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From the Dark Places by Margaret L. Carter
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From the Dark Places

by Margaret L. Carter

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When you start exploring the byways of mythos fiction you end up in some pretty disparate places. One risk is that more often than not these obscure books aren't so good, yet somehow I feel compelled to finish them to have an informed opinion. This ends up taking forever and means I end up reading less than I otherwise would. Alas From the Dark Places was pretty weak and holds nothing of interest for mythos fans. This was one of two books the author listed on the Cthulhu mythos community at Amazon.com. The other, Windwalker's Mate was pretty obviously mythos and well written enough that I looked forward to exploring From the Dark Places. This book is from Amber Quill Press, the author's favaored publisher I guess; it is a 268 page trade paperback that lists at $17.00. Editing was pretty good; cover art by Trace Edward Zaber was a very promising tentacle in front of the Golden Gate Bridge.

Unfortunately, in this second book I began to note a uniformity of prose, characters and plot devices. The heroine is a (hot) young widow with a 4 year old daughter; they both have unsuspected and untapped psychic powers. This makes them a target of the Ancient Ones, aliens from Outside, a different dimension. They manipulate dim witted cultists to try to cross over to our dimension. OK, this is Lovecraftian enough. Again unfortunately, except for a few extremely brief descriptions of tendril-like manifestations of power, this is the absolute only thing close to resembling mythos. It turns out that the Ancient Ones are intrinsically evil and are the forces opposed to God and heaven. They can create human avatars but then adopt human emotions and weaknesses, and can have melodramatic pathetic sounding dialogue. This doesn't necessarily make this a bad book, but for me it took it out of the realm of mythos or Lovecraftian. It is the same kind of wrong headedness in Coach's Midnight Diner: The Jesus vs Cthulhu Edition. Some stories in that book were pretty darned entertaining...but they were most definitely not mythos.

What made this book barely readable was the pretty weak prose. There was a lot of description of testing for paranormal abilities and astral projection. The dilemma of the protagonist, its time course and plot, and her interminable internal self doubt and dialogue, were all so similar to those in Windwalker's Mate it was like a cookie cutter. I did not find the characters interesting. The scenes where they were in danger did not seem really like much of a threat; there was always a deus ex machina occurrence where a friendly ghost or even more unsuspected psychic powers turned up, either in her male interest, her daughter or a cat. I was so bored that by the time I got to the final confrontation, where there was a semi-predictable tragedy, I didn't care and was relieved to be done.

A Carter fan would probably like this better. Outsiders accuse all mythos tales of being retreads and maybe it seems that way to outsiders to romance books. Some horror or paranormal thriller readers don't want their heroines *too* threatened. All I can say is readers looking for a mythos fix are advised to go elsewhere. If any of her other books end up being listed as mythos I think I'll let someone else I trust read it first and let me know how it is. ( )
  carpentermt | Sep 21, 2010 |
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