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Rites of Azathoth

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F.B.I. criminal profiler Diana Mancuso doesn’t do field work anymore. Not since a tragic mistake that cost innocent lives. But when notorious serial killer Luther Vayne escapes from prison and resumes his campaign of brutal murders, the Bureau convinces her to take one last case.

To catch him, she must understand him. She must delve into the arcana that fuels his madness, risking her life and her sanity to follow his twisted path.

The trail plunges her into a shadowy world of occult rituals and unspeakable horrors, leading to a secret cabal operating at the highest levels—and a plot to summon the darkest of all powers, to bring forth an evil that does not belong in our world—to enact the Rites of Azathoth.


Published January 27, 2017

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About the author

Frank Cavallo

12 books39 followers
Frank Cavallo's new novel, the dark fantasy "Rites of Azathoth" is currently on sale from Necro/Bedlam. He is also the author of "Eye of the Storm", "The Lucifer Messiah" and the weird western "The Hand of Osiris."

His short fiction has appeared in venues such as Another Realm, Ray Gun Revival, Every Day Fiction and Lost Souls. He has worked in the Warhammer universe, penning the novella "Into the Valley of Death" included in the "Gotrek & Felix: Lost Tales" collection as well as a number of short stories available as part of Black Library's "the Best of Hammer and Bolter: Volume 2."

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Displaying 1 - 17 of 17 reviews
Profile Image for Veronica ⭐️.
974 reviews198 followers
August 28, 2017
The occult, cults and witchcraft are not things I ever read about. They truly scare me and give me nightmares. So, why did I read this novel? I offered to read it thinking it was another murder mystery detective novel. So read it I did.

It took me a few chapters to get into the story but once it got going I was pulled into the mystery.

Diana Mancuso is one tough FBI agent and swears like a trooper. She is top of her field in criminal profiling but now prefers a desk job teaching rookies in behavioral science.
When a serial murderer escapes prison and 24 hours later a new murder is discovered Diana is called back to the field. However when the line between myth and reality are blurred Diana finds herself caught between the two.

The story is deep in myths, mythology, black magic, paganism and mysticism which seriously creeped me out but I couldn’t stop reading. The mystery was compelling; the twists were surprising and the killings gruesome.

Diana was a great protagonist, tough and unrelenting but we also saw a hidden vulnerable side.

Cavallo has created the most intriguing and spine-chilling antihero, in Luther Vayne, I have ever come across.

It’s not my genre but once I started I couldn’t stop and once I read it, it couldn’t be unread. This story will stick in my head.

If you enjoy stories about the occult, bizarre mythology, fringe religion and ritualistic sacrifices then this book is for you.

With my thanks to the author for my copy to read and review.

Profile Image for Cobwebby Eldritch Reading Reindeer .
5,137 reviews272 followers
April 22, 2017
by Frank Cavallo

THE RITES OF AZATHOTH is an exceptional and outstanding horror/mystery/thriller which can proudly take its place in the Lovecraftian Mythos as a fine work of fiction. Riveting, intriguing, and terrifying, the novel speeds us along as an FBI profiler, highly intelligent but morally ambiguous, agrees to field work after a lapse of several years. The case to which her Assistant Director assigns her is one so strange and farfetched that no one in law enforcement can comprehend or encapsulate it. A confessed killer of the mid-1970's has bee incarcerated for forty years. The man is blind. He disappears from his cell in the Federal Penitentiary in Ohio. He kills without leaving traces, and without touching the victim. He insists all he does is “at the command of Azathoth.” Arrayed in opposition to him are not only local law enforcement and the FBI, but also a highly organized, highly powerful, very wealthy secret group, The Disciples of the Black Fame. They are awaiting the Convergence, a date “when the stars are right,” to summon Yog-Sothoth to open the gate and allow the return of the extra-dimensional Outer Gods.

If this summary sounds Lovecraftian, it does so for good reason. I have to think that HPL himself would approve! Certainly I find this novel utterly delightful—and very terrifying.
Profile Image for Kirsty ❤️.
922 reviews46 followers
August 4, 2017
When you download an e-book to kindle fire by the nature of the size it can hugely increase the number of pages of a book. This one is 450ish pages but on my indle comes out at just over 10,000. That's 10000 swipes of a page. The last few I've read that long have been torturous to the point I've put off reading this book rather than face mind-numbing trek through a 'large' book.

That was a mistake as I loved this book and had the whole thing read in two days in and around putting in full days at work. We have a renegade FBI profiler, an archaeologist who specialises in ancient languages, a 70 year old blind serial killer, demon Gods from before civilisation began and a  possible apocalypse - it's just my kind of crazy. What's not to love about it???

It's a cracking pace, a mix of view points from all the key players and a plot that's just completely bonkers. It mixes murder mystery, police procedure and the esoteric so well with plenty of WTF moments. It's just so much fun to read and I haven't really felt that in a book for a long time. Absolutely loved it

Free arc from netgalley
Profile Image for Debra .
2,298 reviews35k followers
June 10, 2017
The Rites of Azathoth has a little bit of everything in it and this worked very nicely. This book had murder, mystery, FBI procedural/investigation, the occult, Occult rituals, suspense, science fiction, horror, etc. I was surprised at how much I enjoyed this book. I found it to be intriguing, interesting, engaging and a fun, creepy ride into the occult and the hunt for the truth. I LOVE when a book surprises me!

Diana Mancuso is an FBI criminal Profiler who now teaches instead of doing field work. She is haunted by a judgement call she made in the past. She holds herself responsible for the loss of lives and is more comfortable now in the classroom training new agents. Until one day she is called back into the field. A serial killer, Luther Vayne, has completely disappeared from the prison he has been imprisoned in for 40 years. A serial killer who kills women and children in ritualistic acts as commanded by Azathoth. The walls of his cell contain the ancient writings that were written in blood. The Assistant Director wants her to get inside the head of the killer to track him down after he has escaped and killed again. Will she get into his head or will he get into her head?

Carter, an expert in ancient languages has been hired by an eccentric billionaire, Victor Gregorian, to read an ancient tablet. A tablet that he has heard about from his previous mentor. A mentor who went insane in his pursuit of learning more about Azathoth. Intrigued and excited by this find, Carter agrees to help the Disciples of the Black Flame as they wait for the convergence and for Vayne to make an appearance. There is something big planned. Something Gregorian has been waiting his entire life for, something that Vayne has been commanded to stop.

I found the pacing of this book to be spot on. I really enjoyed how the story unfolded. I was invested in the story and it became a page turner for me as I wanted to see how it was going to end. I don't typically read books on the occult or too many science fiction type books but I thought this book was captivating. I found the story to be really interesting and fun. Yes there is blood and gore but that goes with the genre. I found this book to be wonderfully bloody, interesting, creepy, well written descent into the occult. There are a lot of things happening in this book but everything is easy to follow and understand.

I think fans of various book genres will enjoy this book. I really enjoyed this book and found it hard to put down!

I received a copy of this book from Book publicity Services and the Author in return for an honest review.

See more of my reviews at www.openbookpost.com
Profile Image for Josie Jaffrey.
Author 36 books158 followers
August 1, 2017
The Gin Book Club received a copy of this book from the author in return for an honest review.


This was an excellent crime thriller with plenty of occult mystery thrown in for good measure.

The plot moved at a good pace and raised plenty of questions to keep me guessing all the way through the novel. The tension of the story built throughout leading to a showdown which was both satisfying and dramatic, if a little far-fetched for me.

The central characters were strong and I found myself really rooting for Diana, I was desperate for her to succeed and for those around her to believe what she knew to be true. The notorious serial killer mentioned on the back of the book was suitably terrifying and mysterious, and his macabre crimes were surrounded by intrigue.

Personally I struggled slightly with the demon element of the narrative. I have no problem believing in horrendous crimes committed by humanity but I find it much more difficult to believe in the reality of demons (or at least in demons this far removed from humans - for some reason I find vampires, werewolves or even non-physical entities much easier to deal with!). I found the creatures difficult to picture from the descriptive language used - as much as I’m sure that they described exactly what the author saw in his mind’s eye, I honestly didn’t even know where to start.

Overall I loved the crime aspects of the novel, and the way it was written, and I would read more by the author, however the demonic element was a bit too much for me.

The good:

I really liked the character of Diana, I thought she was an excellent protagonist, strong and yet flawed at the same time. I also found Luther fascinating and a good contrast to some of the other main players.

The bad:

I didn’t really understand Katya’s sacrifice. Regardless of how devoted Gregorian’s ‘employees’ are, it didn’t really fit for me that she willingly sacrificed herself, but maybe that’s just because we weren’t given any insight into her as a character or what she had been told. Certainly until that point I was viewing her as someone paid simply to service Gregorian’s needs, not as a devoted follower.

As I mentioned above, the descriptions of the demons were too much for me in places. My difficulty in picturing them caused my reading flow to be continually disrupted as I tried to form an image in my head.

The ugly:

I only spotted a few minor editing/spelling errors.

The quote:

“I stared upon it for ages, for eons perhaps, weeping at the dark, endless beauty, screaming at the unrelenting silence, drowning in the horror of its emptiness. Until the darkness looked back at me, and then I was truly lost."


I am a huge Lovecraft fan. Cavallo obviously is as well, and he's also clearly an incorrigible tease, because he made me wait until THE PENULTIMATE PAGE before he used the word 'eldritch'. Shame on you, Frank.

Unlike Vicky, I didn't have any trouble with the descriptions of the demonic entities. Maybe my reading background helped me out here, because they were highly Lovecraftian - extremely descriptive but obfuscatory at the same time. The author tells you enough to engender a frisson of horror, but not enough to take away the fear completely. After all, the monsters are always less scary when you can see what they look like. I thought it was masterful, and I revelled in his use of the language (I was particularly delighted with the appearance of 'oleaginous').

I loved Luther Vayne. The concept of his origin, and the way it was interspersed in the narrative, kept me glued to the page. His story element, and the introduction of the FBI, put a thoroughly modern twist on an old concept. The story is grittier than you would expect from the title, and gorier than Lovecraft would have dared, but still retains so much of the atmosphere his stories evoke that it never disappointed.

In terms of gripes, I do agree with Vicky about Katya. I had to assume that she hadn't realised she was about to be eaten, because otherwise her sacrifice makes no sense to me.

I also would have liked to see a more rounded ending to the story. I know it's very Lovecraftian to just ditch the reader at the end of the action, but given the added complexities of the characters in Cavallo's story, it would have been satisfying to have a fuller ending. What happened to Norris and Ariadne? Did they survive?

That aside, I thought the biggest let-down for this book was the editing. Unlike Vicky, I noticed a distractingly large number of spelling, grammatical and continuity errors. I wish this book had been better edited, because the errors were grouped towards the beginning of the book and it made it a struggle to get into the story (which well deserves the reader's attention).
Profile Image for Melissa Chung.
904 reviews325 followers
August 5, 2017
I want to thank Kelsey Butts, Frank Cavallo and Bedlam Press for sending me this book for an honest review.

I must say when I first started reading this book, I was curious to see where it would lead. As I progressed through the story, I could hardly put it down. Very interesting read. 3.5 stars.

Diana Mancuso is a 43 year old criminal profiler with the F.B.I. In ten days time her whole world will be turned upside down.

Carter Shaw is a curator of Near Eastern Antiquities. He has been working at the Museum of Fine Arts, in Boston, Mass. on and off for the last 30 years. He doesn't realize in little over a week, all he has ever wanted is about to come true.

Luther Vayne is a seventy-plus year old blind man who has just broken out of prison and has just killed a man in a rather horrific and unsettling way. He has ten days to complete his task.

These three people are connected in this story. Diana is in charge of figuring out who the killer is. All clues point to Luther Vayne, a serial killer from the seventies, but how is that possible? Luther is blind and old. How did he kill the victim without any trace of him being there? Diana has been teaching at Quantico, ever since the horrible mistake she made on her last case. Field work is no longer in her future. Unfortunately her boss Richard Norris, needs her help with this new murder. She must get inside the killers head, see what he sees. Is it worth it, to have that kind of knowledge? Will Diana be able to forget the horrors of what she has seen?

What I liked most about this book is the supernatural/ religious aspect. Without that extra addition to the story this would have been an average crime novel. Catch the killer by looking for clues. The Rites of Azathoth is an ancient ritual to open a door to the unknown. Azathoth is the oldest of gods. The one true god, creator of all things. Azathoth is EVERYTHING. I found the ritual, the members, the writing all fascinating.

When Diana starts her investigation she is weary of this Azathoth. She learns there is an individual who is an expert of this archaic religion. Carter Shaw can read the old texts, he knows all there is to know about the Black Flame, a secret society of occult followers. Those that worshiped Azathoth and studied the old ways. The rites the Elders past down from before the Babylonian and Sumerian days. Azathoth is just a myth though right? There is no proof of this religion existing? She will soon find out.

Azathoth is a deity in the Cthulhu Mythos created by H.P. Lovecraft in 1922. I found the descriptions of this Outer God to be fascinating. I have not read any H.P. Lovecraft, but now that I've read this book I'm very interested in reading more. Cthulhu is a kind of cephalopod with dragon and human-like features that slumbers, "dead, but dreaming" under the City of R'lyeh.

Frank Cavallo has written an interesting crime story with a bit of Lovecraft thrown in the mix. Some of the characters are interesting. I liked Gregorian, Carter and Vayne. These three men all have real stories inside this book. They all have goals and set about accomplishing those tasks. The other characters were kind of flat for me. Diana got on my nerves and reminded me too much of Dana Scully for X-Files. Whenever there is a character that doesn't believe what they see makes me think of Scully. Diana has witnessed on several occasions that Azathoth was real and yet continues to question it which drove me crazy. Her relationship with her boss wasn't really needed. It didn't feel like it pushed the story forward. The emotions the characters expressed where a little exaggerated in my opinion which also took me out of the book. Diana was always a little unhinged. She was always screaming and cussing. Norris too with his red face and bulging eyes was a little too extreme.

Like I said above the Azathoth part was my favorite. I'm giving this book 3.5 stars because of Gregorian, Carter and Vayne. The creepy loyal followers were also a welcome sight. Dropping a star for grammatical errors and some of the cheesy dialogue. Dropping another star because the F.B.I agents were obnoxious and flat. Lastly 1/2 a star for dramatic emotions seen by Diana and Norris and the fight scene at the end. A 43 year old F.B.I agent should be better at a fight than that.
Profile Image for Mommacat.
517 reviews27 followers
June 1, 2017
RITES OF AZATHOTH is well thought out, super descriptive FBI thriller by way of Lovecraftian science fiction epic. Wow! It was a good storyline that could have benefited by just a bit of editing. It seemed a little long in the beginning, but once the story got started and I was invested in the plot, I read straight through to the end.

I really enjoyed reading this book and recommend it to everyone who is looking for something just a little different.
Profile Image for Danielle Urban.
Author 15 books138 followers
May 16, 2017
Rites of Azathoth by Frank Cavallo is clearly a well-written dark fantasy. The title and cover caught my curiosity. Upon reading this tale, I found Frank Cavallo's talent to entertaining. His novel is a dark mystery and horror combined. A thriller too. A serial killer, a tragic mistake that cost innocent lives, and new murders committed will surely lure readers further into the story. A fast-placed plot with an edge that will frighten and keep readers like myself deeply engaged. Suspenseful with every page. Guessing will occur as readers dig their way through it. Rites of Azathoth is wicked novel full of twisted scenes. Evil is here. Escaping it will be hard. Overall, I highly recommend this fantasy to readers everywhere.

(I got this copy from the author. This, is my honest review.)
Profile Image for Sue Wallace .
5,908 reviews62 followers
March 13, 2022
Rites of azathoth by Frank Cavaallo.
F.B.I. criminal profiler Diana Mancuso doesn’t do field work anymore. Not since a tragic mistake that cost innocent lives. But when notorious serial killer Luther Vayne escapes from prison and resumes his campaign of brutal murders, the Bureau convinces her to take one last case.
To catch him, she must understand him. She must delve into the arcana that fuels his madness, risking her life and her sanity to follow his twisted path.
The trail plunges her into a shadowy world of occult rituals and unspeakable horrors, leading to a secret cabal operating at the highest levels—and a plot to summon the darkest of all powers, to bring forth an evil that does not belong in our world—to enact the Rites of Azathoth.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Great story and characters. Read in one sitting. 5*.
Profile Image for Claus Appel.
67 reviews2 followers
August 10, 2017
Very gripping story. Quite unpredictable, and I very much needed to know what would happen next.

It is very strongly inspired by Lovecraft's "The Dunwich Horror" and functions as a kind of distant sequel to that story.

The ending was disappointing. It ended up being more like "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" than Cthulhu Mythos. But I kind of knew from the beginning. When a Cthulhu Mythos story starts to bring up the topic of "the end of the world", it pretty much always ends in disappointment (at least for a misanthrope like me - I am always hoping that the world WILL end).

Still, it was an engrossing story, and Cavallo's interpretation of the Cthulhu Mythos is at least... acceptable.
414 reviews2 followers
November 15, 2017
A Great Lovecraftian Tale

F.B.I. Agent Mancuso has stumbled upon multiple cases of the work of an inhuman serial killer. But the more she gets closer to the truth, the more she enters madness and reality is no longer what it seems.
Lovecraft would have loved this story. It is rare to find a tale concerning Azathoth and this keeps you cringing all throughout.
pick this up, its good!!!
Profile Image for Liam Walker.
27 reviews1 follower
March 13, 2017
Really enjoyed about 80% of this book the end was rushed however & there was maybe 4/5 spelling mistakes etc
Profile Image for GracieKat.
272 reviews79 followers
March 25, 2017
Oh Cthulhu there was so much about this book I loved. I loved the main plot of the story. The Lovecraftian Mythos was worked in perfectly. It didn't jar at all or feel like the author just skimmed Lovecraft's works just to be able to throw in a reference now and then. It all flowed smoothly and naturally. I loved it. The action parts were gripping. Especially in the last few chapters. Luther Vayne was an awesome character. I'd tell you more but, nope, sorry. You'll just have to see for yourself. The other side characters were great as well. I particularly liked Carter. I would have liked Ariadne more if she had been a tad more fleshed out. There were also no gratuitous sex scenes, which I was very thankful for.

This book was sooo close to being a 5 Skull read for me. So why wasn't it? I have one word to sum it up.


I could not stand her. She was a bitch to Ariadne, the one friend she has. She sucks as an agent and as a human being. All she does is snarl, sneer, narrow her eyes, glare and (in a really weird context) leers. I'm not saying a character has to be pleasant all of the time for me to like them but she seemed to have a chip the size of a boulder on her shoulder for no discernible reason. Even with her friend. I found myself cringing and sighing in just about every scene she was in. She's not a badass. Unless you count beating up someone who's already cuffed a badass. I think my eyes might have rolled so hard they almost fell out of my head. Even if this had been a male character I wouldn't buy it. Especially a desk agent. Sorry, I just couldn't buy it. The injuries also seem to have no effect on her at all. I think it'd be kind of hard to talk with a shattered jaw but she manages just fine. Making her an active field agent would have gone a long way to making this at least somewhat believable.

On a more technical note there were some odd word choices that pulled me out occasionally. One made me giggle out loud. There were also a few typos here and there. There are also weirdly italicized sentences and parts of sentences. Nothing major to make it unreadable or anything but the author might want to just skim back through to correct them. It did drag a bit near the 80% mark. At that time you know what's going on and you just want to get on with it and get to the awesome finale that you know is coming.

Which it is. Frank Cavallo has an amazing talent for setting a scene vividly and clearly. The action scenes were clear and not muddled at all. You knew exactly what was going on all the time. They were also vivid. I honestly can't praise this aspect enough. I've run across a lot of scenes in other books where you can't tell what's going on or with who. Then there are others that are so dispassionate it's like reading a manual. He is also quite accurate in the firearms which is always nice. He sidesteps these flaws with ease and paints it so clearly that I could see the battle. And it was glorious.

My major issue was with Diana and a few poor word choices. Other than those though I really enjoyed it. I would recommend it to most people. Even if you haven't read Lovecraft the story will still draw you in. In other words, you don't have to be well-versed in the Cthulhu Mythos to enjoy the book. Lovecraft fans, however, will get a kick out of all the references so there's tasty goodness for both sides of the spectrum.

Given to www.scifiandscary.com by the author for review consideration.
Profile Image for Felix J.
1 review
March 31, 2017
This was a great mix of a police procedural-type thriller, with FBI agents chasing down leads on the trail of an escaped killer, that plunges into all-out supernatural territory. The procedural stuff is hard-edged and gritty, and really lands you knee deep in the nuts and bolts of a criminal investigation. That's just setting the stage for what's to come though. When the book takes a serious turn toward the occult, things take a dark and decidedly otherworldly tone. What at first is seemingly just an aspect of a bizarre case, leads down a path toward actually bringing forth Yog Sothoth and his minions. Plenty of tentacles and bloodshed, in the truest Lovecraftian tradition.
Profile Image for Shane Douglas Douglas.
Author 6 books63 followers
April 22, 2017
This is an excerpt. Read the full review at: http://www.horrorreview.com/rites-of-...

In the last couple years, it seems like there’s been a major surge in the amount of new material being published in the field of dark genre fiction. And a surprising thing about that is the literal plethora of entries in the lexicon of weird or cosmic horror fiction, with collections like Laird Barron’s Swift to Chase and T.E. Grau’s The Lure of Devouring Light receiving high—and well deserved—accolades, not to mention all the novel- and novella-length books being produced by indie and big five publishers alike. Which leads me to a guilty confession: I can’t stand most cosmic horror, particularly that of the Lovecraftian variety. And the reason for that is simple. Up until recently, most of the work I had read in the subgenre was pure pastiche, with nothing original or new about it, and if you want to sell that type of stuff to me, it should be different in some way. Fortunately, there have been a lot of books that fall into the “unique” category lately. Frank Cavallo’s newest book, Rites of Azathoth, is one of them.
Profile Image for David Dubrow.
Author 15 books9 followers
April 27, 2017
Frank Cavallo’s Rites of Azathoth is a fun read, if slow-moving; much of the novel is taken up with description, law enforcement procedure, and dialogue, so if those elements are your cup of tea, you’ll find a lot to like. Devotees of the Cthulhu Mythos won’t need to be told that the novel centers around Lovecraftian themes; all you need is a title with the name Azathoth in it to get our misshapen hearts pumping. Overall, Cavallo does a fine job of updating Lovecraft’s horrors, making them relevant to our 21st century sensibilities.

There are plots within plots in Rites of Azathoth, some of them reaching to the highest levels of both the government and the corporate spheres. It’s protagonist Diana Mancuso’s unenviable job to get to the heart of it all, and solve a case that doesn’t just hint at the supernatural, but dives headlong into it. Mancuso’s very much an anti-hero: reluctant to get involved, frequently breaks the rules, and not above torture to get the information she needs. She’s not likable, but she’s the investigator this case needs.

Cavallo’s familiarity with legal, political, and law enforcement nomenclature provide welcome credibility to the narrative, even if his unfamiliarity with firearms presents a minor problem (Glocks don’t have safeties you can switch on and off, and handguns have magazines, not clips). The dialogue was uneven: sometimes it was snappy, at other times clumsy and overlong. Cavallo’s descriptions of the terrible goings-on and horrific creatures are disturbing, which is exactly what you want for a novel like this.

You like high intrigue, ancient rituals, disgusting villains, and mind-ripping horrors? You’ll get them all and more in Rites of Azathoth. I can’t say much more than I have for fear of giving away its appalling secrets. In a novel that’s catnip for Lovecraft fans, Frank Cavallo delivers the scares. While I didn’t care for Diana Mancuso, I do look forward to the next Cavallo novel.
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