Description: Having survived one eldritch horror already, philologist Percival Endicott Whyborne and his lover and partner, private detective Griffin Flaherty, are two of the few people able to answer his father’s request to investigate paranormal happenings in a mine in Threshold, West Virginia. But what they find in the mine is much older, and much more horrific, than simple tommyknockers or other such mine superstitions.
Impression: I’m not sure if my level of Lovecraft familiarity was beneficial to my read or not. On the one hand, the moment that the narration offhandedly mentioned a ‘buzzing voice’ outside the window, I instantly identified what it probably was (twitter thread, for your amusement) and that obviously informed me of the nature of the monster, down to what kind of offer Whyborne would likely receive. On the other hand, because they’re terrifying, I was also on tenterhooks of horror over interactions that may have seemed normal and commonplace if I hadn’t identified them. So, you know, I think I just traded the mystery for a different kind of terror.
The book as a whole was a lot more tightly written than the first book was; most of the roughness that Widdershins had was sanded away in this, leaving a tight, suspenseful plot dripping with horror. I was immediately pleased to see my concerns with Whyborne’s family were dealt with—obviously, however apologetic Whyborne thinks his father may be, he’s absolutely neck deep in the supernatural still and still horrifically dismissive of his son. I was equally delighted to see Christine’s return and even greater role in this story as well!
There were parts of the story I didn’t enjoy—and, to be fair, some of those parts hinged on a pet peeve of mine, which is a sexual jealousy plot. Look, I know sexual jealousy story beats are a mainstay of introducing conflict to a romantic storyline, and it’s perfectly in character for Whyborne—who is both insecure and, as I noted in my last review, incredibly ready to be betrayed at any moment—and it’s a well-executed example since everyone had a reason for how they were acting, but I just don’t like them!
But none of those parts interfered with my enjoyment. The book was tightly written, exciting, interesting, and I couldn’t put it down. Many scenes bucked my expectations in a wonderful way (the diverse nature of mining towns, Whyborne’s conversations with the sex workers), and bits that I was worried would be used for the drama (such as the sex scene where they left the window open) were used in charming ways instead.
Hawk has claimed part of the Mythos as their own and has done it well; I’m not easy to scare, but my heart was literally racing during large parts of this story. Good job all around. I can’t wait to read what’s next for Whyborne (with that mummy still knocking around in the bg, I’ve got my fingers crossed for Whyborne vs the handsomest eldritch deity, the crawling chaos Nyarlathotep himself).