Lovecraft's reach and influence can still be felt almost 100 years since his death. With new novels and anthologies hitting the shelf almost every week, the cosmic horror fan has never had so much material to choose from to satisfy their needs for adventure from the other realms. However, as is the case with most genres, the Lovecraftian genre is filled with so many substandard works. Poor pastiches that fail to understand what source material was trying to convey, or even worse, where the author tries and fails to sound like the source material and ends being Cthulhu played by Dick Van Dyke.
Luckily for us, there are a few writers that are capable of writing an authentic, yet original story based on the Lovecraft Mythos, Gary Fry is one such author and his novella The Rage of Cthulhu the latest in Horrific Tales fine line of premium novellas brings a new update to Call of Cthulhu.
George Cox, after being forced to retire from his work as a University Professor, due to a life-threatening medical condition, chooses to travel the world with his wife, and fulfil a dream that they both shared. While on his travels he comes across a disused Foghorn station in England, that has suffered massive damage. With his interest piqued George and his wife continue on their travels while he tries desperately to unearth the truth behind the Foghorn, and the legends of the mysterious tentacled faced being that appears to have been the cause of the damage to the Foghorn.
The Rage of Cthulhu captures much of what made source materials so endearing. Fry clearly understands and more importantly is respectful of Lovecraft's legacy. This is what some people would call a slow burner story; I prefer to call it carefully plotted story designed to layer on an increasing sense of dread and fear of the unknown. As George learns more of the legend and succumbs to both its spell and his illness the reader is treated to a smart updating of one of Lovecraft's most famous and loved stories. Fry captures the essence of Lovecraft ably, while still allowing his own writing style to shine through, preventing The Rage of Cthulhu from becoming just another typical Lovecraftian story.
The measured sense of dread and foreboding as the story unfolds and the way in which Fry uses George's medical problems as a mirror for the descent into madness that befalls so many of Lovecraft's protagonists is handled with a deft touch. George's condition allows Fry to explore the unreliable narrator approach with great success. This is George's story, and this made evident by the limited character development of the subsidiary characters of the book, even George's wife is painted with broad narrative strokes. That's not to say that this is a bad thing, as this approach allows the story to focus on George and journey into mythical madness, and Fry's development of George as a character is strong enough for anchor point of the story.
The Rage of Cthulhu is a worthy entry in Lovecraft mythos, one that retains the essence of the source material while allowing Fry to add is own unique and strong voice to the story. A dark and brooding novella that evokes the sense of dread and despair that is required from a Mythos story with great success.
When George Cox chances upon a disused foghorn station on the English coast, he wonders what could have been big enough to cause so much damage to it. His investigations take him and his wife all around the world, tracking down stories about an ancient creature rumoured to have occupied the planet hundreds of thousands of years ago.
Even if such a creature existed, it had to be dead now, hadn’t it? At any rate, it couldn’t be haunting George’s dreams. It couldn’t be summoning him from its immense grave. But the closer George comes to the truth, the more he learns that all the travel guides lack one vital piece of information: In his house at R’lyeh dead Cthulhu waits dreaming