Hello folks. If you recall a few weeks ago I asked the regulars how they felt about me making this website into an author page, where I could include my hobby writing (Which is what my Games Blog is), along with stuff to do with creative writing and fiction. The response was generally “Go for it” so I have been spending time over the last week or so tinkering with the back end of the website. I am just about ready to change format, but despite it not happening at time of writing this, I don’t see any reason this should prevent me from doing some of my writing stuff. So, today I will be doing my first review of an independent Author, Richard Klu (Click on his name to visit his site), who kindly gave me a review copy of his HP Lovecraft inspired Cabals of Blood.
I should say no money changed hands and I was given a free Kindle Copy as part of the deal, though sadly it is not available in the UK so I can’t download it. There will be an affiliate link to Cabals of Blood at the end of this review.
It wasn’t that long ago that I was reading my copy of the complete works of HP Lovecraft, so I am familiar with Mythos type stories of Elder Gods and Dark Magic with a cost coming in anthology form. Cabals of Blood is significantly shorter than my Lovecraft tome, weighing in at 167 pages according to Amazon.Com. And I found the style of book to be very similar to that of Lovecraft. Cabals of Blood works as an introductory anthology into Klu’s world, where there are Elder Gods, Hidden Cities, Dream Worlds and “Alien” races. And I mean Alien in the specifically Non-Human sense, though not necessarily cosmic. Some of the inclusions for this anthology lacked plot and served simply as a description for one of the Elder Beings or their creations, whereas other stories followed scientists or would-be sorcerers and priests who desperately want to peek behind the curtain of reality.
The Good Stuff
There are some cracking good stories in this anthology. I particularly enjoyed Deathly Muse about a writer who makes deals with a demon to become a more successful writer. This story was interesting, and served as a good metaphor about writing in general. I also particularly liked The Third and Purple Layer which is a story about a city hidden from the world and one person’s obsession with it. I admit, I didn’t predict the end of that story though and the fact that it surprised me increased my enjoyment.
There were other good stories in the anthology, but those two stuck out for me. I also liked the inter-connectivity of the world. Characters from one story cropped as references in other stories and I quite liked this. I understand this book is a starter book for the world and perhaps we will see more stories that connect together in the future.
And, probably the thing in this entire book that I liked the most was in the final story (which wasn’t one of my favourites, but this one element was awesome). There is a part of the story where a person who is being indoctrinated into a cult, and there is a description of the invasive and infectious nature of the ideas and teachings of the cult. There is a fantastic turn of phrase about the ideas forcing their way through the brain and creating new ways of thinking. I particularly liked this as it is reminiscent of how people form neural pathways, as children and young adults, that define their way of thinking. I thought this was a good parallel and a good way of linking how cultists become deranged to something that we are at least passingly familiar with (or at least I am as I have friends who are teachers/teaching students).
The Less Good Stuff
Ok. There were a lot of Typos and Grammatical Errors. I forced myself to ignore them all the way through the book, but I was disappointed at the sheer volume of them. Don’t get me wrong, I have written some howlers in early drafts in my time, though my own process of editing plus input from others eliminates the majority if not all. I would recommend the use of a proofreader for future publication.
I mentioned the stories that stuck out above. There were more stories that fell into the “It was ok, but not surprising” category. Perhaps this is because I have read Lovecraft recently, and as a result I was able to see a lot of things coming. Perhaps it was something else. Either way, I felt that a lot of the stories were quite familiar, and “Safe”, which is an unusual thing to say about Mythos type speculative fiction.
This anthology was not terrible, nor was it great. There were some good stories and some good ideas, but it took a while to find them. The typos were a let down, which made the less appealing stories more of a slog. However, I am glad I finished the book and am curious about what Klu has in store for his world in the future. Cabals of Blood is available on Amazon.Com and isn’t especially expensive, so if you have an interest in Sci Fi Horror, or Mythos related stories you aren’t risking much in giving it a shot.