Posted on July 23, 2008 by Matt-M-McElroy
As explorers conquered the frontiers of North America, they disturbed sleeping terrors and things long forgotten by humanity. Journey into the undiscovered country where fierce Vikings struggle against monstrous abominations. Travel with European colonists as they learn of buried secrets and the creatures guarding ancient knowledge. Go west across the plains, into the territories were sorcerers dwell in demon-haunted lands, and cowboys confront cosmic horrors.
I’ve been reading a lot of Mythos fiction lately. It started with my review of Cthulhu Live 3rd Edition, which was a lot of fun and renewed my interest in the genre once more. Since then I’ve picked up several books and was blown away by the Trail of Cthulhu RPG from Pelgrane Press. So I started digging into the fiction collections even more…
Frontier Cthulhu is a bit different, having characters explore the “frontier” throughout the ages and encountering dark, twisted horrors along the way. The mix of writing styles and different characters keeps this collection going. I may not have enjoyed all of the stories, but there was certainly enough interesting details to keep me hooked through the end.
Several of the tales feature “regular” people encountering something horrific for the first time and having to come to grips with the monstrosity before them. This is certainly part of the mythos, but it can get a little tiring after a bit if the story does not have anything new to add to the hook. Luckily, with the new “frontier” setting, the reader is rewarded by some new/different settings that are explored in each of these stories.
My favorite stories from this collection are “The Long Road Home” by Paul Melniczek and “Snake Oil” by Matthew Baugh, (although I think both tales could have been a bit longer, which would have allowed the authors an extra chapter or two for more character development). There is plenty of great stuff here, those two tales stand just a bit above the rest. Sure, there are always a few stories in each of these collections that I don’t enjoy as much as the rest, but I honestly had very few that I didn’t care for in this collection.
“In Waters Black the Lost Ones Sleep” by Angeline Hawkes and “Where Men Had Seldom Trod” by Lee Clark Zumpe could certainly have used a heavier hand from the editor. Both of them suffer a bit from run-on sentences and flat descriptions. However, the overall plots these two authors present are still rather entertaining.
All-in-all, this book is a fun read and I have no trouble recommending it to Mythos fans looking for a fresh take on the genre. For people playing Lovecraft inspired RPGs there is plenty of great source material for new adventures and interesting antagonists. Combined with Cthulhu Dark Ages, for example, a group could explore all kinds of “frontier” horror.