Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Shadows Bend - David Barbour

Shadows Bend - David Barbour

H. P. Lovecraft and Robert E. Howard vs Cthulhu

What the hell else do you need me to tell you?

If you do, and you are perhaps more familiar with The Chinatown Death Cloud Peril (also featuring Lovecraft), then the aforementioned is very much in the tradition of this book, except Shadows Bend does not suffer from the sometimes tedious diversions in the other book.

Lovecraft, it appears, is in serious need of help, and there are only two men he believes are likely to be of use, or believe him, so:

"Lovecraft turned away and took the three steps down into Cross Plains, Texas, this unwitting way station. It wasn't much of a town, just a place where some roads and power lines seemed to converge for no apparent reason. The few buildings-storefronts and professional addresses-all faced each other, as if to keep the reality of the empty landscape at bay."

"The man's flesh seemed nearly blue against his soiled white clothes, and he seemed to have been out in the storm for quite a while, or perhaps he was terrified of the gun, because he was shivering so violently it seemed unlikely he could keep his hands up. He had an odd expression on his face, but Howard couldn't tell if it was terror or some weird and maniacal amusement. His lips moved hesitantly for a split second, and then, in an entirely unconvincing attempt at a Southern drawl, he said, "Howdy there, Two-Gun Bob."

Howard and his father looked at each other. The Doctor's expression suggested he thought they had an escapee from some asylum, but Howard's eyes suddenly went wide, and his jaw swung open. "Lovecraft!" he said. "How did-What in the Sam Hill are you doin' out here?"

He does tell him, about the artifact of power with him, and the fact that they could also use the advice of Clark Ashton Smith. So, with the aid of Lovecraft's father's insistence, it is a Weird Tales roadtrip.

"Howard grinned, breaking the tension. "Oh, come on, HP. You don't really think Smith found the Necronomicon.” “No, not precisely. The original is long lost, as you know. But this is surely a translation of the mad Arab's text. I am absolutely convinced of it after the events I've experienced over the past several days."

Gaining the help of a woman along the way, they arrive to discover:
"Smith noticed their puzzled expressions...he unwrapped the bundle and there it was, the mythic book come to life. The binding was a lightly tanned vellum like material, but clearly not vellum. It was stamped in a weathered crimson color, the letters embossed so long ago their depth was nearly gone NECRONOMICON and Abdul Alhazred.
Lovecraft ran his fingers over the book, tentatively stroking the cracked cover. "I still find its authenticity rather dubious. What did the dealer say?"

"It's bound in human skin. Slivers of bone in the spine, and the bookmark is made of bleached human hair."

Lovecraft quickly drew his hand away. "And how would an antiquarian bookseller establish all this?"

"He happens to be the son of a prominent mortician, HP."

Minions of Cthulhu have dogged them on their trip to see Klarkash-ton, and a confrontation awaits.

3.5 out of 5

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