Top positive review
Diverse explorations of the Cthulu Mythos...
Reviewed in the United States on January 19, 2014
The mythology borne of the dark imagination of American author H.P. Lovecraft, known as the “Cthulu Mythos”, has made an indelible mark on the horror and fantasy genres. While widespread fame did not arrive until after Lovecraft’s death in 1937, his legacy is continued by emerging and established authors.
Even the likes of Stephen King, in his short story N., have referenced and depicted the tentacle-faced “Great Old One” Cthulu and his return from the depths of the ocean. Throughout the work of modern writers, the monster’s grim shadow continues to fall across Lovecraft’s fictional Middle American town of Innsmouth.
Whispers From The Abyss is an impressive collection of short stories that are inspired by the Cthulu Mythos. Indeed, the god-like entity Cthulu looms large throughout. But the stories contained within vary widely in tone, with each writer approaching the mythology from a distinctly different angle. Some authors conjure Cthulu’s dark magic in a literal way and others more indirectly. So, for the uninitiated, Whispers From The Abyss works as a collection of horror stories and a detailed knowledge of Lovecraft’s writing is not required to enjoy these twisted tales.
There are some unexpected takes on the Cthulu Mythos in this book. Writer Jason Andrew successfully drops Hunter S. Thompson’s gonzo protagonist into an occult mystery in Fear and Loathing in Innsmouth: Richard Nixon’s Revenge.
Other authors cast unsettling tension through different prisms. David Tallerman does this through the voice of a child in My Friend Fishfinger by Daisy, Age 7. Jonathan Sharp creeps out the reader through the a piece of rock journalism in Nation of Disease: The Rise and Fall of a Canadian Legend.
Some of the other stories are an exercise in brevity, but still manage to pack a punch. Small and spooky stand-outs include J.C. Hemphill’s Pushing Back, Martin Hill Ortiz’s Nutmeat and Mason Ian Bundschuh’s When We Change. An extreme example is Charles Black’s The Last Tweet which, as its title suggests, is a horror story of only 140 characters.
Some of the highlights of Whispers From The Abyss are those laced with dark humour. Charles Black’s Horrorscope draws on farce. James Brogden’s The Decorative Water Feature of Nameless Dread invokes terror through a parochial radio gardening program.
A particularly vivid entry is Give Me That Old Time Religion by Lee Finney, which is masterful in building a sense of foreboding in a small word count.
Whispers From The Abyss’ finale, Josh Finney’s Death Wore Greasepaint, is particularly gruesome and deliciously twisted.
The disturbed clown working his television studio audience of children into a primal frenzy – and the horror that follows – are the most vivid and memorable from this accomplished collection.