Tag Archives: Lovecraftian fiction

Amy Caudill’s Reviews : Sherlock Holmes and the Miskatonic Monstrosities

Sherlock Holmes and the Miskatonic Monstrosities by James Lovegrove

Sherlock Holmes and the Miskatonic Monstrosities (The Cthulhu Casebooks, #2) by

James Lovegrove

Amy Caudill‘s review

In the second volume of author James Lovegrove’s trilogy The Cthulhu Casebooks, he once again combines the characters from the classic author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle with creatures and situations from another classic author, H.P. Lovecraft.

The second book opens approximately fifteen years after the conclusion of the events of the first, as the author shares a somewhat edited manuscript he supposedly inherited from Lovecraft himself, which was written by the real Dr. John Watson.  As before, the text is told in one continuous linear story line, and bears only passing resemblance to Watson’s “fictional” published stories, which are supposedly both a source of income for Watson and Holmes and a sanitized outlet for Watson to share the horrific events the duo have endured.

In “reality,” the “true” events Watson and Holmes have participated in and resolved are much more terrifying than dealing with thieves, murderers and forgers. They are the main champions in a very small selective group of men who are aware that the Old Gods and Gods from Outer Realms are alive, present, and capable of enacting and reacting to events and beings on Earth.  They remain dedicated to not only thwarting and containing this evil, but protecting the world at large from knowledge and panic over its existence.

The first and third parts of this narration are the usual for Holmes and Watson; an event causes a spark of concern, an investigation that leads into danger, a clue appearing at an opportune moment, and a confrontation that may become deadly. 

The second part of the story is actually a journal read aloud by the heroes that was written by Zachariah Conroy, depicting his own encounters with the arcane through a fellow student and colleague, Nathaniel Whateley, at the fictional Miskatonic University, an Ivy League school in Massachusetts. Whateley possesses a copy of the same book that Holmes has fiercely guarded, that allows him to conjure and control various creatures of the supernatural order.  Unfortunately, Whateley does not possess Holmes’ strength of will and moral constitution, and Conroy is too involved in his experiments to understand the true nature of the beast they will release, until it consumes him.

In the end, we see a return of a supposedly dead body-jumping nemesis, as two lives are forever destroyed, and a great threat upon humanity is held back, but for how long?

This novel, as with the first, is faithful to the characterizations of Holmes and Watson while placing them into situations Doyle never envisioned, and at the same time contains enough Lovecraftian horror to satisfy diehard fans of that genre.  Overall a well done and engaging story, that I give five stars.  I will definitely check out the third volume of The Cthulhu Casebooks in the future, and perhaps some of James Lovegrove’s other Sherlock Holmes stories.


Amy Caudill’s Reviews : Sherlock Holmes and the Shadwell Shadows

Sherlock Holmes and the Shadwell Shadows by James Lovegrove

Sherlock Holmes and the Shadwell Shadows (The Cthulhu Casebooks, #1) by  James Lovegrove

Amy Caudill‘s review

In one of the more creative takes on the stories originally penned by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, James Lovegrove combines the classic Holmes with stories from another period author, H.P. Lovecraft, for a detective horror fiction that pays tribute to both genres.

In the forward to The Shadwell Shadows, the first book of the trilogy The Cthulu Casebooks, the author claims to be a distant relative of Lovecraft, who “inherited” these manuscripts from his estate.  He has decided to share with the world the unbelievable and potentially panic-inducing tales as a public service, letting the readers make up their own minds as to validity.

He portray a very different first meeting for Holmes and Watson, where Watson’s war wounds came from a brush with the supernatural, and Holmes’ early cases have already demonstrated that there are inexplicable events happening in Victorian London.  He states, as the narrator in Watson’s voice, that the true events that happened during Holmes and Watson’s long association were too controversial, too fantastical, to bring to public knowledge.

The basic plot of this volume revolves around a number of mysterious deaths, mostly of indigents and outcasts of society, that Scotland Yard spend little effort on and so fail to connect.  However, Holmes does find a connection, and follows it, along with his new roommate Watson, to an opium den run by a wealthy immigrant who has delved into studies of dark rituals and old gods that are all but forgotten in polite society.  This is only the jump-off point to awareness of monsters in the dark, magic rituals and horrors that Holmes and Watson would rather unlearn, but cannot run from, because there are other lives at stake.

While this book makes references to a number of “classic” Holmes cases, the contents of this volume are written not as a collection of stories, but rather as one long continuous tale.  The epilogue also mentions the subjects of the next two volumes, hinting that this collection is one long tale of the “true” events of their joined career.

Lovegrove has done a credible job imitating Doyle’s style and characters, while placing them into situations where the paranormal is a reality that can be seductive and dangerous.  I really can’t say I’ve read much Lovecraft for myself, though I am aware of his creations from various other sources, from popular movies and other fiction.  I believe Lovegrove’s allusions to Lovecraft’s work are just as meticulous as is his borrowing of the Holmesian mythos.

I thought this a very interesting read and would recommend it to fans of Sherlock Holmes, Victorian era-fiction and classic horror tales alike.  I award this book four stars and intend to seek out the next work in the series.