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That Which Should Not Be by Brett T. Talley #AudiobookReview

Miskatonic University has a long-whispered reputation of being strongly connected to all things occult and supernatural. From the faculty to the students, the fascination with other-worldly legends and objects runs rampant. So, when Carter Weston’s professor Dr. Thayerson asks him to search a nearby village for a book that is believed to control the inhuman forces that rule the Earth, Incendium Maleficarum, the student doesn’t hesitate to begin the quest.

Weston’s journey takes an unexpected turn, however, when he ventures into a tavern in the small town of Anchorhead. Rather than passing the evening as a solitary patron, Weston joins four men who regale him with stories of their personal experiences with forces both preternatural and damned. Two stories hit close to home as they tie the tellers directly to Weston’s current mission.

His unanticipated role as passive listener proves fortuitous, and Weston fulfills his goal. Bringing the book back to Miskatonic, though, proves to be a grave mistake. Quickly, Weston realizes he has played a role in potentially opening the gate between the netherworld and the world of man. Reversing the course of events means forgetting all he thought he knew about Miskatonic and his professor and embracing an unknown beyond his wildest imagination.

Title: That Which Should Not Be | Author: Brett J. Talley | Narrator: David Stifel | Publisher: JournalStone | Pub. Date: November 4th, 2016 | Language: English | ISBN13: 9781936564149 | Source: Self-Purchased | Genre: Cosmic Horror | Starred Review

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That Which Should Not Be Review

I was immediately drawn to the cover of That Which Should Not Be. I mean, c’mon, it’s just a great big Cthulhu rising. I was also drawn to the name that’s a bit reminiscent of Metallica’s Thing That Should Not Be. And I was in the mood for a good cosmic horror.

And that’s exactly what I got.

That Which Should Not Be reads a lot like an anthology movie. It has four different stories nicely packaged within a larger wrap-around story. Carter is tasked with finding the Incendium Maleficarum, a tome that seems to rival the Necronomicon in power and evil. He travels to the town in which his professor believes it is, traveling in somewhat disguise as his professor has warned him that others may be looking, not all of them with the best intentions.

He meets up with four men at a tavern nearby and they invite him to their table for some chat and ale. They each tell their defining story and, throughout each narrative, you can feel it creeping closer and closer to Carter’s own task.

They are pretty much standalone stories with just a touch or two to bind them to the larger story. It really shouldn’t work but the author does an excellent job of crafting them well enough so that you are enthralled with the stories for themselves. Between the stories there’s a small break for Carter’s reaction, some atmospheric effects, and the next storyteller’s introduction to ground yourself back in the main story.

I really liked the stories for themselves and loved them all. The narrator’s voice was good for each and different enough to tell them apart from the other narrator’s voices. I will admit that the narrator took a bit for me to really get into but once I got used to his voice patterns I enjoyed it. I did notice that in Daniel’s story his Scottish accent wavered in and out between light Scottish and English accents but it wasn’t distracting.

The stories stayed pretty firmly in the horror realm and really kicked up the atmosphere to sell them. The end of the book takes a turn more towards adventure in a climactic chase scene that reminds me a bit of the latter part of Dracula when the Fearless Vampire Hunters are trying desperately to catch up to Dracula and close the distance. It’s effective and the climax is a good, action-laden finish. Knowing there wasn’t much left to the book and knowing there was a sequel had me wondering how and if they were going to tie it up before the end. Never fear. The ending is a strong finish and is how a series book should end. With the main action tied up with just enough hinted at for a sequel.

I immensely enjoyed the writing, the narrative, and the characters. If I had a touch of eyebrows raised it was only because the Incendium Maleficarum is a lot like the One Ring. It can’t be destroyed and uses its current possessor to try to get as close as it can to its original possessors/end goal. Which is a little unclear. That would be about my only complaint. The Incendium Maleficarum is a MacGuffin in every sense of the word. It is a generic, evil book that can’t be destroyed and for some reason, grants its possessor extreme good luck. Sometimes. When it wants to. When it wants to move on it does what it can to be able to do so. You can see where the One Ring comparisons come from.

If you’re looking for a good cosmic horror novel with some tight writing, horror, and adventure then I would highly recommend That Which Should Not Be. The stories within the main story are well crafted and the main story kicks back in just when you might be wondering where it went. All in all, highly recommended!

You can find That Which Should Not Be via its Goodreads links, via Audible or, if you’d like to help support literacy programs, via Better World Books.

Published inHorror Book ReviewsStarred Reviews
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