Disclaimer: I was contacted and received an advance review copy of the book from Stone Skin Press.
I’ll admit, I was a bit hesitant going into this book. I wasn’t completely sure what I’d find inside, but I was curious as 7 out of 18 authors were women, and I was told they had tried to make it an even 50-50 ratio. But Lovecraft had some pretty frightening views if you didn’t match up with his idea of a pure world. And it was with that in mind I began to delve into the book.
Let me say they started out strong. The introduction doesn’t shy away from his views and points to some of those he wrote down, yet admits this doesn’t take away from his talent as a writer, and in fact seemed to inform it. Admittedly, always giving a sense of Other being evil, and it’s pretty obvious what Other was from what we know of his views. But more importantly, this book isn’t people simply mimicking his story style, instead choosing quotes from the essay Supernatural Horror in Literature and then writing a story around the quote they found so meaningful. These letters are loving, but not always towards Lovecraft. More towards horror and the written word. In fact, the stories can be downright scathing towards him, refuting some of his ideas with pointshe either could not see or ignored.
The stories don’t always take the form of a story either, as in the case of an essay on the nature of certain kinds of ads and how they seem to incorporate much of the studies of a cult into them. One of the definite common themes to the book we often see repeated is one of family, but not in the manner we’d see Lovecraft handling it. Corruption is not a thing in the blood, but something we choose. Often because it’s just easier. One particular story, The Horror at the Castle of the Cumberland, makes this obvious with a gut punch to your emotions.
Overall, I’m finding it difficult to talk about the book not because I have so little to say, but because I have so much. I thought I’d read this book in a couple of days and have this post out by last week, but I found myself reading and then rereading the text. It’s a book that made me THINK.
While I’m not sure about some of the themes in the stories – there seem to be more than a few female monsters – we see real strength and heroism. We see women who are respected. All in all, if you asked me should you buy the book, I say yes. Even if you don’t love one of the stories, I believe most will make you think while yet being very entertaining. With that in mind, don’t read this before bed, your sleep schedule will thank you.
This title will be available on December 1st, and is in pre-order from Stone Skin Press which is a fiction imprint of Pelgrane Press, who I will be doing a group of interviews with people there on the role inclusiveness plays in said company. Pelgrane Press is primarily a publisher of role-playing games like 13th Age, the Gumshoe games (such as Timewatch, Night’s Black Agents, and Esoterrorists), as well as Hillfolk. I’ll admit, I’m fond of many of these games, which has given me some insight into changes of books due to playtesting pre-release versions. As such, I’ll also be reviewing 13th Age, 13 True Ways, the 13th Age Bestiary, The Book of Loot, as well as Night’s Black Agents with the supplement Double Tap, and Timewatch.