An Adora-Horrible Addition For Your Christmas List

Call of Cthulhu

I love Lovecraft. Let’s just get that out of the way to start with. I could start this with some evocative phrase like: Cthulhu was dead, to begin with. You’d blink and think, I’ve heard that line before …. wait … she’s ripping off A Christmas Carol! and you’d be completely and utterly correct. While Dickens didn’t have a dead, dreaming Elder God in mind when he evoked the dread of Marley was dead, to begin with, it’s Christmas and both stories spiral into that other world, at the edge of the abyss, of man’s subconscious. Eighty-five years separate the two: A Christmas Carol in 1843 and the first appearance of Cthulhu in 1928. I bring up A Christmas Carol for two reasons: It’s December 17th (still), for a few more moments, and the story was originally published on December 17, 1843 — that’s ONE HUNDRED AND SEVENTY YEARS AGO — and the second reason is because it kind of fits with what The Littlest Lovecraft is doing with this:

cthulhumasHere is the Facebook Event: https://www.facebook.com/events/237875309714273/240882192746918/?notif_t=plan_mall_activity . It’s been great fun, so far, and there are days left. I’ll be blunt: there are tentacle dice on the line for this, which is why this review is appearing today instead of later on with a proper interview with the writer and artist, but that will, I hope come at another time.

Six Tentacle Dice….

That will, however, in no way influence my review of the book, because I love the book just that much, and have since before it was released. I’ve purchased multiple copies. I donated one to the library and can tell you (happily) that it is currently checked out and when it manages to rest from BEING checked out, it’s being perused and flipped through and enjoyed.

I came across it by accident. I was looking for prizes to give away during the annual Coffin Hop Blog Tour in October. A children’s book? R’lyeh? Okay, that was bad, I admit it. But, a lavishly, darkly illustrated tome true to Lovecraft’s vision and story crafting that is meant to be read aloud? Unholy hell, I wished I hadn’t had a theme for Halloween Story Time this year! The artwork is fantastic and evocative and reading the book (as I first did) on my HTC phone because I was too impatient to wait for the hard copy to reach me took nothing away from the experience. It translated beautifully among the media. Another thing I appreciated is how the respect with which the authors treat the story shines through all aspects of it. Nothing is over the top or overdone or watered down just because it is a picture book. It’s true, you know, with the tiniest of children who do not yet have a grasp or comprehension of language; pictures are the medium through which they experience the story. There is obviously a lot going on in each and every drawing–the movement, the palette chosen–all of these enhance the text and never detract from it.  Before the scenes aboard Emma and Alert, the artwork has a very Edward Gorey feel. Whether or not that was intentional, it works. It works wonderfully.

Be aware, the whole tale is here–from the cultists to the uncharted island of supernatural terror that is the corpse-city of R’lyeh, to the insanity aboard Alert. There is real horror here. As the artwork does not detract from the original story, neither does this retelling of it. The metered phrasing is A-B-C-B, like many children’s books, but there is nothing forced about finding the words to fit the rhyming scheme or meter. Because of the lilting phrasing, it is a book you can enjoy with your little ones without completely freaking them out. I suppose I should mention that I’m old enough to remember when people were concerned that some of Dr. Seuss’ artwork and storylines would “freak out the children.”

It is still on my phone. I scroll through and read it from time to time. I suppose you could classify it as a “quick fix” for Lovecraft addicts on the go in its eBook form. In its hardcover form, it is something to cradle and curl up with, to fix a nice cup of tea with and just sink inside the beautiful, terrifying, adora-horrible mythos….
Five Bloody HandprintsFive Bloody Handprints because it’s just that awesome!

Buy it NOW from Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Littlest-Lovecraft-The-Call-Cthulhu/dp/0989441903/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1387358321&sr=8-1&keywords=The+Littlest+Lovecraft

 

Coffin Hop Day 3: A Sea of Horror….

And walkest on the foaming deep,

And calm amid the storm didst sleep;

O hear us when we cry to thee

For those in peril on the Sea…..

 27.024000,27.024000

Ahab and all his boat’s crew seemed asleep but the Parsee; who crouching in the bow, sat watching the sharks, that spectrally played round the whale, and tapped the light cedar planks with their tails. A sound like the moaning in squadrons over Asphaltites of unforgiven ghosts of Gomorrah, ran shuddering through the air.

Started from his slumbers, Ahab, face to face, saw the Parsee; and hooped round by the gloom of the night they seemed the last men in a flooded world. “I have dreamed it again,” said he.

“Of the hearses? Have I not said, old man, that neither hearse nor coffin can be thine?”

“And who are hearsed that die on the sea?”

“But I said, old man, that ere thou couldst die on this voyage, two hearses must verily be seen by thee on the sea; the first not made by mortal hands; and the visible wood of the last one must be grown in America.”

“Aye, aye! a strange sight that, Parsee!- a hearse and its plumes floating over the ocean with the waves for the pall-bearers. Ha! Such a sight we shall not soon see.”

“Believe it or not, thou canst not die till it be seen, old man.”

“And what was that saying about thyself?”

“Though it come to the last, I shall still go before thee thy pilot.”

                                                                ~ Herman Melville, Moby Dick

260px-Cthulhu_sketch_by_Lovecraft

It was a simple, rambling thing – a naive sailor’s effort at a post-facto diary – and strove to recall day by day that last awful voyage. I cannot attempt to transcribe it verbatim in all its cloudiness and redundance, but I will tell its gist enough to shew why the sound the water against the vessel’s sides became so unendurable to me that I stopped my ears with cotton.

Johansen, thank God, did not know quite all, even though he saw the city and the Thing, but I shall never sleep calmly again when I think of the horrors that lurk ceaselessly behind life in time and in space, and of those unhallowed blasphemies from elder stars which dream beneath the sea, known and favoured by a nightmare cult ready and eager to loose them upon the world whenever another earthquake shall heave their monstrous stone city again to the sun and air.

                                                                                ~ H.P. Lovecraft, The Call of Cthulhu

Hodgson Illustration by Philippe Druillet in 1971
Hodgson Illustration by Philippe Druillet in 1971

Strange as the glimmer of the ghastly light. That shines from some vast crest of wave at night.

                                                        ~William Hope Hodgson, The Ghost Pirates

 

I really don’t know why there isn’t more sea-based horror. Really.  From Melville’s Moby Dick to Hodgson’s The Ghost Pirates to Lovecraft’s The Call of Cthulu, the sea offers myriad opportunities for scaring the living daylights out of us. In some aspects, it is that monsters lurk in the deep. In other aspects, it’s that we, ourselves, are the monsters that ply upon the waters. Wolf Larsen, the dark and brooding captain of The Ghost in Jack London’s The Sea Wolf, tortures his crew after a failed mutiny attempt. While London’s story is not specifically “horror,” the horror elements within it are inarguable. The same holds true for Moby Dick. Fedallah’s interpretation of Ahab’s dream of the hearses, the heart-wrenching sadness of Rachel lurching toward every shadow that might be the captain’s lost son, the madness of The Pequod’s captain that condemns his crew to death…  all of those may only be “horrific elements,” but I find myself arguing that Moby Dick is, truly, a horror novel.

But, post-World War II, there hasn’t been the sea horror there was in previous decades. I believe this is because we’ve become, fundamentally, separated from the sea. In earlier times, people would never have breathed a sigh of relief that a storm was “safely out at sea.” So tied were people to the sea that such a statement would have been anathema. Not so anymore, yet, there remains in us a fascination with “the Big Blue Wet Thing” (Muppet Treasure Island) and the mysteries that “lurk ceaselessly” within its depths. As Lovecraft intimated in The Call of Cthulhu, it is a primeval coupling that draws us to the watery depths. He says it much better than I say it, but I enjoy the old ways of writing about gelatinous ooze and many-tentacled beasts.

The Littlest Lovecraft

Call of Cthulhu

Contest! (For I have been remiss about contests the last two days) I have TWO prizes today from the good folks at The Littlest Lovecraft. First prize is a hardbound version of their upcoming children’s book The Call of Cthulhu! Second prize is an eBook version of the book. What to do, what to do … I have a question that needs answering: In all your reading experience, what is the ONE BOOK you think of that is not traditionally classified as “horror,” but works “horrifically” for you?

#CoffinHop Continues! There are so many great posts and contests and interviews out there this year! Keep Coffin Hopping!