Review: Cthulhu’s Minions & The Innsmouth Look

Cthulhu's Minions (The Arkham Detective Book 1) by [Craft, Byron]

Cthulhu’s Minions, by Byron Craft

The Innsmouth Look (The Arkham Detective Book 2) by [Craft, Byron]

The Innsmouth Look, by Byron Craft

This review is for two books, as I read them back to back, got swamped with packing up a house, and have finally found time to put together a proper review.
The Arkham Detective series follows a no-name pulp detective in the city of Arkham, Massachusetts. While most of the residents have heard rumors and stories regarding all of Lovecraft’s beasties doing their dirty work in the town, most of them don’t believe them, and neither does our protagonist until a gory encounter and a witness who claims some rather horrendous things.
Cthulhu’s Minions is a great primer to the world of the Arkham Detective in that it’s a great origin story for the guy who makes it his job to hunt down the weird stuff while also being a short read to get you psyched about the bigger stories in the series.
The action doesn’t stop with Minions, though, and my intrigue kept me going straight from the last page of Cthulhu’s Minions and directly into the sequel, The Innsmouth Look.
Depending on the day, my favorite story from the Lovecraft Mythos is Shadow Over Innsmouth. The dark tale of a city cursed by it’s fortune in more ways than one makes for a great setting for some pulpy adventure (as myself and other authors have noted). Unlike those other authors, and even myself, the adventure here is nonstop pulpy goodness that only Byron Craft could have put together. On the trail of a murderer and kidnapper from that doomed city, the Arkham Detective takes grit to a new level as he interrogates the town and puts his best detective shoe forward, stumbling upon Government spies, trapped locals, and, of course, a dark ritual that the town wants to happen while the rest of the world obviously doesn’t.
Craft knows his Mythos and weaves that into a series of books that reads like a great Lovecraftian story, but with more adventure and less fainting. I give both of these books 5 out of 5 stars for just being great and fun reads.
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Review: Master of Chaos by David Hambling

Masters of Chaos by David Hambling is the fourth book in the Harry Stubbs series and it goes without saying that I am a huge fan of the series.

David’s Mr. Stubbs is a man of simple means, striving to better understand the world. This is more than the world as normal men and women know it, although he is constantly reading and taking correspondence courses to increase that knowledge, but also the darker and more sinister works first described by H. P. Lovecraft. To that point, Harry had found himself in the “employ” of an American named Ms. DeVere. She had recruited Harry to investigate the of happenings of Norwood. Harry is only barely qualified for this role through his past run-ins with Lovecraft’s mythos and his history as a former successful boxer.

Master of Chaos did something I didn’t expect a Stubbs novel to do, although I should have, and thrust our hero into an undercover role as an orderly at an asylum. While I hadn’t expected it, it fit well with the evolution of Harry’s investigations and made for some amazing scenes and great literary art as the reader who, four books in and well versed in Stubbs’ adventures, questions along with our hero whether or not he’s lost his mind.

My favorite thing about this novel and each of the Stubbs’ adventures, is how Hambling introduces entirely new elements of the mythos into Harry’s life and makes it seem like part of the everyday world we live in. It makes me wonder if some day Harry will lose all sense of reason as anything can be explained away by the police or the doctors…

My favorite part of this delightful tale was easily the part regarding the time Harry received in the first book. When you read it, you will know what I’m referencing. It’s difficult to say this was my favorite part, because I had so many and always enjoy a good yarn of my favorite boxer, but I’m a simple man.

5/5 stars for the Norwood Titan!

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

A Great Broken Nights: Strange Worlds Review!

Charles over at Booknest.eu had some really awesome things to say about the newest installment of Broken Nights, Broken Nights: Strange Worlds!

 

4/5

Superhero fiction is a niche genre in a niche genre. Superheroes thrive in comic books, video games, and movies but aren’t so very popular in prose fiction. Perhaps because it’s such a visual medium but I think it’s more there’s just never been an iconic example of the genre. Despite this, there’s some truly great examples of superhero fiction which I’ve been proud to review. Things like Wearing the CapeOrigins of a D-List SupervillainSoon I Will Be Invincible, and Villains Rule.

Broken Nights is one of those series. Is it Citizen Kane? No, but it’s a great book which has created its own superhero universe and is slowly building it up to be something huge. In the previous book, we had Jason Night try to become Darden Valley’s answer to Batman only to accidentally stumble onto a plan to take over the world. Succeeding at extreme cost, he’s only now just recovered six months later–only to find out he’s unwittingly inspired an endless stream of superpowered copycats.

 

 

You can read the rest of his review over at Booknest by going here: http://booknest.eu/reviews/charles/1112-brokennightsstrangeworlds 

Thanks for the Great Review, Charles!

The Friday 13 with David Hambling

A great interview with writer David Hambling!

Jesse Teller

david2

David Hambling is an author and science/technology journalist based in South London. He writes for New Scientist magazine, The Economist, WIRED, Popular Mechanics, The Guardian newspaper and others. 2018 will see the release of “Master of Chaos”, fourth in the Harry Stubbs series of Mythos adventures, as well as the nonfiction “We: Robot – The robots that are changing the world” …both of them are pretty scary.

InThe Elder Ice, Harry, a former heavyweight boxer and sometime debt collector now working for a legal firm, is on the trail of a valuable legacy left by Ernest Shackleton (a real-life polar explorer from Norwood). Shackleton died in 1922 leaving huge debts, and also hints of a valuable find; Harry is looking for the reality behind those hints.

The Elder Ice is a novella, and a taster for the rest of the series. It is succeeded by Broken Meats, Alien…

View original post 1,902 more words

A Decade Later…

Happy New Year!

I graduated college on December 22, 2007. On December 31, 2007, I uprooted my entire life in New York and was putting a key into my new apartment in Marion, Iowa by January 1st, 2008.

To commemorate my decade anniversary as an Iowan, I dug up old Facebook posts.

A lot has happened since these old posts. A lot. As I enter into 2018, I can’t help but be excited for what life will throw at me in the next decade. I’m happier now than I have been in my entire life and am married to the most wonderful person I have ever met. Iowa has brought me happiness this last 10 years. I’m so excited for it to continue.

Musings on CW Superhero Shows

So, I love the CW Superhero shows. A lot. For this reason, I wanted to review/comment on them as they come out. I’m a few episodes behind, so this is my catch up post. In the future, I’m going to write each segment after I’ve seen the episode so that it’s fresh in my mind, but I’ll post them after Arrow airs. Expect Spoilers!
Second disclaimer: I love these shows. They can’t do anything wrong, so my reviews are going to be heavily biased. They will be less reviews and more musings about each episode.
Supergirl, 3×01
Kick off the season with Smallville’s Lois Lane kicking down doors as the new version of Kara’s mother. That’s pretty badass. I liked the way they had her dealing with Mon-El’s leaving, but I feel like a lot of what they dealt with (Alien vs. Human) has kind of already been done. I mean, are they really going to show try to convince us that Kara doesn’t care about Alex and Maggie’s marriage stuff? I’m happy she came around by the end.
Random thoughts:
  • Loved the lifting the Sub thing she did. Really liked Lena Luthor this episode.
  • They did a really good job getting me interested in the Rubie stuff. I really want to know what’s going on there. I know a little bit from online, but I don’t know how they plan on getting there, and that has me excited.
  • Lena Luthor buying CatCo came across as very Michael Rosenbaum in Smallville. Loveable Lex could always be counted on to solve everyone’s problems by spending a shit ton of money. “You want the Talon, here, I’ll help you buy it.” “Hit Clark with my car? I’ll buy him a truck.” They’ve decided to follow Smallville’s narrative a little bit here, and I think that might be a good thing when you’re dealing with a new character that Kara is supposed to end up hating (I assume).
3×02
This episode should have been the first episode. I liked the character development that we got with Kara and her fears of the pod and then the awesome explanation for why she’s still upset. Also, Alex and Maggie never had the kids talk. Uh Oh.
Random thoughts:
  • I didn’t like Lena in this episode so much.
  • I don’t get her animosity with Jimmy Olsen at all.
  • Oh, and the ending with J’onn and M’gann was a good ending. Loved that.
The Flash, 4×01
I loved this episode. It was, obviously, a perfect mirror of the original first episode of the Flash. I wasn’t a fan of how Wally and Vibe are supposedly not as solid as Barry at being superheroes. I get it as a plot device, but Wally is as fast as Barry ever was, and Cisco is pretty kickass. Whatever, it was a great episode. Another flaw I saw, that doesn’t get dealt with properly until the second episode in my opinon, was Iris not wanting Barry back. It made sense once episode 2 aired. Loved how they dealt with bringing Barry’s mind back. Also, how friggen kickass is it that they couldn’t stop Barry from getting out of the cell? On another note, the is she, isn’t she with Caitlyn is getting old. Just make a decision and let us know if she’s an ice queen or not.
Random thoughts:
  • This house is bitchin’. That was great.
  • I also really missed Harrison Wells in this episode. Which version of him? All of them, really.
  • The Thinker was a little cartoony, but it was ok.
  • This is my favorite of the superhero shows. Very happy this is back.
  • I also liked that we’re back to comic book Barry who is mentally stable after the death of his family. It’s fun again.
4×02
Everything about this episode was perfect. I loved the crossover stuff with the mention of Oliver. This episode was good fun. Kilg%re was a great badguy and we got to see Forensic Barry and Tech Consultant Cisco again. Captain Singh was back, too, which is always a plus. I liked having Caitlyn back, and loved the Cisco/Gypsy stuff that’s building up to the introduction of her father, Breacher.
Random thoughts:
This was a good way to explain the new team dynamic.
I liked the therapy scenes a lot.
This was the first episode where I started wondering what happened to Iris’ writing career…
Did anyone else notice that they started repairing the Star Labs burn marks on the outside? It’s only been four years, way to get on that guys…
Legends of Tomorrow, 3×01
Wow, they really shoehorned this plot together… I feel like they wanted season 2’s finale to lead to a very specific plot of repairing the timeline and then decided that was a lot of work and screw it, let’s just do this completely other thing that undoes all that we set up with that huge cliffhanger at the end of season 2. This episode made me very unhappy with Rip, too. I am now deciding that this Rip is still the altered one from Season 2. Geeze, it’s obvious that Victor Garber is on his way out. Wonder how they’ll make Firestorm work… How the hell are they going to justify to me, their audience that loves them no matter what, that Rip, who basically wants to fuck Gideon, turned Gideon off for 5 years?
Things that I loved:
  • Mick has a lot of STD’s
  • Amaya’s story tying into the rest of the universe.
  • Using the old missions as training scenarios.
  • I went to IMDB and started reading quotes, and quickly realized that I loved this episode. I take back everything.
  • “Sometimes we screw things up for the better.”
  • Love everything Mick. He’s always so great. Really want to see more of him and “Haircut.” They’re great together.
  • While I feel like Sara would have gone off and joined back up with Oliver and company instead of working in Housewares ala Ash J. Williams, I liked it anyway.
3×02
This episode was more fun than the season’s first episode. We got to see some of my favorite things in the form of Ray building tech and Nick bro-ing it up. This episode was worth it for the big showdown between Sara and Agent Sharpe. Also, Gary added some great comedic powers to the episode.
Random thoughts:
  • Amaya is a literal beast.
  • Shrink rays show that Ray is still the awesome tech monster he is and was totally wasted on that Tinder knockoff.
  • Victor Garber as a clown is great!
  • Even better was Victor Garber hating on the Titanic. Classic, love it.
  • Damn…Billy Zane got old…and is still weird.
Arrow, 6×01
This episode really glossed over what would have probably been a great episode in everyone leaving or surviving the island. The plot points they made me care about involved whatever’s going on with John, Felicity’s weird standoff style interest in Oliver’s kid, and Quinton’s alcoholism and problems with his doppeldaughter. I feel like we’re missing a big opportunity to deal with Doppeldaughter’s own version of alcoholism. Our Laurel dealt with it, and I can’t imagine that this Laurel, without the same support structure, doesn’t still deal with it. The only thing I wasn’t alright with this episode was Oliver’s kid. Everything dealing with that seemed weird. Also, does the nanny know Oliver is the Green Arrow? Also, that sucks about Speedy.
Random Thoughts:
  • Liked Wild Dog’s new outfit.
  • Liked Mr. Terrific’s T-Spheres getting more action.
  • Liked Green Arrow relying on his team to stop the missiles.
  • The arrows all seemed to have weird flights in this episode. Go through and watch, starting with the first bad guy they catch who launches those missiles. I’ve shot bow, a lot, arrows don’t fly like that… Whatever. Still fun.
  • Oh, hey, everybody…Look…Green Arrow and Oliver…same person…again…
6×02
Diggle, what are you doing? Seriously, we’re six years in and you should know better than to keep secrets. Felicity’s voice seemed really off this episode, I think she was either sick or hungover. I think this episode is implying that KGBeast is gonna keep coming back, and I liked that. He’s a believable villain with a backstory that we don’t have to guess about. I don’t like that ARGUS hasn’t called off the FBI yet. Although, I like the idea of Arrow fighting to keep his identity secret.
Random thoughts:
  • Liked the name drop. Very awesome. When I first heard about it, I thought we might see Lois Lane in the crowd or something, but I’m ok with this name drop instead.
  • Really didn’t like the passing of the torch at the end. I’m sure it’s only part-time, but that makes me like it less.