Wednesday, August 23, 2017

WINTER TIDE, a marvelous expansion and deepening of Lovecraft's Cthulhu Mythos

(The Innsmouth Legacy #1)
$25.99 hardcover, available now

Rating: 4.5* of five

I need some more bandwidth to become available prior to reviewing this novel. Watch this space. And don't forget to read my review of The Litany of Earth, the link to the free read is in it.

The Publisher Says: After attacking Devil’s Reef in 1928, the U.S. Government rounded up the people of Innsmouth and took them to the desert, far from their ocean, their Deep One ancestors, and their sleeping god Cthulhu. Only Aphra and Caleb Marsh survived the camps, and they emerged without a past or a future.

The government that stole Aphra's life now needs her help. FBI agent Ron Spector believes that Communist spies have stolen dangerous magical secrets from Miskatonic University, secrets that could turn the Cold War hot in an instant, and hasten the end of the human race.

Aphra must return to the ruins of her home, gather scraps of her stolen history, and assemble a new family to face the darkness of human nature.


My Review: I began this book hoping it would be at least as good as THE LITANY OF EARTH (link above) and would expand my sense of the reality of Miskatonic University. I've had enough contact with the Cthulhu Mythos to have developed a deep desire to become an alumnus of Miskatonic. It is not to be, of course, Arkham being fictional as well as in coastal Massachusetts *shiver*, but it gives you a sense of how real this mythos seems to me. Current titles like Lovecraft Country and Carter & Lovecraft have passed before my approving gaze, deepening my appreciation for the talent, if not the person, of racist sexist nativist H.P. Lovecraft. There is something in the Elder Gods that answers a need in people, since there are so very many people using the Mythos today to explore the dystopia in which we live, which seems only to get worse (viz., Charlottesville, Virginia).

Author Emrys's particular flash of genius is to make the Mythos spread over time, writing an historical novel set in 1948 from the standpoint of a World War II-to-Cold-War world where Innsmouth and the Water People were interned before the Japanese were. It's brilliant. The government needed only to turn their bureaucratic gaze a few inches to get a ready-made solution to the "Nisei Threat." I was completely convinced by this. I can think of nothing to prevent this from being true...except it isn't.

Feels to me like it should be. Families like the Marshes, longtime residents of Innsmouth and leaders among the Water People who make up most of Innsmouth's population, are wrenched from the spawning grounds (being humans although amphibious, they need to breed on terra firma before they can undergo final metamorphosis and go back to the sea) and sent to desert camps. Most died in the violence of the round-up, or in the deserts, and now only Aphra Marsh of San Francisco and her brother Caleb of Arkham, Massachusetts, are left. The sole full-blooded Water People who can breed are, in returning to Innsmouth to assist the government that committed genocide against their kind, coming to grips with what it means to be the future not simply to have a future.

As we submerge deeper and deeper into the cold, dark, high-pressure depths of human hatred of otherness and intolerance of difference, WINTER TIDE feels more and more like a howl from the edge of the pack: A better trail is over here! Come this way, accept and embrace the not-usual, accept and embrace the viewpoint of the outsider, and you'll see the whole picture much more clearly. The threats are real. They simply aren't where you're looking for them.

How perfect a co-opting of the Cthulhu Mythos that is. In keeping with the co-opting we, the sane and normal, need to do with the lunatic fringe's ideological excesses. Making the bad spirits better is, as the titanic struggles Aphra and her rag-tag family of choice endure and prevail over, extremely hard. But the will to do it, the willingness to suffer the literal and psychic pains and amputations required by it, exist in us. We need to need the end results as much as Aphra and her family, as well as her blood family, need the results of their internecine war.

Aphra Marsh for President.

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