This is one of the rare books I got through a Kickstarter offering.
Review: 1816: The Year Without Summer, ed. Dickon Springate, 2019.
No, it’s not a non-fiction book about the climatic, political, social, and economic effects of Mount Tambora exploding in 1815. It’s something more unique. While there have certainly been other historically themed Lovecraftian horror anthologies, none have been this tightly focused. There’s one story set in each month of 1816. (The cover is incorrect. There are actually 13 stories here.)
There are a few things to note. First, not all of these stories are Cthulhu Mythos stories. Second, not every story strikes me as even Lovecraftian. Third, while there aren’t any bad stories here, the anthology does get off to a slow start.
David Southwell’s “Foreword” tells us how the book came to be and seems to see this as a collection of alternate histories about the hidden role of Lovecraftian entities in altering history’s trajectory.. I’d argue they are more secret histories.
Editor Springate’s “Prologue” sets up the book’s conceit that the events leading to Tambora’s eruption actually started about a 1,000 years ago in Newfoundland.,
And Newfoundland is where G. Groff’s “The Sepulchred Conflagration” takes us. In the wake of a Viking raid on the local skraelings, we meet a shaman who failed to stop their desecration of a local shrine to Katkannalu (seemingly the local name for Cthulhu). We then shift over to Tambora and then St. Johns, Newfoundland and get an explanation for that town’s long history of devastating fires. While the opening was certainly unusual for a Mythos story, the story struck me as a bit awkward because of its bridging the story’s opening premise and the year 1816.
The anthology settles into to its rhythm with C. K. Meeder’s “Documentation of Varied Scientific Endeavours”, and chemist Sir Humphrey Davy is the first of many historical figures we’ll come across in the book. It’s January 1816, and his journal relates how he visited a coal mine in the north of England to test out his new safety lamp. But he’ll find something weird and disturbing there.Continue reading