Arkham Horror Fiction Reviewed
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At this point, I think I'm probably signed on for the full run of Arkham Horror novellas, because I'm really enjoying them. I've read and reviewed all of them so far, and I'll add the others as they come.

I've also written reviews of all of the mass paperback format Arkham Horror novels, and I've brought these in as their own list entries. Likewise, the Investigators of Arkham Horror book and the FFG-issued Art of the Cthulhu Mythos. The item entries in this list are for promotional game components that were released with the books, in all but a few cases.

I'm not much drawn to either Arkham Horror or Eldritch Horror, but I love Elder Sign and Arkham Horror: The Card Game and Call of Cthulhu: The Card Game. I have read the entire Lovecraft corpus and a great deal of other pulp-era and latter-day Yog-Sothothery. I am a fan of the jauniste fiction of Chambers' The King in Yellow and later work inspired by it, as well as the weird fiction of Arthur Machen. My favorite authors mining the Cthulhvian vein in recent decades include Richard Tierney, Ruthanna Emrys, Charles Stross, Caitlyn Kiernan, Brian Stableford, and Don Webb.
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1. Board Game: Voice of the Mummy [Average Rating:7.84 Overall Rank:12629]
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Wrath of N'kai - by Josh Reynolds (2020)

Wrath of N'kai is the first of a new series of licensed novels from publisher Aconyte Books set in the Arkham Horror game milieu. Unlike the recent investigator novellas from the game publisher Fantasy Flight, this one is at full novel length. It also lacks an established player character from the game for its protagonist. Instead, it has international adventuress and "gentlewoman thief" Countess Alessandra Zorzi as the principal investigator of the story. She is assisted by plucky trans-man cabbie Pepper Kelly. Neither of these have appeared in the games as far as I know. But the setting is unmistakably the Arkham of the games: various player characters do appear, such as Harvey Walters, Preston Fairmont, Tommy Muldoon, and Daisy Walker. Organizations like the O'Bannion gang and the Silver Twilight Lodge are also important to the story, which takes place entirely within the city limits of Arkham, starting with Alessandra's arrival by train.

Despite ample stigmata of the Arkham Files universe, the narrative continuity of this story has in one notable case been better conformed to the original pulp-era literature. The underearth kingdom of K'n-yan is here given as lying beneath Oklahoma as it does in "The Mound" (1940) by Zealia Bishop and H.P. Lovecraft. The game designers had transferred K'n-yan to Mexico in the adventure Heart of the Elders for the Forgotten Age cycle of Arkham Horror: The Card Game. The plot of Wrath of N'kai centers on a scrimmage for a mummy recovered from K'n-yan by a Miskatonic University archaeological expedition.

Author Josh Reynolds is a veteran at writing fiction for game universes such as the various Warhammer worlds, and he has also written some occult adventure in his "Tales of the Royal Occultist" novels. His reading in the relevant literature is signaled by clever allusions like Alessandra's mentor Nuth (lifted from a story by Lord Dunsany about a thief). Wrath of N'kai has a lively pace, and I often read multiple short chapters at a single sitting. It is definitely more pulp adventure than weird horror, despite the Lovecraftian praeternatural elements. The prose isn't highly polished, but it is engaging. I enjoyed it, and I would be willing to read a sequel about Alessandra's adventures beyond Arkham.

(No game promo item was associated with the publication and sale of this novel.)
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2. Board Game: Artist: The Game [Average Rating:7.00 Unranked]
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The Last Ritual - by S.A. Sidor (unreleased, scheduled for November 2020)

A surrealist commune just outside Arkham? You know I'll be there.

No game promo is anticipated in connection with this Aconyte Arkham Horror novel.
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3. Board Game: Arkham Horror: The Card Game – Gloria Goldberg Promo Cards [Average Rating:0.00 Unranked] [Average Rating:0.00 Unranked]
Board Game: Arkham Horror: The Card Game – Gloria Goldberg Promo Cards
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Dark Revelations - by Amanda Downum (2020)

I've pre-ordered this one. Review to come!
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4. Board Game: Arkham Horror: The Card Game – Dexter Drake Promo Cards [Average Rating:8.41 Unranked] [Average Rating:8.41 Unranked]
Board Game: Arkham Horror: The Card Game – Dexter Drake Promo Cards
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Blood of Baalshandor - by Richard Lee Byers (2020)

"I had high hopes for this one, because the Dexter Drake chapter in The Investigators of Arkham Horror was my favorite from that book. Dex is a WW I veteran and a successful stage magician as 'Drake the Great.' His childhood interest in magic has led him to both his career in legerdermain and an interest in actual sorcery. The Blood of Baalshandor centers on his relationship with his 'lovely assistant' Molly Maxwell ('the Exotic Morgana'), with conflict generated by his coming out of the closet with respect to his occultist beliefs and the phenomena that she is then subjected to. The early part of the book has a nice Ninth Gate (i.e. Club Dumas) vibe, as Dex and Molly attend an underground auction of occult books and paraphernalia in Arkham."

(Click through for a full review of book and promo cards.)
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5. Board Game: Arkham Horror: The Card Game – Silas Marsh Promo Cards [Average Rating:8.45 Unranked] [Average Rating:8.45 Unranked]
Board Game: Arkham Horror: The Card Game – Silas Marsh Promo Cards
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The Deep Gate - by Chris A. Jackson (2018)

"Author Chris Jackson is an old hand at nautical storytelling and fantasy, but an admitted greenhorn when it comes to horror writing, and this experience base shows in the final product."

(Click through for a full review of book and promo cards.)
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6. Board Game: Arkham Horror: The Card Game – Carolyn Fern Promo Cards [Average Rating:8.09 Unranked] [Average Rating:8.09 Unranked]
Board Game: Arkham Horror: The Card Game – Carolyn Fern Promo Cards
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To Fight the Black Wind - by Jennifer Brozek (2018)

I already like Carolyn from Elder Sign and Feeders from Within (see below). What's more, I now find that author Brozek also wrote the essay on "The Sexual Attraction of the Lovecraftian Universe" in the anthology Cthulhurotica.

"Despite the incidental presence of Arkham Horror characters, this story has less in common with the other novellas in its series than it does with The Dream-Quest of Vellitt Boe, a short novel by Kij Johnson published a couple of years earlier. In both stories the protagonist is a woman and there is an important focus on the heroine's relationship to a younger woman who helps to define the heroic task. Johnson offers a little explicit commentary on her own feminine appropriation of the Dreamlands, relative to their prior status under the domination of masculine authors and characters, while Brozek simply tells a story centered on women in the Dreamlands. (Both books pass the Bechdel test with flying colors, of course.)"

(Click through for a full review of book and promo cards.)
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Board Game: Arkham Horror: The Card Game – Roland Banks Promo Cards
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The Dirge of Reason - by Graeme Davis (2018)

"Fittingly, the tone of this narrative is more X-Files than HPL. Settings range from the Arkham woods to the Nightingale Club speakeasy to the Miskatonic University campus to the patient ward at the Arkham Asylum. Other regular characters from the Arkham Files featured in the tale include Leo De Luca and Professor Warren Rice.

"As with other novellas in this series, this one includes an alternate-art character card and two 'replacement' signature cards for use in Arkham Horror: The Card Game. Roland Banks is a character in the original core set for the game, so there's nothing new about the character but the art--which is rather nice, with Roland backlit by flames like he is on the book cover. The signature cards are quite interesting, though. The replacement for Roland's .38 Special asset is a clue-finding event called Mysteries Remain, which rather pales by comparison to the gun. But the replacement signature weakness is the titular Dirge of Reason, which can actually be helpful in the use of Roland's .38 Special and in dealing with his original signature weakness Cover Up. My next Roland deck is sure to use the double-signature option to add the replacement cards without removing the original signatures."

(Click through for full review of book and promo cards.)
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Board Game: Arkham Horror: The Card Game – Norman Withers Promo Cards
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Ire of the Void - by Richard Lee Byers (2017)

"The chief background literature for Ire of the Void is Frank Belknap Long's "The Hounds of Tindalos" (1929) and its progeny. Author Richard Lee Byers goes a little way toward establishing the enigmatic 'Tindalos' as the country of the Hounds' origin, although he leaves a trace of ambivalence about that identification. ...

"I dismissed the promotional Arkham Horror: The Card Game cards included in the previous volume of this series as adding little to the value of the book. In contrast, Norman Withers is an investigator character for whom cards have not otherwise been published, and he is an exciting and distinctive addition to the game. His deck parameters have him evolving from the Seeker class into the Mystic one, and his draw pile keeps its top card exposed. I haven't yet played with a Norman deck, but I'm very much looking forward to it."

(Click through for full review of book and promo cards.)
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Board Game: Arkham Horror: The Card Game – Jenny Barnes Promo Cards
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Hour of the Huntress - by Dave Gross (2017)

"Jenny is a young sophisticate who has been living as an ex-pat in Paris, and has returned to the US in search of her younger sister Izzy (Isabelle) after a worrying interruption in their correspondence. The story includes Jenny's acquisition of her trademark twin .45 pistols as she picks up the traces of what appears to be a murderous secret cult. ...

"The book came with a tiny suite of cards to provide some additional options for the Jenny Barnes character to players of Arkham Horror: The Card Game. In terms of game efficiency, these seem slightly inferior to the ones that were originally issued in the Dunwich Legacy expansion. Still, they do add some variety. I've heard completist game collectors say that they felt obliged somehow to buy the book just in order to get these cards, and I'll say they're not worth the price of the book. However, if you are a player of one of these games and like the Jenny Barnes investigator already, I would recommend the book as a fun read in itself that should enhance your affection for the game character. Readers uninterested in the games may still get some real pleasure out of the story, if they are willing to allow a bit of heroism to intrude on the cosmic despair of pristine yog-sothothery."

(Click through for full review of book and promo cards.)
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10. Board Game: Arkham Horror: The Card Game – Marie Lambeau Promo Cards [Average Rating:8.00 Unranked] [Average Rating:8.00 Unranked]
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The Investigators of Arkham Horror - edited by Katrina Ostrander (2016)

I have argued (unsuccessfully, via database submission) that this book should be considered a game accessory. As a collection of weird fiction, it is passable at best. But as a "bootstrapping" instrument to orient players to their characters in the Arkham Files games, it is excellent. Each investigator has a vignette, typically four or five pages in length, to supply them with psychological orientation and biographical details. The book is huge, full of art reproduced from the games at a more generous scale on glossy paper, with a sewn binding to keep the thing together. (It's so heavy that glue binding would surely break in short order.) The cover art is beautiful, but there's no dust jacket.

Maybe you wouldn't bother to read four pages of character background for an evening's play of Elder Sign or Eldritch Horror. But for the multi-session campaign play of Arkham Horror: The Card Game (which requires out-of-play time for deck construction anyhow), the sort of extra consideration given here to individual investigators is terrific.

This book is obviously intended to supply the framework for a narrative canon, and several of the episodes here have provided points of departure for the subsequent novellas. I was especially gratified by some of the stories for investigators who have had little exposure in other Arkham Files fiction, such as Minh Thi Phan and William Yorick. I think my favorite story for the story's sake out of the dozens here was the one about Dexter Drake.
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11. Board Game: Arkham Horror: Oliver Grayson (Ally) [Average Rating:7.40 Unranked] [Average Rating:7.40 Unranked]
Board Game: Arkham Horror: Oliver Grayson (Ally)
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Ghouls of the Miskatonic - by Graham McNeill (2011)

McNeill's Ghouls of the Miskatonic is the first book in a trilogy premised on the "Arkham Horror" Lovecraftian gaming franchise. Derlethian might be a better adjective, in that both the typical gaming dynamic and the flavor of this book are closer to a Derleth pastiche like The Trail of Cthulhu than they are to HPL's own Yog-Sothothery.

I haven't played Arkham Horror itself, but I have played the lighter-weight spinoff Elder Sign, which I find quite enjoyable. Two of the characters available to players in Elder Sign are featured in Ghouls of the Miskatonic (Amanda Sharpe and Kate Winthrop), and these two--and probably others--are also Arkham Horror characters. I was a little surprised at the extent to which my interest in these characters was enhanced by prior game play. The novel also makes reference to Miskatonic University personalities established in the literary originals of the "Mythos": Henry Armitage, Laban Shrewsbury, and others.

Ghouls of the Miskatonic is set in Arkham, Massachusetts, in 1926. That places it in the year following the main events described in Lovecraft's "The Call of Cthulhu" (but before the narrator's discovery of them). McNeill puts a lot of emphasis on Prohibition and other features of 1920s America that aren't as evident in the "native" accounts of Lovecraft and his peers. Some of this works well. There is an occasional clinker in diction or dialect, and although anachronisms are mostly kept at bay, the assumed co-ed character of Miskatonic University is a little off-kilter, as other reviewers have noted.

The story starts off from every which way; at least half a dozen seemingly independent plot strands are brought together over the course of twenty chapters. In the process, the extremely diverse cast of heroes are brought into social relation with each other as well, so that by the book's conclusion there is a little band of defenders: three students, an anthropologist, a scholar of ancient religion, a journalist, a photographer, a Pinkerton, and a hoodlum. As the first volume of the "Dark Waters Trilogy," I actually had to wonder if this wasn't programmed by McNeill on the model of The Fellowship of the Ring!

The narrative is all provided in a pulpish third-person omniscient style, and while the characters' feelings are described extensively enough, there's not much to draw the reader in to share those feelings. A good helping of graphic violence is available, for the benefit of those who are drawn to the combat element in the games, I suppose. The cover of the book is both attractive and a clinically accurate depiction of the scene described on page 200. The volume does provide a plot resolution, while leaving a few key questions unanswered, allowing the demand for a sequel to be posed in the epilogue. It was a fast read, and I've already acquired the second book--though I'm not too proud to admit that a contributing motive for the latter was to secure the proof of purchase that would entitle me to a promotional component to be added to my copy of the Elder Sign game.
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12. Board Game: Elder Sign: The Log of the Persephone – Promotional Adventure Card [Average Rating:7.66 Unranked] [Average Rating:7.66 Unranked]
Board Game: Elder Sign: The Log of the Persephone – Promotional Adventure Card
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Bones of the Yopasi - by Graham McNeill (2012)

The second volume of McNeill's Dark Waters Trilogy set in the Arkham Horror milieu is an improvement on his first, in both style and substance. The first was passable, but the second was better. I actually got the impression that he had been reading some Lovecraft in between writing the two books, an impression bolstered by inclusion of features like an homage to the non-"Mythos" HPL story "The Outsider."

Ghouls of the Miskatonic (the first book) was set mostly in Arkham, and in its sequel the focus transitions to Kingsport. At the same time, the plot pulls ever closer to the events described in "The Call of Cthulhu," with Brown University professor George Gammell Angell becoming part of the team of investigators. The integration of various Dreamlands concepts is done in a way that meshes fairly artfully with the Cthulhu-oriented main plot, and there are still a couple of conspicuous episodes (including the final climax) of gory horror. There's also some further exploitation of the "Arkham Horror" game characters, with author Gloria Goldberg receiving a conspicuous introduction.

At the end of this book there is a plot twist that I had been expecting since fairly early in the preceding volume, so it certainly didn't come as a surprise. I'm not sure how McNeill was to have done a better job setting it up, but the whole thing was pretty transparent to me.
Spoiler (click to reveal)
On page 87, Alexander Templeton refers to his "researches into the attempts of that loathsome Englishman, Aleister Crowley, to obtain a number of occult artifacts." But at the end of the book, Templeton is revealed to be an arch-cultist of Cthulhu who has been full of deceit the whole time, which certainly throws into question the significance of his appraisal of Crowley. Note also: In keeping with the remark in my review of the previous volume that McNeill appeared to be using Tolkien as a model, Templeton plays Saruman to Angell's Gandalf. I will be fully vindicated if the third book features the Miskatonic co-eds carrying an evil artifact to its destruction in some benighted zone of sorcery.

As with the first book, the cover art is very attractive and fitting. Game publisher Fantasy Flight does fine presentation, especially when it comes to Yog-Sothothery. Purchasers of this book were supplied with info to order Elder Sign: The Log of the Persephone – Promotional Adventure Card.
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13. Board Game: Elder Sign: Omens of the Deep [Average Rating:7.78 Unranked] [Average Rating:7.78 Unranked]
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Dweller in the Deep - by Graham McNeill (2014)

Since I started reading the Dark Waters Trilogy of Arkham Horror novels by Graham McNeill, I've also read some of his Warhammer 40,000 fiction, which I enjoyed better, despite my greater appetite for Yog-Sothothery than Goth space opera. I think this result may be a function of the techniques that McNeill uses to establish setting. While details that cry out "This is an armpit of the galaxy in the fortieth millennium!" are all well and good, I sort of tire of constant reminders that "This is America in the 1920s!" I already have a pretty good idea of what 1920s America was like, and if the author will be so kind as to avoid anachronisms, that doesn't need to be constantly re-established.

One setting-emphasizing device that McNeill used repeatedly in Dweller in the Deep, the final volume of Dark Waters, was to provide cameos of historical celebrities, such as Charles Lindbergh (91 ff.) and Ernest Hemingway (218 ff.). These are coyly introduced by their first names only. Such stunts do not help the reader experience any immersion in the narrative, and this story is not significant or clever enough to support a more distanced engagement. Even worse are some of the anachronistic allusions, such as having a character quote 2001: A Space Odyssey, "My God, it's full of stars!" (238)

I speculated after reading the earlier volumes that the Dark Waters author took significant inspiration from The Lord of the Rings, and while these books are certainly not a mechanical "re-theme" of Tolkien's work, they do indeed retain throughout a similar pacing and structure, with a diverse "fellowship" broken up into numerous paths and challenges contributing to a common quest.

McNeill has carefully synchronized the events of his trilogy with Lovecraft's original story "The Call of Cthulhu," so that the showdown at the end of the books is a different perspective on the same temporary emergence of Cthulhu from the ocean depths, giving extra rationales for his appearance and withdrawal alike. While I'm not sure that extra rationales help to emphasize the cosmic indifferentism that continues to feature even in Dweller in the Deep as the philosophical framework of Yog-Sothothery, still, I found it a neat trick to line up the chronology so well. Another well-played feature of the books, however minor, was the fondness of the foremost protagonist for Jules Verne's 20,000 Leagues under the Sea.

Wrapping up, I feel an obligation to compare this trilogy of Arkham Horror novels with the other one (published thus far): The Lord of Nightmares, by Alan Bligh and John French. I think that McNeill's trilogy are superior Arkham Horror books, i.e. ones that faithfully reflect the game elements in novel form. Bligh and French, on the other hand, have written the better weird horror books, ones that are genuinely outre and chilling. The Dark Waters Trilogy, despite some admirable features and fine moments, never really rises above the level of pastiche, while The Lord of Nightmares Trilogy seems to have its own horrific center of gravity.
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14. Board Game: Arkham Horror: Dance of the Damned (Mythos) [Average Rating:7.00 Unranked] [Average Rating:7.00 Unranked]
Board Game: Arkham Horror: Dance of the Damned (Mythos)
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Dance of the Damned - by Alan Bligh (2011)

Here's another novel rooted in the Arkham Horror gaming milieu of pulp-era Yog-Sothothery. The prose is not always good. In fact, it can be pretty awful: "He hefted the heavy shotgun onto his shoulder. Pausing to turn the light off, he cursed once and left it. Better to light a candle, as they say" (301). The book is littered with eggcorns and misplaced apostrophes. But author Alan Bligh cultivates some fine moral ambivalence in his characters, and his story is genuinely intriguing and scary. I read the closing arc of the book with real excitement, and found the ending satisfying.

Like fellow Arkham Horror novelist Graham McNeill, Bligh divides his action among locations in Arkham, New York City, and Kingsport, and both authors deploy the terrible old man of H.P. Lovecraft's eponymous tale as a character in the last location. Of the two, I found Bligh's old man to be more engaging and better woven into the fabric of the story.

Although there seemed to be a lot of different plots at the outset (partly resulting from a demand of the gaming novel genre, to involve multiple identifiable protagonists from the games), Bligh succeeded in pulling them together for a single coherent crisis with its resolution shrouded in mystery.

Featured investigator: Tony Morgan
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15. Board Game: Elder Sign: The Hand of Solace – Promotional Adventure Card [Average Rating:7.52 Unranked] [Average Rating:7.52 Unranked]
Board Game: Elder Sign: The Hand of Solace – Promotional Adventure Card
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The Lies of Solace - by John French (2012)

Although it is billed as "Book Two of the Lord of Nightmares Trilogy," Lies of Solace has a different author and no shared characters or continuity of events with Book One (Dance of the Damned). Both are set in the Arkham Horror milieu, and the prospect of a third volume, co-written by the initially independent authors of the first two, suggests that there will be a convergence of the plot lines begun separately. In any case, there is no reason to prefer reading these two in either sequence, or to think that either will illuminate the other as it stands.

Of the five Arkham Horror novels I've read, this one has the least familiar characters with respect to the gaming materials. It is also, I think, the grisliest. There's something particularly cinematic about the horror here, although it's not restricted to a visual channel. While set in the 1920s Arkham milieu, the story uses tropes developed in horror more recent than that of the pulp era. None of the characters seemed terrifically easy to sympathize with, but their nightmare experiences are vividly drawn.

Purchasers of this book were supplied with info to order Elder Sign: The Hand of Solace – Promotional Adventure Card.
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16. Board Game: Call of Cthulhu: The Card Game – That Which Consumes Asylum Pack [Average Rating:6.96 Unranked] [Average Rating:6.96 Unranked]
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The Hungering God - by Alan Bligh and John French (2013)

This book is the Hegelian synthesis of the two prior volumes in its trilogy: Dance of the Damned, which featured the Legion of Rapture cult, and The Lies of Solace with its kindred the Hand of Solace. Both cults continue on after metamorphoses in The Hungering God, and the rather similar structures of the earlier books are put to good use. In this strange little series, it appears that the authors wrote the earlier volumes in parallel, and then brought the two plot-lines together for a finale.

Despite the basis for these books in the settings and characters of the Arkham Horror gaming franchise (itself erected on the foundation of a Derlethian Cthulhu Mythos), neither place nor person is left as an unchanging piece of the story in this final segment. The telling is full of dreams, hallucinations, and disruptions of the continuity of space-time and personal identity, so that readers may be rather bewildered in efforts to follow the plot. Given the conceit (introduced forcefully in The Hand of Solace) that the External Powers at stake could rewrite a prior course of events, I began to suspect that the end of this trilogy would offer an "explanation" for the absence of Arkham and Miskatonic country from today's geography. I was wrong, but not as wrong as many of the book's characters become.

Strangely, while women investigators were central to both of the prior volumes, they are no longer center stage in this one. A new character Grace Ziolkowski (a physician at Arkham Sanitarium) takes their place to a minor extent, while the male characters of the previous books (Charles Raker, Professor Walters, Doctor Fields, Tony Morgan) provide the continuity.

On the whole, I am impressed with the work of Bligh and French in creating a multi-volume narrative out of Yog-Sothothery for which the paradigmatic form is the short story.
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17. Board Game: Call of Cthulhu: The Card Game – Screams from Within Asylum Pack [Average Rating:7.07 Unranked] [Average Rating:7.07 Unranked]
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Feeders from Within - by Peter J. Evans (2013)

Fantasy Flight Games has published two trilogies set in the Arkham Horror gaming milieu of 1920s Yog-Sothothery, but Feeders from Within is a standalone novel in the same setting, also using characters from the games. The principal protagonists here are drifting veteran Mark Harrigan, psychologist Carolyn Fern, and whistleblower cultist Diana Stanley. A few of Lovecraft's own characters appear or enjoy mentions, most notably Dr. Henry Armitage, Miskatonic University librarian. With respect to the outré horrors they face, the book uses a synthesis of Lovecraft, Chambers, and Smith that has been established as canonical "mythos" in the game context.

The redoubtable fungus from Yuggoth is a prime culprit in this novel, and the story does indeed take on much of the paranoid mood of its Lovecraftian progenitor "The Whisperer in Darkness." It is a fast read, with the ERB-cum-Hollywood sort of action story arc that builds to a final confrontation with ... (that would be telling). Author Evans accomplishes the--in my opinion, most important--task of making the game characters interesting.

While not a high literary accomplishment, I found Feeders from Within to be compellingly savory textual junk food at the very least. The only real disappointment for me was Stephen Somers' cover art, which, although it still accurately reflects the book's contents (a scene from the prologue), didn't seem up to the standard set by Anders Finér with the other Arkham Horror novel covers.
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Board Game Accessory: Call of Cthulhu: The Card Game – Alternate Art Glaaki
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The Sign of Glaaki - by Steven Saville (2013)

Although this novel is published as a supplement to the Arkham Horror games franchise, it only includes one Arkham Horror character, and that in a minor supporting role: Joe Diamond the P.I. The central characters of the novel are in fact historical figures: the young English WWI veteran Dennis Wheatley (prior to his days as an author) and escapologist Harry Houdini. Additionally, the screen actor Max Schreck has a part in the story, and it seems as though the meta-cinematic film Shadow of the Vampire (2000) had more than a little influence on the plot of the novel.

Despite the presence of Ramsey Campbell's ancient god Glaaki in the book's title, the god and its cult as represented here have little detail in common with "The Inhabitant of the Lake." Glaaki is still in a lake, but has been transposed from the Severn Valley in England to Dunwich, Massachusetts. The Dunwich setting notwithstanding, there are no explicit allusions to the events of Lovecraft's "Dunwich Horror," even when the investigators visit Professor Armitage at the Miskatonic University Library in Arkham.

The story uses many conventions of the murder mystery genre in addition to its horror elements, and these are fairly effective at moving the plot along. The disappearance of a movie actress and the murder of her replacement are--at first--the central subjects of investigation. What might have been a tame denouement in the final chapter pivots the focus back from mystery to horror.
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19. Board Game: Modern Art [Average Rating:7.40 Overall Rank:226]
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The Art of H.P. Lovecraft's Cthulhu Mythos - by Pat Harrigan (2006)

This book's title isn't as precise as it might be. A more accurate title would be The Art of Cthulhu-Themed Games. And specifically, this collection is drawn all from the "heavy" end of the Cthulhu gaming pool. It doesn't cover lighter, comical fare (such as Cthulhu Gloom, Munchkin Cthulhu, The Stars Are Right, Cthulhu Fluxx, etc.). Instead, it is all taken from the games published by Chaosium (The Call of Cthulhu RPG) and Fantasy Flight Games (Arkham Horror, Call of Cthulhu: The Card Game, Elder Sign, etc.), where the horror atmosphere is maintained.

Although there are a fair number of illustrations focused on actual Lovecraft stories (particularly "The Call of Cthulhu" itself), most of the art here is only tied to the "mythos" -- not a label promoted by Lovecraft, but rather by his estate's literary executor August Derleth -- in a rough thematic fashion. Moreover, there are additional themes tangent to Lovecraft's story settings, such as the Prohibition-era underworld, and they are represented here relative to their salience in the games rather than the original literature.

All of which is just to say, that if you're looking for a volume that gathers a wide range of different artistic approaches to Lovecraft's literary oeuvre, this large book isn't it. But it is a nice collection of art around the themes of occult horror and Yog-Sothothery, with a reasonable variety of artistic styles. As someone accustomed to seeing many of these images among the game materials, it is interesting for me to be able to see larger works that the game publishers had used in fragmentary details (like Thomas Jedruszek's "Free-for-All," 66-7) , and to see art that was reproduced on small cards now realized in the more generous scale of this large book (like Matt Dixon's "Innsmouth Troublemaker," 48).

Pat Harrigan's one-page introduction to the book is basically a concession to the format with little to offer the reader, and his single-paragraph chapter headings are merely what card game designers call "flavor text." There's no real value to be had in any of the prose in this book; it's just about the pictures. There is an appendix with useful artist bios for several dozen of the contributors.

The art all appears to have been produced as work-for-hire, because each picture's caption gives title, artist, and then a copyright attribution to either Chaosium or Fantasy Flight Games. Frankly, it would have been more attractive (and just as effective for intellectual property purposes) to have supplied the copyright notices in a credits page in the front matter or end matter of the book. The material quality of the book is high, with good reproductions on heavy stock, and a dust jacket over a printed paper hardcover that shows the cover art sans title text.
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