RogerBW's Blog

Cthulhusattva, Scott R. Jones 22 August 2018

2016 fantasy/horror anthology, Lovecraftian stories that explore the mythos in a positive way – celebrating rather than backing away from the implications of minds greater than human.

Jones is also the author of When the Stars are Right: Towards An Authentic R'lyehian Spirituality, so you can be fairly sure you'll be going pretty deep here. These are stories of gods, and things beyond human capacity, and a sense of wonder.

  • The Pearl in the Shadows (Bryan Thao Worra) is poetry; not terrible but it doesn't do much for me.

  • We Three Kings (Don Raymond) revisits the Adoration of the Magi, with a lot more tentacles.

  • Messages (John Linwood Grant) has a narrator whose job is to gather all the books (and recordings, and everything else), for a purpose which… makes a strange kind of sense.

  • Mother's Nature (Stefanie Elrick) never quite establishes its ground rules; there's plenty of atmosphere but no real progression or plot.

  • Mr Johnson and the Old Ones (Jamie Mason) has Robert Johnson meeting Lovecraft… both of them conjure men. It relies perhaps too much on that conceit, but works reasonably well all the same.

  • At the Left Hand of Nothing (Jayaprakash Satyamurthy) is a short monologue, trying to explain (like many of the pieces here) why madness is not madness but enlightenment.

  • That Most Foreign of Veils (Luke R. J. Maynard) has travel to the far north of Canada, and the process of study outside formal environments. It's very effective, but hard to describe without spoiling details.

  • Emperor Eternal (Konstantine Paradias) combines gratuitous gore with a drearily conventional "be careful what you wish for" story.

  • Antinomia (Erica Ruppert) visits the end of the world, but doesn't talk enough about that, instead focusing on its people – who have nothing to say.

  • Feeding the Abyss (Rhoads Brazos) is an excellent practical story of sacrifice.

  • Keys in Stranger Deserts (Vrai Kaiser) has someone thrown out of Miskatonic University – a gratuitous connection, really – and travelling in search of things barely seen. More atmosphere than story, a common problem here.

  • ἱερὸς γάμος (Hieros Gamos) (Gord Sellar) considers the Eleusinian Mysteries, the Holy Marriage, and just how it might work in practice.

  • The Litany of Earth (Ruthanna Emrys) is the story that brought me to this anthology: I was looking for places where it had been published, and was intrigued by the title. But I've already mentioned it in my review of Winter Tide.

  • The Wicked Shall Come Upon Him (Kristi DeMeester) has a bunch of unsympathetic characters at the end of the world. Ooh, they're gay, that makes it all more interesting.

  • After Randolph Carter (Noah Wareness) is another monologue, with beautiful imagery.

There's very little here that takes a conventional story form, but quite a bit of it is distinctly enjoyable even so. It's pleasing to see material that engages with the core ideas rather than simply saying "oh noes I have FURRIN BLUD panic panic".

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See also:
Winter Tide, Ruthanna Emrys

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