The setting of Cthulhu Armageddon will be recognizable to anyone who has read some post-apocalyptic dystopia; small enclaves of humanity struggling to survive, a blasted wasteland separating them. The fundamental difference here is that rather than a viral outbreak or a nuclear holocaust the precipitating factor here is the rise of the H.P. Lovecraft’s Great Old Ones.
While it is not a pre-requisite to know anything about the Cthulhu mythos originated by Lovecraft, readers with even a passing familiarity with them will find plenty of references. Some are more overt, the names of creatures etc, but others are more subtle and while I know I caught at least some, I’m sure there were more that I didn’t.
Even without knowledge of Lovecraft and his work, there’s plenty to enjoy about this novel. The story is fairly straight-forward and moves at a good pace. Aside from the task imposed on him, Booth has two goals; to get revenge for the deaths of his team of rangers at the opening of the novel and to discover how he managed to survive. As he leads a gradually growing group of tentative allies into the wastes, he begins to uncover things, not just about the immediate aftermath of his team’s assault on the black cathedral, but also secrets buried much deeper in his past. The way these are revealed, through a combination of retracing his steps and supernatural intervention, allows the reader to become invested in the mystery and makes for satisfying reading.
If I had one issue with the novel; it is that the ending felt rushed. The tying up of the assorted plot threads seemed to be crammed into the last 30 or so pages. I’m hoping that the sequel will allow for a bit more breathing room.
4 out of 5 books by Abdul Alhazred