Posted on August 18, 2010 by Monica Valentinelli
Available at Amazon.com
Sometimes, when I’m itching for a story, I’ll pick up an anthology and check out some of the short stories that lurk within. To me, a good anthology has a broad range of stories; some will appeal to me, and some won’t. Released in April 2010, CTHULHU’S REIGN is a collection of tales edited by Darrell Schweitzer that gives authors like Jay Lake, Ken Asamatsu and Gregory Frost the opportunity to describe what happens after the Old Ones appear.
My interest in this anthology is more curiosity than anything, because so much attention is often placed on summoning Cthulhu or the Old Ones. So what happens after they appear? Well, if these stories are any indication, humankind wouldn’t last long. Such Bright And Risen Madness In Our Names by Jay Lake is a great story that meshes the first person voice so common in Lovecraft’s stories with a post-apocalyptic feel. Her Acres of Pastoral Playground by Mike Allen, on the other hand, is one of my favorite stories in the anthology because it’s incredibly character-driven and manages to hold a lot of tension throughout the story. I also appreciated this particular tale because it was written in a more straightforward fashion; this tale could be read by those who know Lovecraft’s mythos or those who don’t. I also really enjoyed The Shallows by John Langan for that reason as well.
Unlike other anthologies, the stories within CTHULHU’S REIGN also push the boundaries of narration. There’s a healthy dose of experimentation with these stories like the one that Matt Cardin wrote entitled The New Pauline Corpus. As a result, some of the stories will require a close read, which is something to keep in mind if you’re picking this anthology up.
As I indicated above, the stories range from the surreal to the real and everything in between. Admittedly, I was a little disappointed to see that there weren’t any female authors in this anthology, but that didn’t stop me from enjoying the stories in CTHULHU’S REIGN. Probably one of the most refreshing things about this anthology, was the fact that there were different cultures explored within the stories. For example, Japanese horror author Ken Asamatsu wrote Spherical Trigonometry, which was set in Tokyo.
If you want to read a collection of tales that embraces the Cthulhu Mythos from a unique perspective, then I recommend picking up this short story collection entitled CTHUHU’S REIGN. For more information, you can read the CTHULHU’S REIGN Review on Innsmouth Free Press or the author interviews at Black Gate magazine.
Review by Monica Valentinelli