Friday, July 12, 2013

That Which Should Not Be by Brett J. Talley

That Which Should Not Be is a literary pastiche that pays loving tribute to the writings and mythos of H.P. Lovecraft. In the author’s attempts to mimic Lovecraft’s style, he sometimes veers unintentionally into the realm of parody (I’m thinking specifically of the writing in the overblown opening chapters). This, of course, is a danger anyone would run into when choosing this particular subject to pay homage to, as Lovecraft himself often seemed like a parody of himself in his worst moments. One thing the reader should keep in mind before picking up this book (and I think you should pick it up) is that it doesn't feel like a novel. It’s really more like a short story collection with a wraparound story that ties it all together. If you know this going in (and I did), you won’t miss the lack of a narrative through line or the absence of any true character development for the protagonist (who spends the bulk of the book sitting in a pub listening to stories). I liked some stories better than others, of course, and felt the wraparound story was successful. My favorite pub tales in the book were the sanitarium and convent stories. If you like Lovecraft and wish there were more mythos stories written in his antiquated style, then you’re the person for whom this book was written.

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