Miskatonic University has a long-whispered reputation of being strongly connected to all things occult and supernatural. From the faculty to the students, the fascination with other-worldly legends and objects runs rampant. So, when Carter Weston’s professor Dr. Thayerson asks him to search a nearby village for a book that is believed to control the inhuman forces that rule the Earth, Incendium Maleficarum, The Inferno of the Witch, the student doesn’t hesitate to begin the quest.
Weston’s journey takes an unexpected turn, however, when he ventures into a tavern in the small town of Anchorhead. Rather than passing the evening as a solitary patron, Weston joins four men who regale him with stories of their personal experiences with forces both preternatural and damned. Two stories hit close to home as they tie the tellers directly to Weston’s current mission.
His unanticipated role as passive listener proves fortuitous, and Weston fulfills his goal. Bringing the book back to Miskatonic, though, proves to be a grave mistake. Quickly, Weston realizes he has played a role in potentially opening the gate between the netherworld and the world of Man. Reversing the course of events means forgetting all he thought he knew about Miskatonic and his professor and embracing an unknown beyond his wildest imagination.
Lovecraftian Horror at Its Best
This review was first published on Kurt's Frontier.
When Carter Weston, a student at Miskatonic University, is asked by Professor Thayerson to retrieve a dangerous book from the nearby village of Anchorhead, Carter does not hesitate. Miskatonic University has a long reputation of being point-blank on all things occult and supernatural. He must retrieve the Incendium Maleficarum (The Inferno of the Witch), a book that controls the inhuman forces that once ruled the Earth.
His stay takes an unexpected turn when four patrons of a local tavern invite him into their group and regale him with stories of their past experiences with forces not meant for the human mind to know. One of the patrons helps Carter complete his goal. However, bringing the book back to Professor Thayerson proves to be a grave error. Thayerson intends to open the gates between worlds, bringing the Great Old Ones back from where they were banished. Carter must now put aside fear and doubt and face terrors beyond mortal ken to stop Thayerson from awakening Cthulhu, the Great Dreamer.
Brett J. Talley has entered the mythos of Howard Phillips Lovecraft. Carter Weston is the point of view character of this first-person cosmic horror. Sent to retrieve the Incendium Maleficarum from the village of Anchorhead, he spends the first part of the story listening to four men recount tales of facing terror. One tells of an encounter with a Wendigo. Another speaks of facing danger in an East European abbey. The third tells of his own dealings with professors at Miskatonic University. The fourth tells of how he retrieved the book in question. Once he gets the book, Carter returns it to his professor, only to realize it was a grave mistake.
Miskatonic tends to be ground zero in the mythos of Lovecraft. The author sets That Which Should Not Be in the early 20th Century. Talley captures the tone of Lovecraftian horror, using a “slow burn” to lead the reader through the realm of terror. It was a fun and enjoyable read.