Twice Upon An Apocalypse #BookReview

Title: Twice Upon an Apocalypse – Lovecraftian Fairy Tales | Edited by Don D’Ammassa and Rachel Kenley | Publisher: Crystal Lake Publishing | Pub. Date: 05/30/2017 | Pages: 284 | ISBN13: 9781640074750 | Genre: Horror/Dark Fantasy | Language: English | Triggers: Cannibalism/Child Death (one story) | Rating: 4 out of 5 | Source: Received from the publisher for review consideration

Twice Upon an Apocalypse – Lovecraftian Fairy Tales

These aren’t your mother’s fairy tales.

Throughout history parents have told their children stories to help them sleep, to keep them entertained. But we’re pretty sure none of those parents had this in mind. These are the fairy tales that will give you and your children nightmares. From the darkest depths of Grimm and Anderson come the immortal mash-ups with the creations of HP Lovecraft.

Twice Upon an Apocalypse Review

I don’t generally read mash-ups. Every once in a while they can be cleverly done but, as Gary Braunbek states in the Introduction, they tend to work better as short stories rather than novels. The subtitle of ‘Lovecraftian Fairy Tales’ soon caught my eye and I eagerly offered myself…ok, I may have begged a bit.

I can’t say that I was disappointed at all. The stories are generally good and range from deadly serious to tongue firmly in cheek. There were a few stand-outs but none that made me roll my eyes in disbelief or bored me to tears. Each story, despite having common themes, was it’s own creation and unique. I also enjoyed the fact that along with the more well-known fairy tales some were used which are rarely seen. I have to admit that I fully expected to see many stories by the Brothers Grimm. The Grimm Brothers are amply represented but so also is Charles Perrault and Hans Christian Anderson. There are also a couple well-known stories, even if the authors are not widely known. Even though I partly expected to see at least ‘The Little Mermaid’ show up in an Innsmouth story, indeed how could she not?  I was also pleased to see a few of the lesser known tales. I’m slightly biased towards Hans Christian Anderson’s tales, I’ll admit that right now.

The stories are well-written but with such a narrow framework to write a story within (Lovecraftian fairy tales leading up to an apocalypse) constrains the creativity to a degree. You know pretty much how things will end (or begin) so the only mystery is how it’s going to get there or be described. Some of the better stories made very good use of atmosphere. I’m also unsure of the submission process for the stories but with the wealth of both fairy tale and Lovecraft mythos there seems to be quite a bit of repetition in view. For instance, there are two separate stories about ‘Jack and the Beanstalk’.They each go in their own directions but there should really be no need for two of the same story in the anthology. Also, with the amount of different locations mentioned in Lovecraft and the fairy tales themselves seem to limit themselves to fairly confined areas. Innsmouth and Dunwich are particular favorites.

Since there are too many stories to go into them as deeply as I’d like I will sort them from best to least liked.

Madness-Inducing (Best):

The Pied Piper of Providence – William Meikle
The Three Billy Goats Sothoth – Peter N. Dudar
In the Shade of the Juniper Tree – J.P. Hutshell
The Most Incredible Thing – Bracken MacLeod
Let Me Come In! – Simon Yee
The Fishman and His Wife – Inanna Arthen
The Gumdrop Apocalypse – Pete Rawlik
Curiosity – Winifred Burniston
Sweet Dreams in the Witch House – Sean Logan
The Legend of Creepy Hollow – DonD’Ammassa

Mind-bending Angles (Good):

The Horror at Hatchet Point – Zach Shephard
Follow the Yellow Glyph Road – Scott T. Goudsward
The Ice Queen – Mae Empson
Once Upon a Dream – Matthew Baugh
Donkeyskin – K.H. Vaughn
The Great Old One and the Beanstalk – Armand Rosamilia

Slightly Skewed (Meh):

Little Maiden of the Sea – David Barnard
The Little Match Mi-Go – Michael Kamp
Cinderella and Her Outer Godfather – C.T. Phipps
Fee Fie Old One – Thom Brannan
The King of the Golden Mountain – Morgan Sylvia

Even the stories that didn’t thrill me were still pretty good. Oddly, I just noticed that despite my love for Hans Christian Anderson, those seem to be the ones that I rated lowest. Perhaps I couldn’t separate the originals from the mixture. Because they were mixed well, I just couldn’t get into them. Others may like them more so I would not discourage anyone from reading them. For those interested in Lovecraft or fairy tale mash-ups there is a lot to be liked here. So kick back and get ready for some familiar and comfortable cosmic horror. Although that may be an oxymoron.

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