Let's start with a statement few fans of horror literature - and especially those with a thing for Lovecraft - would deny: That Which Should Not Be stands as one of the finest Lovecraftian pastiches to have ever been written. So, it's also fair to say, that expectations for Brett J. Talley's sequel to that novel, He Who Walks in Shadow, are fairly high.
And, I'm here to say, Talley meets those expectations. In some cases, he could even be argued to have exceeded them.
Beginning with a desperate search to find the missing Carter Weston, long presumed dead by the authorities, and ending on a deserted Scottish Isle, Talley weaves a complex array of first-person journal entries, memoirs, diaries, and letters to loved-ones (along with the occasional passage from a text book as well as newspaper articles) to draw the reader into the thick of the action. Though this does occasionally make for some repetition of information, it serves the far more valuable end of bringing alive his array of major protagonists. In true Talley style, it also allows for the narrative to deviate off into events that occurred years before, so that other mini-stories related to the main events can also be told. In this way, the spirit of That Which Should Not Be is preserved, whilst allowing for He Who Walks in Shadow to be its very own beast.
Talley's prose is vivid and fluid, and loving re-creates scenes from the early parts of the twentieth century. Yet unlike many of Lovecraft's works, his styles remains eminently accessible. Talley also does not shy away from describing the horrors his characters find on their journey across much of Europe (and beyond), and at one point he pokes a little fun at the master when one of the characters acknowledges that another contemporary writer had the "inability to describe properly the things he has seen". Heh.
If it's not already clear, let me blunt: Fans of Talley and That Which Should Not Be should suffer no delay in getting their hands and/or swiping finger tips on He Who Walks in Shadow. Not only will they be treating themselves to one of the finest horror releases this year, but they will also hopefully ensure Talley opts to return to this universe and the things that lie waiting in the dark between the stars.
4 Meaningful Sacrifices for He Who Walks in Shadow.
The preceding was based on an eARC of the novel provided by the author in exchange for an honest review - which you have just read.