by Brett J. Talley
Words, my young friend. Words are all the power in the Universe. It was by words God created the Earth, the heavens and Hell. Is it any surprise that a book be the most powerful force in the world?
Carter Weston, a young student from Miskatonik University, is dispatched to recover a book reputed to be one of the earliest surviving manuscripts of occult power. On his journey, the student encounters an unlikely group at an inn and each of them tells the student his troubled story:
1. A group of trappers finds themselves in the wilderness contending with a creature, the Wendigo, that has no place in our world. The creature can’t exist on its own, but instead inhabits the body of one of the travelers.
2. Two friends decide to travel the world together, but instead of seeing the sights that many search out, such as Rome and Paris, the two journey to areas much less traveled. When they reach an impasse at a mysterious monastery, they decide to stay for a few days in hopes the pass can be cleared or another route found. As they suspect, the monastery is more than it seems.
3. A student is granted his degree early in order to transfer to a mental hospital to further his study. When the police show up asking about his former professor, a man now thought to be connected with murder, the young doctor must uncover the truth.
4. The frame of the story resumes, but as the student wonders where to search next, a weathered ship’s captain appears and convinces the student to accompany him and hear his story.
After the fourth and final story is told, the student knows something of what must be done, and he sets out on an adventure that will likely end in his death even if he’s successful in saving the world from annihilation.
Lovecraft’s writing is considered cold and clinical, and to the uninitiated his style is difficult to penetrate until you’ve made a strong push at the work. This is significantly warmer and more accessible—just a couple of pages and you’re in.
The book’s an unqualified success. Its pacing is fantastic. Its characters are interesting and compelling, horrified at the situation in which they’ve found themselves but determined to do whatever they can to save us all. And, as with the best mythos stories, its full of occult reference and power and deals with the final annihilation of the universe.
That Which Should Not Be is a wonderful entry in Lovecraft’s world and an astounding accomplishment from a first time author.
“The Book seeks its owner. It calls you now. Don’t you hear it?”