I first came across the writings of C.T. Phipps while reading his Rules of Supervillainy series. I thoroughly enjoyed those books, so when I heard that C.T. was coming out with an almost Cthulhu Western that takes place after the world has been overrun by every work of Mr. Lovecraft’s, I had to read it.
Much to my surprise, the book was nothing like the Supervillainy series as far as tone. That’s a good thing. While Supervillainy was humorous, I don’t pick up Mythos books for a good laugh. From the first page, we’re pulled into an assault on a mysterious Black Cathedral. Just as quickly, and expertly done, we’re introduced to a squad of “Rangers” that are with the last “pure” humans on Earth. Pure, in this context, means non-alien, or ghoul, or whatever kind of specter or what not the critters might be.
This first few pages is where you also get your first taste of some great world building that reminds me, in its detail and vastness, of Tolkien. The world was shattered, culturally and economically speaking, and it became divided by the many different factions of humanity. Each group choosing to worship, fight, or become one with a being or group of beings from the pantheon. Even our hero, John Booth, has no allusion to the world being anything other than what it is: Foreign, toxic, and divided. You’ll see a lot of that in Phipp’s well-built characters as well.
In those first pages, we’re thrown into the rest of the story with some major questions popping up right in the beginning. And that Black Cathedral? It’s a very large MacGuffin, driving the plot as our hero tries to return to it for not only answers, but to protect those that he’s come to care about from a fate worse than death.
My highlights of this story are the obvious references to our culture, but also the interesting view that we get of Lovecraft’s monstrosities. Arguably, my favorite description is of the Deep Ones and their Innsmouth folk followers. They get described as an almost mob presence in Kingsport, dealing in the darker trades. I forget how their leader was described, but he came off as very the Godfather meets Gurgling Deep One.
Another thing I tended to enjoy was the dynamic between characters. Each character has a very specific and realistic personality, and they are very enjoyable. Even Jackie, the little girl who travels with Booth, with her very adult mannerisms comes off as realistic when you see her through the lens of… well, no spoilers.
This book was a solid and well done story that incorporates the best of Mythos fiction with some very original elements from a great writer.
5 out of 5 stars!