Review: “Into the Black,” William Meikle

Pros: Lovecraftian horror with an occasionally whimsical flair
Cons: Slightly repetitive
Rating: 4.5 out of 5

I seem to be on a roll with William Meikle books lately; they’re perfect for when I want horror, but not depressing. Into The Black: Tales of Lovecraftian Terror is a great collection of short stories in a Lovecraftian vein of cosmic horror.

There are some strong commonalities in many of these stories. Mysterious half-heard music is a recurring theme. Odd black egg-like things that divide repeatedly and cause havoc of one kind or another show up a lot. A tarry black substance (Shoggoth) that eats people does plenty of damage. Multiple old gods lay dreaming beneath the sea. People are compelled to dance to an entrancing rhythm. Maybe the weird unexplained black eggs show up and do their replication thing a little much, but there’s still plenty of variety to keep things fresh.

There’s a scientific experiment that goes terribly wrong. There’s mysterious life found under the ice on the Antarctic Shelf. In World War II, Mi-Go threaten to obliterate London and Berlin if the war isn’t ended. A man tries to recreate the music that’s in his head.

There are a couple of different time periods represented here. There’s a tale of Romans vs. Picts, one involving the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius, and even one that takes place after climate change has started wrecking the world.

There’s a bizarre alternate-earth King Arthur, “forty-ninth holder of name and title,” who has to protect Londinium from Saxon dirigibles. (Merlin keeps making “your mother” jokes at a portly and out-of-shape Sir Lancelot.) A Christmas Eve tale sees a mysterious infection that first attacks a reindeer.

These are enjoyable tales. Sometimes people prevail–for the moment. Sometimes the world goes to hell. All in all, I look forward to reading more of Meikle’s work!

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