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Review: The Lovecraft Squad: All Hallows Horror by John Llewellyn Probert January 2, 2017

Posted by sjroby in Book reviews, Lovecraft.
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cover102520-mediumAnother Netgalley free read in exchange for a review. With opinions and spoilers.

Lovecraft Squad? Misleading advertising, it seems to me. This is supposed to be the first of a series of books inspired by the works of HP Lovecraft. You could probably delete no more than a hundred words and no one reading it then would make a connection to Lovecraft.

After some strange experiences, including experiencing visions of swarms of the undead and encountering magically powerful pages of a lost Chaucer manuscript, a group of people find themselves investigating an allegedly haunted church. Strange and evil things happen, and before you know it, three of the surviving characters find themselves undertaking a long and arduous journey through Dante’s Inferno, at the end of which lies the Anarch, a giant insectoid servant of Hell. There are a few passing references to Lovecraftian story elements that don’t really work here. They feel more like they were grafted on at the last minute. There’s none of Lovecraft’s cosmic horror; this is coming out of a much more generically Judeo-Christian worldview than Lovecraft ever had.

So, looking at it as a horror novel rather than a Lovecraftian one, how does it work? Well, there are spooky and suspenseful moments, especially earlier on, but once the long journey through Hell begins, it’s just one thing after another with no real suspense. Enter an area of hell that’s based on one of Dante’s nine circles of Hell, struggle to find the way through to the next circle, repeat. All that to find out what’s actually going on. A protagonist actually asks one of the antagonists, isn’t this an overly complicated way to get what you want? Well, no one said this kind of thing was easy, is the response.

There’s an afterword that puts the book into a slightly different context: it’s sort of a prequel to some zombie apocalypse stories I’ve never heard of. Still not terribly Lovecraftian.

Overall, a bit of a slog, with some good moments but not much actual plot. At a time when so many writers are taking Lovecraft seriously and doing interesting things with his life and work, using his name for this series seems like marketing more than anything else.

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