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review 2018-01-16 22:45
Family Legacies
Carter & Lovecraft - Jonathan L. Howard

The Early 20th Century writer HP Lovecraft has spawned a whole sub-genre of horror dedicated to his ideas, often called the Cthulhu Mythos or Lovecraftian horror. Not surprising that nearly 100 years later, people are still re-imagining his work and characters. "Carter and Lovecraft" is a different spin on Lovecraft. What if Lovecraft, frankly a huge bigot and racist, had descendants of color and one of them ran a bookshop? What if one of his recurring characters, Randolph Carter, actually existed, and his descendant was a police officer? And they team up in a story? Well, that's this book. Daniel Carter is a detective who has lived through the trauma of his partner killing himself in front of him after they rescue a kid from a serial killer. His last words referring to "the twist". Carter resigns from the police and becomes a private detective. Shortly thereafter, he inherits a bookstore from a person he never knew in Providence, Rhode Island. When he goes down there, he meets Mina Lovecraft, an African American woman who runs the bookstore for her uncle, who disappeared months ago and has been heard from since. Around the same time, Carter is hired on a case that leads to some very strange murders committed by a rogue mathematician. Could all these things be related? Yes. So this is a very strange book. It's relatively short, but there's a lot here to chew on. Howard knows his Lovecraft. This book is full of nuggets and easter eggs for Lovecraftian enthusiasts. I was encouraged to look up some elements of the story, and it gets deep into the Mythos. I think he captured the aspect of Lovecraft in that you feel like you have no idea about what's going on and you probably won't find out. He also touches on the visceral horror that is integral to Lovecraft. In some ways, he develops some aspects of the Mythos better. His characters are more fleshed out and are used as more than devices to spread the feeling of fear and fatalism about an indifferent universe. He picks up some concepts and themes from some of Lovecraft's stories and creates a new story out of them set in the 21st Century. But my favorite part is how Howard subversively dissects Lovecraft's bigotry and racism. Mina is a descendant would have done Lovecraft proud if he could get past his white supremacy and racism. She's thoughtful, intelligent, emotionally stable, well-read, and loyal and very strong. She had a matter-of-fact approach to weirdness, which is enviable, considering some of the events that happen in this family. She seems to be the antidote to Lovecraft's claustrophobic fear of the Other and conviction that some people are just genetically inferior. Daniel Carter is a good co-lead. He's a decent guy. As a cop, he tends to be a skeptic about things, but in the face of weirdness, he doesn't shut down, he follows the lead. I like that he had to confront his own hidden prejudices and comes out a better man after he did so. He does feel at times the helplessness in the face of events beyond their comprehension that is emblematic of Lovecraft's protagonists, but doesn't give into and doesn't allow it to break his mind. There's a developing connection between Carter and Lovecraft, but it's nascent. They become friends, and its likely what they go through will only strengthen that bond. It is possible that things may become romantic over time. But more importantly, they know that they have each others' backs. Of course, there had to be some weird people, because it's Lovecraft. The rogue mathematician, the Waites, femme fatales who are simultaneously sexy but also deeply wrong, and their brain dead spouses, the mysterious lawyer who informs Carter of the bequest. Enough to make any reader feel uneasy about everything. So why the <b>3.5/5.0 star </b>rating? The main feeling I came out of this was "What did I just read?" It feels short to me. It was a book that kept my interest, and I liked the main characters, but I also felt like there was a lot that I didn't get or understand when it ended. There are some gruesome elements to this story and subject matter that made me uncomfortable. This one is not for young readers. Frankly, I was a bit disturbed by some imagery. The rogue mathematician who discovers a way to manipulate reality is a profoundly damaged individual lacking in morals. His acts are unconscionable and bizarrely cruel. To him, murder is manipulating the odds. It's always hard to read about people like this for me. Readers who like having the questions will enjoy this book. I think I would have preferred a longer book that delved a little deeper into those unanswered questions. This is going to be a series, so maybe things will be more fleshed out in later books. I like the main characters and the concept, so I'll keep reading.

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review 2018-01-11 18:45
After the End of the World by Jonathan L. Howard
After the End of the World (Carter & Lovecraft) - Jonathan L. Howard

 

At the end of the excellent CARTER & LOVECRAFT there was a major cliffhanger and I felt compelled to request an ARC of the next book. I have to admit I was disappointed with AFTER THE END OF THE WORLD.

 

The things I loved most in the universe that Jonathan Howard has created was the weirdness of it-the mysterious Mr. Weston who started everything off by showing up and awarding Dan Carter ownership of a bookshop, run by Emily Lovecraft. (Emily is black and you can almost hear Lovecraft turning over in his grave.) I also enjoyed an area called Waite's Bill, an isolated place on the shore where creepy, mysterious people live. (Not to mention the large amphibian-like creatures emerging from the water!) Unfortunately, other than Dan Carter and Emily, most of the mysterious fun things I liked from the first book were not here. 

 

The world has unfolded, (the major event which ended CARTER & LOVECRAFT), and we're now in a universe where we are great friends with Germany and the Holocaust never happened. A group of Germans working at Miskatonic University are trying to build a machine that will provide unlimited power without draining any natural resources. Mr. Weston makes a brief appearance and Carter gets involved as a security guard at MU.

 

From there, I feel like the tale crept away from the components that I enjoyed and veered into the area of weird science-fiction, with the entire group of scientists, (as well as Carter and Lovecraft),  traveling to the Aleutian Islands to continue their work on the power machine. The pacing slowed way down and I really couldn't have cared less about the machine, the Germans, or anything else for that matter. Events degenerated until the story was more like an action movie than the dark fiction horror story I was expecting. I don't care for action movies.

 

I still love Dan and Emily and am fascinated by Mr. Weston and the weird creatures, but I'm not sure I'll continue with the series if there is another book. This case is one of those "It's me, not you" situations, I think, because everyone else seemed to love this book. While I admired the world building and the banter between my favorite characters, the meat of the story just didn't appeal to me. 

 

*Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the e-ARC of this book in exchange for my honest review. This is it. I'm sorry it's a little late.*

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review 2017-12-28 05:15
Lovecraft Country: Or, the real monster is racism
Lovecraft Country: A Novel - Matt Ruff

This book really exceeded all my expectations. What I had heard about this book prior to digging in was that Ruff had taken some of Lovecraft's themes and spun them from a black perspective. This is so much more than that though. Ruff doesn't just plumb Lovecraft's oeuvre, but that of classic sci-fi and horror as a whole. And even better? It doesn't just place black characters into these stories, it focuses on the black experience. The real monster in this book, again and again, isn't whatever is creeping in the darkness: it is racism. And the book is not shy about it at all.

 

It wasn't just different getting to see this perspective, it was actually refreshing. The characters were resourceful, clever, and always thinking ahead...because they had to in order to survive in the world. It made them amazing horror protagonists - they never passed around the stupid ball in order to serve the plot. It reminded me of that old Eddie Murphy bit about black folks walking into a haunted house, being told by a specter to get out, and them just walking right out the door. Here we have an entire cast of folks thinking on their feet, communicating with each other, and out maneuvering whatever gets thrown at them. I liked these people and it was a pleasure cheering for them.

 

The one thing about this book that was a hurdle for me was the format, which took some adjustment. While there is one overarching plot, and things do tie together in the end, this book is structured as a collection of interconnected short stories. Each story focuses on a different character, and tells a different stand-alone story within the greater whole. As someone who rarely enjoys short stories this put me off somewhat, but the line that ran through all of them kept me connected to the book and made starting over in each section less of a chore. There were certainly parts I liked more than others (I particularly seemed to enjoy the stories focused on the female characters, which was a bit of a surprise), but I never felt particularly marooned like I have in some other collections.

 

All in all this book was something special. If you're familiar with classic horror and sci-fi tropes, like haunted houses, animated dolls, or Jekyll & Hyde to name a few, this book should at the very least amuse. And if you also happen to be looking for more inclusive literature, or stories from black perspectives, this will likely strike a chord. I'm really glad I picked it up, and look forward to seeing how it adapts to the small screen in the future.

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review 2017-11-23 00:00
Polaris
Polaris - H.P. Lovecraft Otro pequeño relato de H. P. Lovecraft muy interesante sobre los sueños, los astros, una ciudad y sus enemigos. En lo personal este relato me gustó mucho, se ve el misticismo con el que Lovecraft manifiesta su afición por los astros, los sueños y los misterios, un autor adelantado a su época. Lo recomiendo si les late Lovecraft y los relatos/libros de misterio.
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review 2017-11-23 00:00
Beyond the Wall of Sleep
Beyond the Wall of Sleep - H.P. Lovecraft Interesante relato de H. P. Lovecraft sobre los sueños, sus misterios y la realidad, pero algo racista. Lo recomiendo si les late este autor.
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