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Tag Archive: Cthulhu


Review by C.J. Bunce

So many genre novels are quick reads, full of action and modern surprises.  Once in a while you stumble upon the slow read–the book that is so smartly written, so exciting and enjoyable you never want it to end, and you force yourself to take it slow and enjoy the author’s use of language.  With his latest book I’ve now added James Lovegrove to my shortlist of authors I will make sure to read as soon as his next work is released.  His new novel is Sherlock Holmes and the Sussex Sea-Devils, book three of his trilogy, The Cthulhu Casebooks.  In short, this work has it all–tie-ins, a mash-up, genre-bending, and immersive storytelling in a suspense-filled mystery adventure.  It’s a big feat because the very subject matter and project has much to overcome.  First, it is the third book in a series, not your usual place as a reader to begin.  As it is a new release, I delved in anyway, and discovered Lovegrove crafted a complete end-to-end story requiring no prior knowledge of the first two books in the series.  Second, it’s a tie-in and a mash-up of the most well-known historical characters in all of fiction, Arthur Conan Doyle‘s Sherlock Holmes and Dr. John Watson twisted together with the macabre, dark world of H.P. Lovecraft.

I’ve reviewed several Watson and Holmes stories written in the past decade and the challenge is always the same–getting two voices just right, voices that are so familiar after reading original Doyle writings, and watching countless modern sequels and a host of television series and movie versions.  One misstep and it’s easy to pull a reader out of the narrative, yet Lovegrove doesn’t skip a beat in this regard.  Whether you’re drawn to the TV series with Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman, the classic Basil Rathbone film version, modern retellings, or just Doyle’s own marvelous words, you will feel this book is a believable sequel to the original stories and the voices are spot-on.  Another barrier for Lovegrove to overcome is getting right that rich world of H.P. Lovecraft, whose works and words drip with a uniquely strange brilliance and eerie beauty.  Again, Lovegrove fully captures the spirit of his creations and seaside environments, too, as if he’d conjured Lovecraft for this story.  This strange mash-up of the logical, rational Holmes and Watson and the dark and fantastical Lovecraft probably shouldn’t work so well.  These are opposites, right?  But Lovegrove fuses them into one, evoking the 19th century wonder of H.G. Wells and Jules Verne science fiction and fantasy along the way.  Not merely a fun romp for fans of either world, Sherlock Holmes and the Sussex Sea-Devils has all the realism and research of a scholarly work, sinking us into the world of England, the nautical life of coastal peoples at the turn of the 20th century.

The story begins a few years after the retirement of Holmes and Watson.  In Doyle’s story “His Last Bow” we learned the character retired to a farm at Sussex Downs taking on beekeeping as a pastime.  Only two original stories take place during Holmes’ retirement.  This is where Lovegrove’s Watson catches up with Holmes: The date is 1910 and as England and the world moves toward war, Holmes and Watson learn the leaders of the famed Diogenes Club are all dead, found under strange circumstances.  When three young women go missing in a nearby town, the detective duo takes on sleuthing out their disappearance as their final case, where they encounter local lore that speaks of monsters from the deep and a foretold legend of the return of a phantom from long ago.  Locals believe that is why the women are missing, and Holmes knows it must all be connected.  How much is real, how much is fantasy?  Is it possible Holmes could discover both worlds might co-exist?  Can Holmes ever escape the specter of his lifelong nemesis Moriarty?  And what of his brother Mycroft?

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Narragansett Brewing Company has a new Lovecraft beer available this summer, complete with an excellently creepy and fantasy-rich marketing campaign.  The latest in Narragansett’s series of Lovecraft offerings features a tale of a classic copper-helmeted deep-sea diver, and the presentation is the kind of design that beer can collectors will want to get their hands on.  Born in 1890, the same year that Narragansett Beer was founded, H.P. Lovecraft spent the majority of his life in Providence, Rhode Island, as a struggling author, only achieving literary fame posthumously.  Commonly referred to as the “Father of Modern Horror,” he influenced authors and artists from Stephen King to Metallica to Ridley Scott.  H.P. Lovecraft is probably best known for creating Cthulhu, a fictional deity described as being part man, part dragon and part octopus.  It is this creature that inspired the Cthulhu Mythos, a cultural lore and shared fictional universe of Lovecraft successors.

Past Lovecraft beers in the series have featured homages to Lovecraft’s The Shadow Over Innsmouth, Herbert West–Reanimator, and The White Ship Now ushering in the Halloween season, inspired by Lovecraft’s incredible short story The Temple, Narragansett’s latest includes a great video to accompany the release (check it out below, and you can read Lovecraft’s original stories online at the links in the above titles).

Now that autumn has arrived it’s also time for Oktoberfests, and Renaissance Faire season is in full swing.  Narragansett has that covered as well, with a richly drawn medieval theme in its new Fest Marzen Lager.  Featuring an image of the mythical King Gambrinus based on an 1898 illustration, the orange can echoes the coming falling leaves and contains the company’s Bavarian style beer offered in the 1960s and 1970s.  The Fest product was the most requested beer by fans of the company in a recent poll, and this is the first time the company is releasing it to market in three years.  To celebrate the “Return of the King,” ‘Gansett is launching release parties and even a half marathon with pumpkin pie at the finish line.

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