First published back in March of 2017, British author Gary Fry’s novella ‘The Rage Of Cthulhu’ was the fifth publication from Horrific Tales Publishing’s premium novella line (a series of beautifully presented hardback novellas released from the incredibly well-respected horror publishers).

DLS Synopsis:
They’d walked all the way from Whitby along the Cleveland Way public footpath, taking stock of what the Great British landscape had to offer.  Getting out and enjoying the simplistic pleasures of life was one of the things that Christine Cox had tried to encourage from her husband, George, ever since he’d been diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumour.  The walk had been long, but it had been good for them both.

Along the pathway they’d spotted two lonesome buildings, looking out over the seafront.  The first was a lighthouse that looked to be still in use.  The second building looked anything but operational.  On its flat roof, a giant foghorn of at least five yards in length, sat silently.  Even from a distance, they could see the front of the building was heavily battered, as if something immense had clattered against it.

With his curiosity piqued, George had decided to take a look inside.  There he saw firsthand the damage the building had suffered.  It looked as if something had rammed into its structure from the outside.  But what could be so large and powerful, let alone possess the height such an assault required?

The damage sustained on the disused foghorn station continued to linger in George’s mind.  Unable to fathom or shake off the mystery, he starts investigating the station’s history.

His interest gradually becomes an obsession.  His curiosity in the foghorn station’s legacy is fueled further by strange rumours passed to him from one of the ageing locals.

Somehow it all seems to lead back to March of 1975 and a Norwegian station guard named Jens Amundsen.  A man who dabbled in the dark arts.  A worker at the Whitby Fog Signal, whose strange hobbies caused concerned amongst the few other employees.  A man obsessed with the dark cosmos, who it appears had found an old manuscript buried in the mud, just below the cliff-top where the foghorn building stood.

A man who might just have woken a colossal being, older than the world itself…

DLS Review:
British author Gary Fry is certainly no stranger to Lovecraftian fiction.  Just look at some of his previous offerings: ‘Conjure House’ (2013), ‘The Outsiders’ (2015) and of course ‘The Doom That Came To Whitby Town’ (2016) to name but a few.  It’s probably fair to say that cosmic Lovecraftian horror is Fry’s ‘go to genre’.  A subgenre that not only suits his writing style, but is also one that he clearly enjoys the magnificent mythos of immensely.

So it comes as no surprise whatsoever that Fry’s penned a Cthulhu novella.  Let’s face it – it was only ever a matter of time.  However, the problem with adding his own tale to this particular aspect of Lovecraft’s mythos, is how over-crowded it is.  Indeed, it seems every other author these days has knocked out a Cthulhu story at some stage in their career.  Standing out from the pack is therefore the absolute key to success here.

Luckily, Fry’s not been put off by the challenge, or been pressured into producing a thunderous overly ambitious ‘Great Old Ones’ extravaganza.  Such a cop-out would undoubtedly have done Fry’s writing style and level-headed thoughtful horror a colossal disservice.

What we have instead is a creeping, ingeniously unnerving horror that works its wispy tendrils under your skin the further you venture into the tale.  There’s a subdued pacing to the novella that gradually, quietly, gains momentum – carrying you along as the cogs turn and the layers are slowly peeled back.

What works so incredibly well is the time-worn, coldness within the very fabric of the story.  There’s a clear and intrinsically inter-woven human element to it all, but nevertheless, that damp, dark eeriness seems to infiltrate everywhere we look.  Ramsey Campbell is a master of this.  His ingrained muddying that seeps into everything.  A malignancy that seems to linger, unspoken, beneath every word.  It’s something we see achieved perfectly by Fry here.

Furthermore, having the novella’s principal protagonist – the likeable George Cox – suffering from a terminal illness, adds a whole new level to the story.  Fry utilises this angle with absolute respect, without shying away from the hard-hitting truth of such a true-to-life horror.  Indeed, as the novel nears its conclusion, Fry works in suggestive intertwining threads, melding the intimate corruptive vileness of George’s malignant brain tumour with the more forthright mythological horror of Cthulhu in all its nightmarish vastness.

One thing that this story does is swallow you whole.  From the moment you begin, Fry’s wonderfully enchanting prose ensnares you; pulling you into the unveiling mystery.  It’s dark and creepy and effortlessly captivating from the very first page, right until the gut-wrenching, heart-in-mouth ending.

I absolutely loved this tale.  Very highly recommended.

The novella runs for a total of 88 pages.

© DLS Reviews

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