“We are such stuff as dreams are made on; and our little life is rounded with a sleep.”
“In his house at R’lyeh dead Cthulhu waits dreaming.”
Howard Phillips Lovecraft.
In the same putrid vein as Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, Shakespeare v. Lovecraft slithers hideously onto the literary mash-up scene, whispering of cosmic horrors and eldritch tales whilst espousing sweet soliloquys and profoundly contemplating mankind’s place in the universe.
Prospero, driven dangerously insane by prolonged exposure to the dread Necronomicon, makes a terrible pact with the titanic alien beast known only as Cthulhu. Now only his enchantress daughter Miranda and a handful of history’s greatest heroes are all that stand between humanity and blasphemous eternal subjugation.
It’s a bloodbath of Shakespearean proportions as Cthulhu and his eldritch companions come at our protagonists from all manner of strange geometric angles in a hideous and savage battle for supremacy.
Let me begin by saying I’m a fan of both Shakespeare and Lovecraft and I have read a significant chunk of both of their catalogs. And I’ve read several of the literary mashups, so I’m familiar with that new genre as well. Why I feel the need to establish my literary cred is kind of beyond me, but there you go. So when I saw Shakespeare vs. Lovecraft, I thought to myself, “Self, this seems right up your alley!” And Self nodded sagely and waited for me to get it a copy.
I enjoyed this book, but also felt a bit let down by it. I thought the entire enterprise was very well done: the voice was spot on, as was the language–both Shakespearean and Lovecraftian–and the plot of the action moved along at a swift pace. Actually, that was one of my main issues–there wasn’t enough of it. I was expecting a much longer book, especially considering the rich backlog of character and story the author had to draw from, so I was surprised when we only got two major battle scenes. There were other, smaller scenes of delightful carnage mixed in, so the pace wasn’t lagging, but I felt like there should have been a more climactic battle at the end, especially when the naval battle with Dagon was such a set piece scene (and occurred early in the novel).
The writing is vivid and engaging, although I will say if you are not a fan of horror or gore, stay away from this novel. There is blood and body parts aplenty. The Shakespearean characters are used to good effect, with some surprising twists on old favorites (Romeo and Lady Macbeth, I’m looking at you).
The one thing that truly didn’t work for me was the cover. The title indicates it is a horror comedy mash-up, which I have no problem with. But the cover didn’t work for me at all. I think because it was a bit more cartoonish than what I was used to, I was expecting it to be more of a straight up comedy (yeah, I know, Shakespeare and Lovecraft–isn’t that funny enough?), whereas it read more literary to me. I think a cover more like Sense, Sensibility, and Sea Monsters might have worked more in its favor.
Three Jennifer Lawrences.