Editor: Salomè Jones
Publisher: Ghostwoods Books
Number of Pages: 272
Format: Print (Paperback)
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars aligned
At the time of his death in 1937, American horror writer H.P. Lovecraft was virtually unknown. The power of his stories was too great to contain, however. As the decades slipped by, his dark visions laid down roots in the collective imagination of mankind, and they grew strong. Now Cthulhu is a name known to many and, deep under the seas, Lovecraft’s greatest creation becomes restless…
This volume brings together seventeen masterful tales of cosmic horror inspired by Lovecraft’s work. In his fiction, humanity is a tiny, accidental drop of light and life in the endless darkness of an uncaring universe – a darkness populated by vast, utterly alien horrors. Our continued survival relies upon our utter obscurity, something that every fresh scientific wonder threatens to shatter.
The dazzling stories in Cthulhu Lives! show the disastrous folly of our arrogance. We think ourselves the first masters of Earth, and the greatest, and we are very badly mistaken on both counts. Inside these covers, you’ll find a lovingly-curated collection of terrors and nightmares, of catastrophic encounters to wither the body and blight the soul. We humans are inquisitive beings, and there are far worse rewards for curiosity than mere death.
The truth is indeed out there – and it hungers.
Cthulhu Lives! Or so I have been told, And I believe that is true…to some extent. In fact, in the minds of many of H.P. Lovecraft’s contemporaries, devotees, or worshipers, all his creations are real. Whether taken literally and practicing such worship or devotion with a cult, or simply creating a space in your mind whilst reading Lovecraftian fiction, creations such as Cthulhu, Nyarlathotep or Yog-Sothoth have made their place in our world for better or worse. Yet it is the high priest to The Old Ones himself, Cthulhu, who is most recognizable both in form and in unpronounceable name. Whether it be a symbol of a tentacle faced god, or the megalithic shadow beneath the waves that speaks to you in your dreams, this star spawn has solidified its place amongst most of todays weird/cosmic horror fiction. Cthulhu’s presence within these tales is what connects, not only the stories that lay within the Cthulhu Mythos, but also the authors and readers of said stories under the ever growing membranous Lovecraftian banner. These and more were the thoughts I bore as I dipped my mind into Ghostwoods Books newest anthology of Lovecraftian fiction.
17 very unique tales are what make up this collection. Some better than others, and others way better than some, the satisfying content this book has to offer is evenly distributed throughout. None of the tales are too long, the longest being 18 or so pages, allowing for easy digestible reads.
- Universal Constants by Piers Beckley
- 1884 by Michael Grey
- Elmwood by Tim Dedopulos
- Hobstone by G.K. Lomax *
- On the Banks of the River Jordan by John Reppion *
- Dark Watters by Adam Vidler
- Ink by Iain Lowson
- Demon in Glass by E. Dane Anderson
- Scales from Balor’s Eye by Helmer Gorman
- Of the Faceless Crowd by Gabor Csigás
- Scritch, Scratch by Lynne Hardy *
- Icke by Greg Stolze *
- Coding Time by Marc Reichardt
- The Thing in the Printer by Peter Tupper
- The Old Ones by Jeremy Clymer
- Visiting Rights by Joff Brown
- The Highland Air by Gethin A. Lynes
There are a few authors in this collection, one of them G.K. Lomax, who are emerging authors into both the writing scene and the Lovecraftian scene. Upon my initial inspection of the cast of writers I was expected to read, I was a little weary of the unfamiliar names. However, I was incorrect in my judgment of quality these stories possessed. Not being able to choose only three favorites, I settled on four that I believe were the most memorable and entertaining. Hobstone by G.K. Lomax, On the Banks of the River Jordan by John Reppion, Scritch, Scratch by Lynne Hardy and Icke by Greg Stolze. All four of these tales possessed an essence that I believe to be truly Lovecraftian. It was the vague suggestion at a grander menace, or entity with out necessarily giving it a name or advertently connecting it to the Cthulhu Mythos. It was stories like these that convinced me that this book should have been titled Lovecraft Lives! Simply because of the true theme of cosmic horror and fear of the unknown that Mr. Lovecraft is so aptly known for expanding if not creating.
Unfortunately though, there were just one to many stories that left me with nothing. Either ending so abruptly that it borderline made the story incomplete, or just the shear lack of engaging writing to keep me hooked through out the story. These stories made reading feel like work. All in all it was a pleasant and enjoyable book, wrapping up with a sincere afterword from resident H.P.L. scholar, S.T. Joshi. I would recommend this book to those who are looking for some new ideas and easy reads revolving around the Cthulhu Mythos. I hope to see some of these authors again, and also hope to see more publications from Ghostwoods Books that resemble this style and format.
Weirdlings who’ve enjoyed Cthulhu Lives!: An Eldritch Tribute to H.P. Lovecraft, or Salomè Jones’s stuff, have also checked out:
If you have checked out Cthulhu Lives!: An Eldritch Tribute to H.P. Lovecraft, let me know what you think by leaving a comment. And if you like all the tasty bits we gibber about here, become a follower or submit to receive email updates with every new post! Check us out on Twitter @UnspkbleGibberr and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/UnspeakableGibberer.
Author: Robin Spriggs
Publisher: Anomalous Books
Number of Pages: 208
Format: Print (Paperback)
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars aligned
Metafiction or monograph, biography or balderdash, demonic revelation or divine obfuscation, The Untold Tales of Ozman Droom is at times deeply disturbing, at others weirdly sublime, yet ever enigmatic and profoundly haunting throughout-an ouroboric shadow play of strange wonder, mad prophecy, and inescapable dread.
It’s not often I am asked to review a book that I actually end up liking, yet throughout Spriggs’s latest anthology, The Untold Tales of Ozman Droom, I became entranced by the way that each sentence is carefully crafted to carry the reader along these incredibly dark journeys that have been laid bare for all to attempt to understand. Each passage in this book is capable of standing alone as a piece of solitary fiction, yet when confined between covers and anthologized as it is, The Untold Tales of Ozman Droom becomes an eldritch tome of prose and sinister plots that none can easily forget. Like horrible things you can’t unsee, these tales are fashioned to implant themselves in your mind until insanity takes hold and you lose yourself in a world, eternally searching for a man with the last name of Droom.
The only refuge from such a fate can be salvaged from the first passage in the book in which the author describes that the stories that lay ahead are told to be absolutely true, but can at times smell of absolute bull-shit. As it should.
All fun aside, because it’s all there is to be had while reading this book, you are meant as a reader to buy into this world that has been created by Spriggs. By not doing so, one would simply jeer at these tales as things of nonsense and loose the rhythm that is so elegantly constructed to impact the reader from story to story. And although I do find the annotations to be a little distracting, they are fun tidbits to read after finishing each tale while taking on the entertaining task of deciphering truth from fiction. I often found myself needing to reread each story, not out of misunderstanding, but because each ending left me with many questions. Yet after a second reading, and possibly answering said questions, I would be cursed with more perplexity than the first go around. But that is a great tool in weird fiction, to deliver more questions than answers. It is what engages the reader’s imagination and hooks them into the story while they hope that something will be explained.
Usually with an anthology the reader isn’t obligated, or at least shouldn’t feel so, to read the book cover to cover. It is the beauty and curse of the anthology. The reader has freedom to pick it up and put it down, story by story instead of chapter to chapter until it’s done and over. However, in this case, the reader would be missing out on the bigger picture that is painted when most of these pages are read in succession. This is apparent when understanding the themes and motifs amid the book. For instance, it would seem that Mr. Spriggs has a fetish for the number 9. This begins with one of the first stories, The Sigil, in which the character (either created by Droom, or Droom himself) is in attempt to summon a nonagonal sigil, nonagonal being a nine sided shape. There’s the story of The House of Nine, and mentions of nine rooms, and a pantheon of nine in other tales as well.
I also found myself wondering if there was a sentimental value behind the authors use or fascination with the letter I and the word “eye.” Like the ongoing theme of nine, in many stories the reader will notice close attention characters eyes, or the significance to the letter I. I was lost on this motif at times, but enjoyed the incorporation of it in a few of the stories.
I had fun reading this book. Whereas usually these types of review are more work than leisure, I rather enjoyed having to pick this one up and digesting all the little goodies that lay within. The only momentary dislike I felt was in the use or reuse of some of these stories from his previous work, including Diary of a Gentleman Diabolist. I first became aware of Robin Spriggs, while reading issue#22 of the Lovecraft eZine. The prose poem, The Dance, had something in it that I had forgotten existed until reading The Untold Tales of Ozman Droom. I am hoping that the next publication from Robin Spriggs has some fresh material that will further enlighten and grow the hordes of acolytes he has surely developed through his craft.
Well done, sir.
If you have checked out The Untold Tales of Ozman Droom, let me know what you think by leaving a comment. And if you like all the tasty bits we gibber about here, become a follower or submit to receive email updates with every new post! Check us out on Twitter @UnspkbleGibberr and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/UnspeakableGibberer.