18 August 2013

Review: Shakespeare v. Lovecraft

Thanks to Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, there has been no dearth of mashup novelizations as of late. While transferring characters from one universe to another has gone on for ages, as has retellings of classic tales, it's only when Quirk started its little cottage industry did things really start to ramp up. As for me, some of them I really love, and some I don't. Two of my favorite things in the world are William Shakespeare and HP Lovecraft, so when I saw that there was a mashup novella that applied the Cthulhu Mythos with the works/characters of Shakespeare, I had to ultimately dive in and give it a shot. The end result? Well... First, it's not really a mashup in the truest sense, nor is it exactly all that funny for a comedy. The plot is pretty much Shakespeare's major characters battling Lovecraft's demons, sometimes as a coherent plot and sometimes as a side story. The most important story is Prospero (from The Tempest going crazy thanks to The Necronomicon and thus working out a deal with Cthulhu. There are as many nods to Hamlet as there are Re-Animator, and it moves at such a fast clip that even a more seasoned eye for the two authors is bound to miss the references here and there. I don't think this book is bad, per se. I didn't love what I was reading, but I was able to appreciate it. At 86 pages, it doesn't hang around too long, which means it's not wearing out its welcome the way many of the Quick mashups do. The problem with the book, on a whole, is more that it just doesn't really do much. It's less a story than a writing exercise, and it's conceptually fun in that classic self-published way in which, perhaps, someone would have been able to say "okay, okay, that's enough" before it got too far. If you're a hardcore fan of the Bard or the Weird, this is worth a look. It will take you no time at all to soldier through and get something out of it. If this is more of a casual interest, however, it's probably not going to succeed at entertaining you. The joy in this book comes less from the story and more from the references within.

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