Lovecraft Country – #BookReview

Hey everyone, Slick Dungeon here. I’m back to review another book from my September to be read list. This time I am reviewing the inspiration for the hit HBO show of the same name, Lovecraft Country.

SUMMARY

The critically acclaimed cult novelist makes visceral the terrors of life in Jim Crow America and its lingering effects in this brilliant and wondrous work of the imagination that melds historical fiction, pulp noir, and Lovecraftian horror and fantasy.

Chicago, 1954. When his father Montrose goes missing, 22-year-old Army veteran Atticus Turner embarks on a road trip to New England to find him, accompanied by his Uncle George—publisher of The Safe Negro Travel Guide—and his childhood friend Letitia. On their journey to the manor of Mr. Braithwhite—heir to the estate that owned one of Atticus’s ancestors—they encounter both mundane terrors of white America and malevolent spirits that seem straight out of the weird tales George devours.

At the manor, Atticus discovers his father in chains, held prisoner by a secret cabal named the Order of the Ancient Dawn—led by Samuel Braithwhite and his son Caleb—which has gathered to orchestrate a ritual that shockingly centers on Atticus. And his one hope of salvation may be the seed of his—and the whole Turner clan’s—destruction.

A chimerical blend of magic, power, hope, and freedom that stretches across time, touching diverse members of two black families, Lovecraft Country is a devastating kaleidoscopic portrait of racism—the terrifying specter that continues to haunt us today.

REVIEW

5/5 STARS

In Chicago in 1954, Atticus Turner receives a letter from his father. The letter will take him to a place full of horrors, terrors, and the real nightmare of segregationist America. He has to travel deep into Lovecraft country where monsters roam and the cosmic terror of the world seems to be alive. It will take everything Atticus and his whole family have to brave the terrors that confront them and remain sane.

Usually when there is a book and a movie or television show and I have read and seen them both, I am able to tell you if one is better than the other. Most of the time I come down on the side of the book being better but occasionally there is a movie or series that outperforms its source material. I can’t make the distinction either way here. The book and the show are both amazing in their own unique way.

The book, unlike the show, feels a little smaller in scope even though it deals with the strange cosmic entities that populate Lovecraftian horror. The drama is still personal and much like the show, there can be true horror facing the characters in the guise of monsters who only seem insignificant in the face of the terrors of racial prejudice and violence. The true terror comes from reality in both the book and the show and I think that is what makes the story feel so visceral and real.

Matt Ruff has created an intriguing cast of characters here and the situations he places them in are imaginative and brilliant. And while certain details differ from the show, this book is just as engaging. It’s a satisfying conclusion but I hope that there will be sequels to the book.

If you love historical fiction, pulp fiction, science fiction or cosmic horror even a little bit, this book is well worth a read.

Cosmically yours,

Slick Dungeon

This page contains affiliate links. If you purchase a product through one of them, I will receive a commission (at no additional cost to you). I only ever endorse products I have personally used. Thank you for your support!

Lovecraft Country (Meet Me in Daegu) Episode 6 Spoiler-free Review

The Series is Bold Enough to Ask What Makes a Monster

Hey Everyone, Slick Dungeon, here back to give a spoiler free review of the sixth episode of the HBO series Lovecraft Country.

What is a monster? Can a monster have human emotions? Can a human who has done monstrous things still be a human? These are the questions that the sixth episode of Lovecraft Country wrestles with. Not enough horror poses this question and those that do typically just ask it on the surface. This episode was masterful at asking this question and forcing the audience to truly think about it.

The episode itself is basically a flashback episode that relates to the larger story. It’s the only episode so far that does not take place in America but that’s all that I am going to tell you because I really don’t want to give this one away.

I think if this show is going to win Emmys in the future, it should be this episode that is considered. The acting here is fascinating and the drama is real.

I have thought a lot about why this show is so good and I think it is this; the show can let you see something horrific, a terrible monster that is objectively scary, and then moments later the show will let you see something from reality that is even scarier. Any show that can place reality as the real horror has done its job well because while we might have nightmares about the big scary monster, there is no escaping reality.

I have no idea where the drama will take us next but I know I am ready for the ride.

Horrifically yours,

Slick Dungeon

Lovecraft Country (Strange Case) Episode 5 Spoiler-free Review

The Horror and Family Drama is Back on Track

Hey Everyone, Slick Dungeon, here back to give a spoiler free review of the fifth episode of the HBO series Lovecraft Country.

The previous episode was a throwback to Indiana Jones for some reason and it felt kind of out of place with the rest of the show. The most recent episode is much more on track. We are back to following the family drama and this episode has tons of interesting things to say on race and class. At the same time, it is full of body horror so if you are squeamish prepare to shut your eyes through a lot of the episode.

There are twists and turns that are surprising and unpredictable and as usual the very end will leave you just wanting to see the next episode as soon as possible. The show is able to be intellectual and visceral all at once which is an interesting mixture.

If you do watch this episode, I can promise that this is one of the episodes that will be in your mind months from now.

I feel like the show will need to have more episodes like this where the audience is both unable to turn away from the screen and wanting to turn away the whole time. There is still a deeper mystery going on here and I look forward to seeing how that plays out through the rest of the show.

Horrifically yours,

Slick Dungeon

We Summon the Darkness – #MovieReview

What’s up everyone? Slick Dungeon here back to review the Netflix horror flick We Summon the Darkness. I promise not to give too much away but if you continue reading from here on out there could be mild spoilers. You have been warned.

If you were alive in the 1980’s and knew about the hair metal bands of the time, this movie will bring you right back to that period. The opening has all the iconic things from the 80’s you remember. Leather jackets, teased hair, the old Twinkie boxes and even Jolt cola. The movie follows three women who go to a heavy metal concert. While there they see signs that things are not exactly great in the area. Apparently there has been a slue of murders attributed to a satanic cult. When the women get to the concert they meet three men out for one last night of fun before they say goodbye to one of their group for good. The two groups start to hang out and the evening suddenly becomes very deadly.

This movie is described as horror and while there certainly are horror elements to it, I would classify this as more of a thriller than anything. The plot is very grounded in reality and although we have seen this sort of thing before this movie does have a fresh take on it.

The movie makes great use of limited locations and most of the night takes place in a single house. In some ways this reminded me of The Purge but I think the movie I would say this is closest to mirroring is the excellent Kevin Smith film Red State.

If you like the 80’s, if you are a fan of horror or thriller films, and if you enjoy seeing some of those conventions upended, this movie is for you.

Horrifically yours,

Slick Dungeon

The Babysitter: Killer Queen – #MovieReview

Hey out there comedy horror fans, what’s going on? McG is back with another crazy horror comedy film on Netflix. Allow me, Slick Dungeon, to give you a little review of it. There will be some mild spoilers below so you have been warned.

The first film in the franchise (wait is 2 films a franchise?) followed Cole, a kid who was just a little too old to have a babysitter. Turns out his babysitter was part of a demon blood cult and they spent a night trying to kill him. It didn’t end well for them. If you want to know more about it, see my review of the first one here.

It’s two years later and while Cole is no longer under lethal threat, he is still the picked on kid at high school. But what about the girl he met from the first movie, doesn’t she like him? They kissed at the end of the last one, she must like him right? Well, she does seem to be the only one that does still think he is okay. She even invites him to go to a lake house for the weekend when….

HUGE SPOILER COMING

She tries to kill him because she is part of that same blood cult from the first movie.

The rest of the movie for the most part, plays out as you would expect. Old cast members return, new ones try to kill Cole, all of them die in gruesome and hilarious ways. There is another twist at the end that I won’t give away.

This movie is a little bigger than the first and there are a few more stunts but basically, if you watched and enjoyed the first one, this one is not a bad follow up. I definitely chuckled through most of it although some of the jokes felt less than fresh.

The only thing I never really bought was the beginning of the movie where they say that there was no evidence of anyone else being at Cole’s house the night of the first movie. I mean, what? There was like ten gallons of blood spilled and major damage to multiple parts of the neighborhood but whatever, I will let it go, this is not Hamlet.

I will say that I hope they leave it here because I think any movie after this one is going to lose the point. Does this movie have a point? Well, not really but it’s still fun, dumb, entertainment which is exactly what I look for in a horror comedy.

If you like comedy and have a strong stomach, this is totally worth ninety minutes of dumb fun.

Comedically yours,

Slick Dungeon

Lovecraft Country (A History of Violence) Episode 4 Spoiler-free Review

A Somewhat Disappointing 4th Episode But there is Still Plenty to Love in the Series

Hey Everyone, Slick Dungeon here back to give a spoiler free review of the fourth episode of the HBO series Lovecraft Country.

The first three episodes struck an amazing balance between family drama, the accurate portrayal of horrific segregationist realities in America and impossible monsters, magic and dangers. The fourth episode gives us… mostly an Indiana Jones style adventure.

Don’t get me wrong, there is still horror here and there are definitely moments of history, family drama etc. But most of it really is like something you would see in Indiana Jones. I’m not going to give away any more than that except to say that the series still has amazing potential and I think it will recover from this episode but I expect that when fans talk about the series in the future, episode 4 will be the one they say they could mostly have done without. Of course, if you are a fan of the show, you’ll still want to watch this episode as there are things that relate to the overall story that certainly happen. I found one side story to be particularly interesting and I have no idea where it is actually going.

The main action leaves a lot to be desired but as always the actors portraying the action are the best part of the show. They have all been able to pull off what would seem to be absurd to most of us while still keeping the feeling of their emotions on screen as real as it gets.

I’m looking forward to the next episode very much but if the show does have a few episodes like this one, it won’t turn out to be quite the brilliant show I thought it was. Here’s hoping for a better one next week.

Horrifically yours,

Slick Dungeon

Lovecraft Country (Holy Ghost) Episode 3 Spoiler-free Review

The Horror, the History, and The Surprises are STill Non-STop After 3 Episodes

Hey Everyone, Slick Dungeon here back to give a spoiler free review of the third episode of the HBO series Lovecraft Country.

This episode finds our heroes back home in Chicago, but that does not mean that the horror has left them. This episode has some particularly grisly horror in it so strong stomachs are recommended prior to viewing.

The episode was very engaging when it came to the historical aspects and the particular blend of horror, politics and pop culture. The soundtrack is downright incredible and the acting continues to be superb.

My only criticism of the show for this episode is that some of the effects didn’t hold up as well as in the first two episodes, but I won’t go into detail about that because I don’t want to give anything away. I will also say that despite the production value of some of the effects, the story is still able to throw plenty of horror at the viewer. That should come as no surprise to anyone considering that this is a horror show. But the ability the show has to increase tension is incredible.

There are not a lot of horror shows or movies where I feel actual fear but this may be one of the exceptions. The fact that such awful racist history has always existed in this country and the fact that there are still people who espouse those beliefs is horrifying beyond measure. Therefore the fear this show is able to exude is so palpable one can reach out and touch it. The first two episodes proved that nearly anything goes in this show and the third episode is no exception to that rule.

It’s amazing to me how well this show fits in American history, cosmic horror, literature, and present day all at once. It’s shows like these that prove that deeper understanding of the truth can sometimes only be achieved through fiction.

This show would be nothing if we didn’t care about the character’s fates and the unraveling mystery. This episode was superb at making us care about people’s lives even as completely unbelievable things occur all around them. I know that there is not a better horror show on television right now but after three episodes I am starting to think that there is not a better show period on television at this time.

Horrifically yours,

Slick Dungeon

Lovecraft Country (Whitey’s On The Moon) Episode 2 Spoiler-free Review

Delights, Surprises, and Horrors Continue in the Second Episode

Hey Everyone, Slick Dungeon here back to give a spoiler free review of the second episode of the HBO series Lovecraft Country.

The first episode set the tone with an intriguing blend of science fiction, the horrible reality of segregationist America and extremely gory cosmic horror that does not let up. It can be easy for a show to come out of the gate with an excellent pilot episode and then quickly disappoint in subsequent episodes. Sometimes a great premise does not carry through the initial setup. I’m glade to say that Lovecraft Country comes nowhere near to falling into that territory.

The second episode sees our three heroes in a different setting than where they started the series with the odds somehow stacked even more against them. The acting in this series is top notch, to say the least, and in this episode we get Abbey Lee as Christina Braithwhite. She is no stranger to horror/science fiction films and she increases the mystery without ever becoming ridiculous.

In this second episode there are some spots that I thought needed some explanation but that may come later in the series. Overall, this show seems like the best horror show to appear in years and if the third episode can be as strong as the first two, this will become a major horror must see.

Predicting what will happen next as you watch the show is nearly impossible and that’s saying something for anyone who is familiar with cosmic horror. The show has a very unique blend, up to and including the soundtrack. While I don’t want to give anything away here, I will say, I was surprised by the wide range of emotions that I ended up feeling while watching the episode.

If you have not yet seen the first two episodes yet, you should do that as soon as possible. I have a feeling that the next episode is going to get even better.

Cosmically yours,

Slick Dungeon

A Song for the Void – #BookReview

Note: this review was first posted on Reedsy Discovery, an awesome website that pairs independent authors and readers. To see the post there click here.

If you are a book reviewer and want to contribute reviews on Reedsy Discovery, click here.

SYNOPSIS

A Mind Imprisoned Is The Greatest Of Hells.

1853. South China Sea. While on patrol between the Opium Wars, the crew of the steam frigate HMS Charger pursues a fleet of pirates that have been terrorizing the waters surrounding Hong Kong.

But now the hunters have become the hunted. Something else has come to the South China Sea, something ancient and powerful and malevolent. Now, the crew of the Charger must face their worst nightmares in order to survive the terrible creature they come to know as the Darkstar.

A Song For The Void is a haunting, terrifying historical horror novel that will keep you turning the pages and jumping at the shadows.

Fans of HP Lovecraft, Stephen King, Neil Gaiman, or other authors of surreal fantasy and horror will enjoy “A Song For The Void”.

REVIEW 5/5 STARS

In 1853 on the high seas, during the height of the Opium Wars, a strange comet, lacking a tail, is seen. The celestial body will have an incredible influence over the crew of the HMS Charger, a modern ship pursuing a group of pirates. A doctor with a tragic past, who is struggling with personal demons, will face horrors never before imagined and must use his own experience to pierce into the truth of the strange happenings that surround him.

A Song for the Void is cosmic horror at its finest. The narrative is pulse-pounding and the characters are well developed, three-dimensional people, that the reader cannot help but be interested in. Horrors abound and stakes are high and deadly. At the same time, the historical aspect of the novel is well played and the perfect setting for this type of tale. Horror on the high seas in the vein of the Cthulhu mythos works extremely well here due to the deft handling of the subject matter by author Andrew Piazza.

The pacing is brilliant as the tale starts with exciting chase and battle scenes and it ever increases, making the stakes higher and the outcome more dangerous for the heroes at every turn. The evil faced in the book is well crafted and ominous. There are scenes in the book that will give the reader nightmares. When it comes to horror a reviewer can give no higher compliment than that. This book will scare you. If you love horror, that, after all, is the point.

This is a masterful page-turner that delights and surprises as well as horrifies. It ends with a wholly satisfying conclusion that is pitch-perfect for the story.

If you are a lover of cosmic horror or strange tales by the likes of H. P. Lovecraft and Clive Barker, you won’t find a better book out there than A Song for the Void. It’s cinematic in scope and personal in the narrative. This is a must-read for any horror fan looking for a story that knows how to scare.

Horrifically yours,

Slick Dungeon

This page contains affiliate links. If you purchase a product through one of them, I will receive a commission (at no additional cost to you). I only ever endorse products I have personally used. Thank you for your support

Lovecraft Country (Sundown) Episode 1 Spoiler-free Review

Horror Fans Clear Your Sunday Night Because You Have Plans

Hey all, Slick Dungeon, here back with another review for you. I watched the first episode of the HBO series Lovecraft Country. I want to give you my thoughts on it, but I will keep it free of spoilers, so if you have not seen the episode, read away.

Lovecraft Country is a horror series based on the book of the same name by author Matt Ruff. After watching the first episode of this series, that book is going directly on to my to be read list. The story is about a young black man who travels across the segregated 1950s United States in search of his missing father. I won’t give away any more plot details than that.

If you watch the show, from the opening scene, you will realize that we are dealing with a story that could go just about anywhere. The horror involved in the series is both cosmic and human in nature, and it’s not certain at all which type of terror is more frightening.

The series is executive produced by big names like J.J. Abrams and Jordan Peele. If you have seen the horror hits, Get Out and Us, you will be able to feel Peele’s welcome influence all over this project. It is both grounded in the horrifying reality of Jim Crow laws and the awful people who supported them while still delivering unimaginable horror that cannot be explained by the rational mind.

The main character reflects some of this in his interests, and there are some intriguing conversations about literature at the time. The show is intelligent, and if you are well-read in science fiction and pulp stories of old, this only becomes more enjoyable.

So far, this show is a master class in setting a tone and ratcheting up horror in unexpected ways. The performances of all the main characters are outstanding. Still, in this episode, Jurnee Smollett as Letitia “Leti” Lewis, Jonathan Majors as Atticus Freeman, and Courtney B. Vance as George Freeman shine brightest. They are entirely believable, and as an audience, it’s easy to get wrapped up in their stories.

It is hard to say where the series will go from here, although violent, gory horror is absolutely on the table. The show will undoubtedly continue to explore the dark racist territory of America’s past and intertwine it with things that go bump in the night.

While this is set in the 1950s, the show, like much of the greatest science fiction and horror out there, can reflect and relate to our times in a way that nonfiction cannot. The episode is all the scarier because, in 2020, we know how these things can turn out. This feels like a story that is necessary to be told, and as a bonus, if you love horror, this will knock your socks off.

If you do not have this on your watch list already, add it asap. The next episode releases on Sunday, and I already know what I will be doing that night.

Horrifically yours,

Slick Dungeon