RogerBW's Blog

Carter & Lovecraft, Jonathan L. Howard 19 May 2020

2015 Lovecraftian horror. Dan Carter was a cop in New York, until his partner shot himself while they were arresting a child kidnapper. Now he's working as a private investigator, but it suddenly turns out that a complete stranger has left him a bookshop in his will…

The bookshop is in Providence, and it's operated by Emily Lovecraft, last known descendant of Howard. But it turns out that Howard was not just a writer…

Well, yes, one can go along with this up to a point, though knowing something of Lovecraft as a person makes this all seem much less plausible. On the other hand, there's a magician to fight. And that magician, William Colt, is surprisingly well-painted: he's suddenly been handed tremendous power but he's still basically a small person with small dreams.

What works less well is the repeated emphasis that all this has been set up: both Carter's inheritance and Colt's power have been bestowed on them by the same entity, for reasons not made particularly clear, and while they think they're doing sensible things it's all going as that other entity has planned. That removes agency from the protagonists and tension from the narrative.

On the other hand there are some remarkably good people here, not always highly detailed but complex and interesting. And the stakes get raised to a level that most authors would back away from.

Not by any means perfect; there are various infelicities of style, and sometimes it feels as though Lovecraftian references are being jammed in a bit too gratuitously. But like Red Equinox this book takes Yog-Sothothery as a starting point to build its own mythology rather than trying to make everything consistent with Lovecraft's writings (which, since they aren't themselves consistent with each other, is a foolish errand at best).

Recommended by vatine.

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See also:
Red Equinox, Douglas Wynne

Series: Carter & Lovecraft | Next in series: After the End of the World

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