Monday, October 7, 2013
recent read; The Burrowers Beneath
The Burrowers Beneath by Brian Lumley
Last year, I read a novelette featuring Titus Crow, and I wanted to read more. Not having The Compleat Crow collection, I opted for the first full novel featuring the occult investigator - The Burrowers Beneath.
The story starts out promising enough, and is loaded with plenty of Lovecraft and Mythos references to make any fan grin. Crow's friend, deMarigny, is the son of the character from "Through the Gates of the Silver Key." The strange clock from that story is now in Crow's possession. There are hints of previous occult adventures of the two men together.
Crow dubs the monsters of the Mythos, "Cthonians." He fears certain Old Ones are burrowing under England. Some mine workers and oil rig workers have had unpleasant encounters. Crow aims to stop the Cthonians, if he can. The Cthonians align to oppose Crow's efforts, employing psychic tricks, men in their thrall, and other terrors. There are a few good horrors as Crow and deMarigny lock horns with the strange creatures.
Things take an odd turn of tone midway through. The localized horror expands to a global threat. Crow and deMarigny join a globe-spanning foundation - the Wilmarth Foundation. The foundation's charter is to battle any and all Cthonians. Their arsenal against the underground Cthonians includes magic, psychics, and oil derricks adapted to exterminate the burrowers.
I think someone at Black Gate said it best in the comments - 'give in and roll with it.' Unfortunately, the global scale leads to detachment from events for the reader. The immediacy is lost.
Also contributing to a detached feeling as the reader - almost the entire last fifth of the book is textbook example of telling instead of showing. Much of the world encompassing dangers and battles with the Cthonians are related to Crow and deMarigny via letters.
The Burrowers Beneath is more pulp horror adventure than truly horrific cosmic terrors, but it is a fun, quick ride if you're in the proper mood.
(note: I set a link to the Kindle version. Be careful. If you are in Amazon looking at the TOR omnibus edition, The Burrowers Beneath/The Transition of Titus Crow (see above) and you switch to the Kindle edition, it brings you to The Burrowers Beneath, but it is NOT the omnibus. The ebooks are each sold separately.)