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Saturday, August 2, 2014

Nikolai Bird's Cthulhu - Something in the Mud Was a Slimey, Lovecraftian Joy!

Every now and then, something happens that disrupts the normal flow of events.

Take today's short story review, for example. After discovering an ebook that looked pleasing, my eyes wandered over to another title written by the same author: a very short story (I'm guessing under 18,000 words) with a Lovecraftian theme.

I can't say no to that. Indeed, when it comes to Lovecraft, I have zero self-control. I've read most of H.P. Lovecraft's short stories, I played the Mythos card game, and I even took part in a few Cthulhu based roleplaying game scenarios.

I couldn't resist.

I had to know if this author could do any justice to the world of Lovecraft... so this short story went from 'last ebook on the list' to 'currently reading' in about 3 seconds. This won't happen often. Normally I have better self-control.

But when the Great Old Ones have a hand in things, sometimes I lose it. Just a little.

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Cthulhu: Something in the Mud is a lovecraftian themed horror short story written by Nikolai Bird.

So what's it about?

Four years after the signing of the Armistice that ended WWI, Jack receives a letter from his former Odd Jobs commander, inviting Jack to his summer home for the weekend. Jack gladly accepts and drives to West Wittering, feeling that this little getaway is exactly what he needs. When he arrives, however, he discovers that his former Odd Jobs experience is the only thing that stands between the commander and a powerful evil that no one should ever be exposed to.

Part of me felt that I shouldn't read this. 

A diehard fan of H.P. Lovecraft, I could very easily hold any deviation from from his style against the author. Another part of me, though, was excited. Of course Bird's writing would be very different, but could he pull it off?

Yes, he could. And he did.

Bird stuck to the most important points: vivid imagery, layout of character backgrounds, and a great show of normalcy brought into upheaval. He even placed the story within the proper historical timeline.

But he also made it his own, which is difficult to do when working within the world parameters of an author that has fanatically adoring fans. He deviated from Lovecraft's techniques by showing a bit more than one would normally see in the Cthulhu mythos.

Part of the horror within lovecraftian stories comes from what isn't said. Normally, a deviation like this would cause me to scoff and walk away with my nose in the air.

Fanatical fan, remember?

(I totally wore a Cthulhu for President button during two different election years. Maybe this next election he'll get the winning vote...)

Bird, though, made this work. I didn't feel the need to walk away, ashamed that someone could change Lovecraft's format in this manner. Rather, my eyes stayed on the pages, soaking up each and every word. His style, though different, was effective.

The only problem I had with the story, as strange as this sounds, is that Cthulhu was named twice. In the lovecraftian mythos, even saying the name of a Great Old One has severe consequences. Saying it once, therefore, would have been sufficient - and nerve-wracking. Twice, though, made it feel a little less taboo. Not as important.

But that's just me.

And really, a less avid Lovecraft devotee may not even notice it. Indeed, people who aren't well read in the Cthulhu mythos may actually need that extra reminder of the severity of the situation. I read this story from a vastly different viewpoint than most people, and I recognize that.

One thing is certain: Something in the Mud impressed someone who is hard to satisfy when dealing with the Cthulhu mythos.

That speaks volumes.

Naturally, I'm excited to read the much longer ebook by the same author that I have placed in my reading queue. If his Lovecraft based writing won me over, I can't wait to see what he does with dark fantasy!

Cthulhu: Something in the Mud can be found on Kindle, Nook, and Smashwords, as well as on Scribd, where my eye was drawn to it.

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