Dru's Reviews > The Quest for Cthulhu

The Quest for Cthulhu by August Derleth
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did not like it
bookshelves: horror

I consider myself a Lovecraft fanatic. I've read and reread his works. Studied them. Analyzed and even cataloged them. Played games based on them. And as such I occasionally tread into the works of those who would attempt to expand his Cthulhu Mythos. Most of them are rubbish, and while I used to think Brian Lumley was the worst, we have a new winner. Despite August Derleth's knowing Lovecraft himself and despite his attempt to keep his works alive after HPL's death, I have avoided reading most of his work for years. Now I know why.

August Derleth's works read like the star-struck fan fiction of an unimaginative 9th grader trying desperately to capture the style and essense of his hero HP Lovecraft. There are lots of adjectives to describe this book, none of them good:

1) Derivative
The plots in this book are nothing short of rip offs of Lovecraft's. Oh, you have an ancestor in Innsmouth? Been there. Oh, you're going to land on R'lyeh? Done that.

2) Unsubtle
Every story beats you over the head with the names of multiple Great Olds Ones and Other Gods and Tomes and Places and Races. We *must* go to Innsmouth, we *must* go to The Nameless City, we *must* go to R'lyeh, we *must* go to Arkham. And at least every story MUST contain one "Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn".

3) Erroenous
Lovecraft NEVER EVER EVER indicated that Cthulhu was a 'water elemental' nor that Hastur was somehow opposed to Cthulhu. Nor did he ever draw parallels between the struggles with the Elder Gods and the Christian myth of the fall of Satan. Furthermore Lovecraft was fairly clear in what constituted a Great Old One and what constituted an Other God, yet Derleth changes all that and lumps them together and introduces the term "Ancient Ones" to mix it all up. Furthermore Derleth fails to place the Dream sequences in the Cthulhu Mythos, thus abandoning HPL's clear placement of Kadath in the Dreamlands.

4) Presumptuous
Lovecraft NEVER stated that the creatures in "The Festival" were Byakhee. Yet Derleth takes this not only as fact, but uses them like horses. In "The Festival", the mounting of the the flying creatures was done as part of a huge ceremony, not at all like saddling your favorite mount and going for a ride to Celaeno!

5) Annoying
If there is one single thing that makes ALL of this *FAIL* it is this simple, annoying literary tool: He makes the works of HP Lovecraft part of the fictional Universe about which those very works were describing. This fails to work on SO many levels. Think of it this way -- what if someone wrote a novel about Harry Potter and in that novel were repeated references to JK Rowling and her Harry Potter books! It is an awful, awful way to honor HPL, and in fact makes HPL more of a marionette, puppeted around by Derleth in a very dishonorable way.

I can't dislike this 'addition' to the Mythos more.
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Reading Progress

December 11, 2013 – Shelved
December 11, 2013 – Shelved as: to-read
December 18, 2013 – Started Reading
January 30, 2014 – Finished Reading
January 31, 2014 – Shelved as: horror

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