take advantage of once the unfortunate student was driven insane or killed. Davenport also weaves together a number of genre archetypes, such as creatures, cults and deities, to evoke a world in which the theft of the Necronomicon, and the desperate efforts to get it back, are merely on plot amongst many being undertaken by cultists and other groups and individuals. This is brilliantly illustrated by an early section set onboard a trawler heading from the United States to neutral Spain, with Doran encountering some oddly fish-like men who are guarding a mysterious set of packages heading for the Spanish coastline, and having to disrupt their plot in order to proceed with his journey.

Doran himself is also an interesting and well fleshed-out character. Although he starts off as an obvious homage to Indiana Jones, with a desire to keep forbidden tomes in museums (or preferably all to himself) and an eager readiness to punch foes in the face, the author slowly but surely gives him more depth as the novel moves forward. We get to see how his efforts to get the Necronomicon back affect him, both physically and mentally; and his relationship with a supporting character that appears about a third of the way through the book is incredibly well done, doing an excellent job of subverting the often stale genre trope of ‘suspicious companion who doesn’t seem quite human.’

Cheerfully pilfering the best and most exciting elements of the genre – the Necronomicon, Cthulhu, Herbert West – and deftly bringing them together, Mr Davenport has written a fantastically pulpy, fists-swinging, guns-blazing, magical lightning-hurling action-adventure that readily proves that not all Mythos tales need to be grim, foreboding and often achingly depressing in order to be successful or authentic; Davenport shows that it is possible to use all of the tropes of the genre, and be faithful to them, while still producing an incredibly enjoyable adventure. The Statement of Andrew Doran is a credit to both the author and the publisher – once again the fantastic Crossroad Press – and I cannot recommend this heartily enough; I greatly look forward to reading the sequel and any other books that come in the series.

via The Statement of Andrew Doran – Matthew Davenport – Review