Shadows Over the Anthology

This article was originally published on Ferretbrain. I’ve backdated it to its original Ferretbrain publication date but it may have been edited and amended since its original appearance.

Stephen Jones’ Shadows Over Innsmouth series of anthologies takes an approach to compiling themed Mythos anthologies which represents a similar but different approach to Price’s ”Cycle” books – whereas Price’s Cycles take in stories which influenced or dealt with particular entities or concepts in Lovecraft’s fiction, Shadows Over Innsmouth compiles stories written in response to one specific Lovecraft story – namely, The Shadow Over Innsmouth. This is a concept which unfortunately gets tired out before the first anthology, Shadows Over Innsmouth, is even done – let alone when you get to the followup anthologies.

Jones starts the first collection out with the obvious-yet-redundant choice of Lovecraft’s own The Shadow Over Innsmouth – it’s obvious because it’s the story that inspired the collection, but redundant because there’s no fucking way anyone who went out of their way to buy this thing doesn’t already own it. Our first dose of original material is Basil Copper’s Beyond the Reef, which sets the tone for the rest of the book by being an amateurish pastiche. Copper makes a token attempt at a Lovecraftian prose style, but it’s inconsistently applied and rather poor and wooden. Mere imitation cannot reproduce the long effort Lovecraft put into finding his voice, and slipping into and out of that voice over the course of the story just exposes Copper’s poor grip on it. In addition, he commits the basic error of having a framing story which establishes the main narrative as being a particular character’s witness statement, but has them talking about themselves in the third person and recounting conversations in detail despite the fact that they weren’t actually present. I couldn’t finish it.

Continue reading “Shadows Over the Anthology”

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The Reading Canary: The Vampire Genevieve

This article was originally published on Ferretbrain. I’ve backdated it to its original Ferretbrain publication date but it may have been edited and amended since its original appearance.

The Reading Canary: A Reminder

Series of novels – especially in fantasy and SF, but distressingly frequently on other genres as well – have a nasty tendency to turn sour partway through. The Reading Canary is your guide to precisely how far into a particular sequence you should read, and which side-passages you should explore, before the noxious gases become too much and you should turn back.

Jack Yeovil: Haunting the Old World

As I’ve mentioned in previous reviews of early Warhammer tie-in novels, many of the first series produced by Games Workshop Books were written by fairly successful SF, fantasy and horror authors under pseudonyms. Kim Newman comes from a horror background, and is known for novels such as Anno Dracula, a peerfic of Dracula depicting a world where Van Helsing’s posse failed to drive Dracula out of England, and the Count ends up ruling the country. It’s not surprising, then, that the stories he wrote for Games Workshop under his Jack Yeovil pseudonym emphasise the more horrific aspects of the Warhammer world, as evidenced by the presence of Genevieve Dieudonne, a centuries-old vampire who does her utmost to resist the baser instincts of her kind and appears in many of the Yeovil tales – enough that Games Workshop and the Black Library have consistently presented her as the main protagonist of the Yeovil stories, even though that’s really not the case. But while the stories that she’s the mascot for are widely-praised by those who follow Warhammer tie-ins, can Genevieve offer anything to outsiders?

The spoiler-free answer is “Yes, but only about half the time”; for the detailed answer, read on.

Continue reading “The Reading Canary: The Vampire Genevieve”