One of the things that has always held me back from appreciating Lovecraft’s writing--you know, besides the racism peppered throughout--is ... well, Lovecraft’s writing.
His mythos was mesmerizing, and it’s easy to see how readers and writers have held onto it and nurtured it over the decades, but with each of those passing decades Lovecraft’s writing becomes even more impenetrable for me. By today’s standards it comes off as almost Vaudevillian in its presentation. Thank goodness for writers like Anonymous-9 who can drag that mythos in the 21st century.
In Dreaming Deep, Ed Angelus is a tugboat captain tormented by the death of his young son who was swept out to sea one year before this story begins. Ed hears, or perhaps feels, his son's voice calling for help out there in the water of the Long Beach, California. The obsession finally drives him to go out in the middle of the night, steal a boat, to find his son. But what he finds leaves him unconscious, half mad, and hair as white as snow. It's not 'til his crew and the coast guard find him that the severity of what has happened to his mind comes to bear. He's ranting and raving about shooting a creature with claws and tentacles and wings, the kind of monstrosity his son used to love reading about in those Lovecraft stories. Ed's arrested, sentenced, and pumped full of drugs in a mental facility.
The horror elements blend with the crime elements even more, as Ed's crew begin to wonder if their captain may have been telling the truth, because months after their captain is taken away they haul something up out of the water that looks a heckuva lot like the thing Ed said he shot that night. And when the authorities round 'em all up and put the gag orders on them, they figure something much bigger than one weird looking sea monster. With that revelation, Ed finds himself released from custody, and encouraged to keep quite while authorities look into what it was he killed out on the water.
Ed's heartache over a son's loss is palpable. The camaraderie of his tugboat crew is invigorating, even if they're featured in what amounts to an interlude during Ed's incarceration. Anonymous-9's attention to technical detail is remarkable, never undercutting the pace of the story. And the idea of Lovecraft and his monsters existing in the same universe is captivating when done right, as it is here. But where the book managed to disappoint me was in its resolution, or rather its lack of one.
Dreaming Deep is a captivating and suspenseful mystery that halts in such a fashion that I was left frantically searching for the next page, but to no avail. It's not so much a cliffhanger as it is an open door showing you there is more to Ed's story and this world to be explored, but you'll drive yourself mad waiting for it. Only Lovecraft himself could come up with a proper configuration of letters to represent my warbling upon reading “THE END.”
I'm left looking forward to reading more of Anonymous-9's stories, though I am most eager to read what was left unwritten in Dreaming Deep.
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